Happy World Co-creation Day!

Today, it’s World Co-Creation Day, referring to the birthday of the late Prof. C.K. Prahalad. Given the topic, it’s appropriate to take a look at this Wikipedia article, explaining how Prahalad and Ramaswamy introduced the term for the first time in their 2000 Harvard Business Review article. As a product developer in market research, I strongly believe in the power of involving users in the innovation process as part of the multidisciplinary team. This leads to more relevant and successful new product and service introductions. In this blogpost, I’ll share some observations and examples of co-creation and working with communities that I’ve derived from my daily work.
Online research communities as a tool for co-creation
To support a close collaboration with consumers, a flexible and longitudinal approach is needed, in our view. A research community is a carefully screened group of 50 to 150 consumers, who join a closed online platform for a certain amount of time. A limited group of users is selected, to allow true collaboration. The interaction on the platform offers the benefits of consecutive learning, matching the iterative cycle of an innovation process. Above all, consumers really enjoy being involved in this co-creation like process, as a quote of one of our participants shows:

“I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and as I’ve said in a post in the Social Corner I feel I have learned quite a bit and it has made me take a look at things. I’m very grateful for the chance to be part of the team and share my thoughts. Thank you.”

Insight, Ideation & concept development or Pre-launch community?
In the front end of innovation, an insight community involving participants with topic and/or brand identification will detect drivers and barriers, frictions and opportunities in an explorative way. Together with Philips, InSites Consulting has set up an online research community in China, to explore the acceptance of technological solutions to sleeping problems. Soon we’ll share more facts and figures about this case, but feel free to take a look at the video:

The insight platforms are the starting point for a structured ideation process in an Ideation and Concept development community. An interactive collaboration with lead-users results in draft concept boards for relevant and impactful product or service innovations. In a Pan-European co-creation project with Futurelab and Unibake, consumers got the change to come up with new ideas for savoury snacks based on dough, resulting in a set of new product ranges.
Even right before the introduction to the market, consumers can provide help in fine-tuning the message of your product. A Pre-launch community with users that are influential in the category provides inspiration to your positioning and go-to-market strategy. Since innovation never sleeps, this process also provides structure and priority in the development roadmap.
Further reading
Discover how an online platform connecting the Unilever R&D society with the daily lives of consumers, engaged and inspired their employees through consumer insights: Bringing consumers alive within Unilever R&D (Forrester Groundswell Awards 2011 submission). Or: check out how Telenet co-created value with consumers by integrating the voice of the consumer in the development of Yelo, a new service bringing digital TV to mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and (portable) computer: The launch of Yelo (Forrester Groundswell Awards 2011 submission).
Photo: LimelightsBlog.

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