Co-creation 4: New product Co-creation

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by: Matt Rhodes

So far we have looked at two examples of co-creation that change only the customer’s own experience of the product (mass customisation and real-time self-service), and one example where the customer helps to change the way a product is delivered (service redesign). But when many of us talk about co-creation and innovation we think rather of new product development.

Co-creation is very much customer-led. Brands and customers work together to develop and design new products. The results can be very powerful and brands from Lego to Xerox have worked with customers in this way to create new products. You can read the story of Lego Mindstorms here.

Involving customers in this way involves some significant changes of process and attitude at the brand. Traditionally the customer sits outside the firm – they purchase the product and their only relationship with the firm is, essentially, a transactional one. Where new product co-creation is concerned, customers are involved on a much deeper level. Working with the brand to develop and design products which they may not even want.

Herein lies the significant difference between the types of co-creation we have seen so far. In each of the previous three types, the customer’s motivation for co-creating was that their own particular product or experience would be improved. In new-product co-creation, customers are working to improve the product overall, and to improve the offering the brand has to make to all customers. This works for three reasons:

  1. customers want to help and work with brands they know are listening to them
  2. customers want to solve problems
  3. all to often the solution or idea you need will be really simple to somebody else

These motivations are common to anybody working in customer-led innovation and co-creation. They’re also the same motivations we see for participation in online communities. In fact, online communities are a great way to co-create new products with your customers – they allow you to work together on a problem with people who care about your brand and in a space where they can easily share and evolve ideas.

Some more reading

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