Co-creation: Your Next Big Idea Can Come From Anywhere

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I recently finished author Paul M. Rand’s “Highly Recommended: Harnessing the Power of Word of Mouth and Social Media to Build Your Brand and Your Business.” This powerful book focuses on building a brand that people are happy to recommend to others, something that’s especially important today, when 92% of consumers report that a recommendation is the top reason they buy a product or service.

The book was full of great insights about making your business one that’s highly recommended, but one part of the book I found particularly insightful was a chapter about co-creation. Essentially, co-creation is asking your customers to share their ideas for new products and product improvements, with the understanding that your next big product idea could come from anywhere.

The Power of Co-Creation
Asking customers to submit their ideas for new products and improvements to existing ones can be very powerful. Consumers love to share their ideas and will feel valued if you ask them to do so. Plus, with co-creation, your customers provide ideas you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Customers are literally telling you what product offerings they would buy from you.

According to Rand, the main advantages of co-creation include:

  • Frequent customer engagement: Your employees may work from 9-5, but innovative ideas can hit at any time. With co-creation, consumers can submit their ideas 24/7.
  • Fresher Ideas: Co-creation can open the door to get new perspectives and creative ways to overcome challenges.
  • More Loyal Customers: Customers are loyal to brands they feel they’ve formed bonds with. Inviting customers to share their ideas and opinions helps brands build these relationships with consumers.
  • Greater WOM Momentum: If a customer provides an idea to a brand and the brand executes it, that customer will likely have a sense of pride — and be willing to recommend that brand to others. For example, the person who proposed the idea for a new Frappuccino flavor (especially one that Starbucks went on to develop) is likely to recommend Starbucks to others.

Different Co-Creation Initiatives
Co-creation can take many forms. For example, Rand starts the chapter discussing, an online community built by Clorox to solicit products ideas from consumers, suppliers and inventors. Starbucks developed My Starbucks Idea, a site that invites anyone to submit their ideas — large or small — for making Starbucks better. Frito-Lay held a contest called “Do Us a Flavor,” where they asked the public to submit their ideas for a new potato chip flavor.

These co-creation initiatives have all generated great ideas that the sponsoring companies have gone on to implement. Clorox got the idea for a bleach foam product. Starbucks has implemented (and continues to implement) ideas generated through My Starbucks Idea, including new coffee flavors, Frappuccino Happy Hour and splash sticks to prevent coffee from spilling on your clothes…just to name a few. And Frito Lay has gotten new ideas for new chip flavors, including Gyro and Southern Biscuits and Gravy.

Reviews as Co-Creation
You don’t have to build an elaborate website or social media campaign in order to generate ideas and insights from customers. If you have ratings and reviews on your site, you already have a wealth of customer suggestions and ideas at your disposal that can be used to improve your products and services.  

For example, let’s say you’re a brand that makes jeans. You notice that one style of jeans has 100 reviews, and an average star rating of 2.8. You dig into the reviews and see that several people note that while they love the style and quality of the denim, the zipper tends to stick. You can then take these insights to the manufacturer to change the zipper. Once the zipper has been changed, note the improvement on your website and watch the product rating increase.

Mining Reviews for Insights
Gleaning these insights from reviews doesn’t have to be a time consuming process. With PowerReviews Analytics & Insights, you can easily identify insights about your products, enabling you to continuously improve your business. 

Of course, all ideas suggested by consumers via your co-creation efforts won’t be good ones. But asking your customers for their ideas — and then using those ideas to improve your products — can be a great way to build relationships and better serve your customers.