The power of co-creation

Last week we highlighted a case which was based on co-creation. Today we’ll be zooming in on that topic as co-creation holds great advantages for companies whether they are B2B, B2C or non-profit.

Your end-user is the most important person in your company, like Sam Walton said:
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

There is even more depth to this statement: your company will cease to exist when you don’t work for your end-user. You need to keep him happy just like employees need to keep their boss happy. Today’s customer has more power, he uses social media to share his opinion and to look for information. (You can read more about the customer of the future in our article ‘The future of shopping’.)

He is looking for the perfect product or service, one that suits his needs. But how can you discover what he needs? You can run surveys but they will never go so far that you’ll find the reason behind latent needs or perhaps not even find those latent needs. Have you ever thought about co-creation? It’s a great way to involve those end-users in your whole development process. Get them engaged. Co-creation has a lot of advantages for your business.

Perceive your end-user as a stakeholder and let him be part of your design and production process. That way you’ll get more meaningful insights. It gives you the chance to focus on customer behavior, map the customer’s experience and listen to him closely. Why does he want the things he wants and why does he do the things he does?

By examining these insights you’ll be able to provide your end-user with better solutions, products that really suit his needs. You’ll be able to innovate better. And because of this approach you’ll also avoid the problem that 70% of innovations fail due to lack of user acceptance. By engaging the end-user you create a better basis, you’ll have insights on a broader spectrum, not only the product, digital platform or service itself, but also into other aspects of the company. How does he want to interact with your company? How does he want to pay? What about delivery? Packaging? You’ll get the chance to tackle all those aspects in co-creation and then make the best possible product. One that will be bought.

Innovation by co-creation
Create your prototypes together with the end-user, let him test them, adapt them, improve them. That way you’ll detect flaws in the design or interface early on in the process and it will cost you less to change them. In fact when you look at it in a different way, co-creation will save you money on your production process, therefore you can reduce costs.

Companies who use the co-creation technique in their creative process can develop a great competitive advantage: namely, customer loyalty. The end-user is engaged in the whole process and therefore feels closer to the product, digital platform or service.

Reduce your costs, get happy and loyal customers
Companies that use co-creation as a method to produce and innovate reduce their R&D costs and production costs, they even deepen their brand connections and engage their customers in new ways.

A great co-creation example

6 December is but a few days away which means Saint Nicholas is coming with toys for the children. Chances are that he’ll probably have a lot of LEGO in his sack since LEGO has been voted the greatest toy of all time by the heads of Britain’s top games’ firms. But what makes LEGO so special? Apart from the toy itself, LEGO is a leading example of co-creation within the toy sector.

With such successful examples as LEGO Architecture or LEGO Mindstorms, the company is a true pioneer in the space of ideation. Leading the open culture one step further, the company has created an online platform called LEGO Ideas, through which fans and customers can propose new ideas for sets. Respecting rules and guidelines, any LEGO enthusiast can share their idea for new LEGO sets, they can give feedback on existing ones and vote on their favourites or share ideas with friends.

Using co-creation, LEGO empowers its end-users. They are not seen as simply customers, but more as partners involved in the entire process of producing sets — they help the LEGO professional designers by giving them input and what’s more, are recognized as product creators if their idea has more than 10,000 votes and is approved by the LEGO designers. Should an idea be approved, the creator receives a 1% royalty fee on sales.

LEGO Ideas

LEGO Ideas

Co-creation helped LEGO target the audience they could never reach. People consider LEGO a toy for boys and for a long time that was indeed the case, they simply couldn’t attract girls. Long-term research was conducted involving this unreachable target group to create new products in collaboration with designers. Which led to LEGO Friends. Girls like bright colours and an environment to which they have an emotional connection.

The way LEGO is using the co-creation process could be an inspiring example for every company that wants to become more innovative and create ideas that are approved by their end-users. The product is then geared to meet their needs and wishes, and will be accepted and loved by the users. It will also help you and your company because it is a much faster mechanism than in-house innovation and is more cost-effective.

(This article was co-authored by Iuliana Ioan & Katrien Pypen)