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Managing co-creation

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Written by Job Muscroft and Andrew Needham, FACE. …

Written by Job Muscroft and Andrew Needham, FACE.

Co-creation is the commercial practice of developing insights, brands, products and other forms of intellectual property or activity via collaboration with external consumers.

The essential and distinctive point about co-creation is that it brings brands and consumers together on a level footing and at all stages of the process rather than calling the public in for a limited role at a middling or advanced stage in the development of a new product or message.

Increasingly, co-creation is being applied to three specific areas, each raising different issues. These areas are co-creating insights, co-creating ideas and co-creating brands.

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  • 1. Managing co-creation Job Muscroft and Andrew Needham Warc Best Practice March 2011
  • 2. Warc Best Practice: Managing co-creation Job Muscroft and Andrew Needham Face Co-creation is the commercial practice of developing insights, brands, products and other forms of intellectual property or activity via collaboration with external consumers. It is not the same as crowdsourcing, a term coined in 2006 for the policy of taking a function traditionally performed by employees and outsourcing it to a large community of people in the form of an open brief. Procter & Gamble, Nike, Best Buy and Starbucks have all created digital platforms that allowed customers to respond to open briefs for creating new products and messages. And crowdsourcing can be one element of a larger co-creation process, as in the model below (Fig 1). Fig 1: Face co-creation model But the essential and distinctive point about co-creation is that it brings brands and consumers together on a level footing and at all stages of the process rather than calling the public in for a limited role at a middling or advanced stage in the development of a new product or message. Increasingly, co-creation is being applied to three specific areas, each raising different issues. These areas are co-creating insights, co-creating ideas and co-creating brands. Managing co-creation Job Muscroft and Andrew Needham Warc Best Practice March 2011 Downloaded from warc.com 2
  • 3. CO-CREATING INSIGHTS Co-creation researchers need to take on a different role from that normally used in research projects. They need to step back, acting more as facilitators and enablers of direct contact between brands and consumers, than as intermediaries and interlocutors between brands and consumers. Researchers need to ask themselves: how can I support conversations with consumers when they are thinking as individuals? And when they are thinking as groups? And how can I support a structure and a leadership for consumers acting as a collective? Although co-creators also use offline techniques, it is no accident that co-creation's rise has coincided with the growth of the internet as an environment for gaining insights and interacting with consumers, both when they are thinking and acting as individuals and in more social contexts. As part of this trend, netnography, a term coined by Professor Robert Kozinets, has emerged as a qualitative, interpretive methodology often deployed in co-creation projects. Netnography uses ethnographic research techniques, optimised for digital media, in order to study the social context in on-line communities. Whatever the techniques involved, you need to decide whether you are going to talk to consumers in closed groups, by bringing groups of consumers together with client stakeholders in bespoke web-based environments, or you are going to do so in more open environments by taking client stakeholders out into existing communities of consumers on the internet. CO-CREATING IDEAS Fostering relationships between brands, consumers, experts and agencies is integral to co-creating ideas. Arthur C. Clarke, the science fiction author, identified two types of failure that commonly occur when people try to predict the future. These were failure of imagination and failure of nerve. According to Clarke, failure of imagination occurs when the forecaster either does not discover vital facts or does not even admit to the possibility of their existence. A failure of nerve can happen when, in spite of possessing all the relevant facts, the researcher fails to draw the logical conclusion from them because the facts were not marshaled correctly. In order to avoid either failure during the co-creation of ideas, it is important to remember three rules. A bottom-up approach is not enough: Bottom-up processes need to be complemented by solid strategic direction and expertise. Successful innovations emerge at the intersection of three, sometimes very different, agendas: the consumer and his needs, the brand and its strategy, the expert and his vision (he or she provides knowledge of the market and its trends). Allow group thinking as well as individual thinking: Group thinking often generates and provides elements of validation, but it is also skewed towards social conformity. On the other hand, individual thinking provides a more independent idea generation process but it does not generate as much material. The best ideas often come from building on each other's contribution rather than coming up with the final solution in one go. A balanced innovation process needs to ensure both dynamics are well represented. Open up: Allow ideas to come from anywhere and be prepared to let consumers take you to places you wouldn't expect to be taken to. Downloaded from warc.com 3
  • 4. CO-CREATING BRANDS Co-creation requires a move away from the traditional branding model whereby agencies and clients start by defining the brand and its attributes, and towards a model which starts with the consumer. As an example of this trend at work, Face applied co-creation techniques to help Reckitt Benckiser bring two of its existing household care brands to the Chinese market. Our approach was designed to immerse the stakeholder teams in the specific cultural nuances, aspirations and needs of Chinese consumers. A combination of community research, crowd-sourcing and co- creation workshops helped to produce local translations of the global brand blueprint (conceptually, semantically, linguistically and visually), that have subsequently been adopted more widely. RECRUITING CONSUMERS Consumers: There are broadly two types of consumers that should be involved in co-creation. The first group is made up of people with a passion either for the category or the brand and also meet other additional, demographic criteria which ensure participants represent the brand's target market. The second group is the One per cent elite of consumers, comprising people that are both passionate about the brand and the category, and also have the skills to co-create. Group one consumers will typically be asked to complete a task at an early stage in the process. For instance, a drinks company might, via an online community, ask consumers to keep a video diary about their relationship to drink, creating video clip interviews about people discussing drink in situations at home or in a bar. See figure 2 After this, the co-creation team may invite people to respond to a specific brief to gain a clearer sense of which ideas are resonating within this community. A typical scenario might posit the consumer as the customer service director of an imaginary mobile phone company tasked with developing one area from a list of potential company initiatives including repairs, in-store expertise and online support for which the company could become world- famous. Fig 2: Community Co-creation Tasks One per cent customers: To find the kind of people who make up the second type of co-creation consumers the One per cent-ers you need to be more explorative. Downloaded from warc.com 4
  • 5. You are looking for people who are: passionate and knowledgeable about the brand/category creative & confident collaborative A first stage in recruiting One per cent-ers might be to contact your target market via a brand's Facebook page or a specific co- creation community. At this stage, you can profile people using a two-minute online survey to find a group of willing co-creators who meet your project specific criteria. Once you have your initial group, it is advisable to call them. During this telephone interview, the basic criteria can be confirmed, professionals can be weeded out and those that prove they are articulate and creative will be taken forward. Next comes a face to face meeting where potential co-creators work through a series of exercises to crack a brief. Following this meeting a final selection of co-creators is made. Typically, the One per cent-ers will be invited to work in co-creation teams with clients and experts, and asked to take idea platforms and craft them into fully-formed concepts. This stage of crafting can take place online or in face-to-face workshops facilitated by the agency. People are split into a number of small working groups working directly with clients and experts to explore different routes. One per cent-ers are given regular opportunities to present their ideas, with the first, broader group of customers voting and building on ideas. CLARIFYING ROLES The Agency: Agencies are responsible for creating environments both on and offline in which consumers and other stakeholders feel comfortable to express themselves and to collaborate with each other. For instance, in a typical agency-created task, each co-creation team is given 50 every day words and asked to generate 50 product/brand benefit statements for a deodorant. This game helps the team start to think about expressing how the At each stage of the process the agency should be analyzing the dialogue emerging from these exercises to tease out insights and make recommendations on how to move forward with ideas and concepts. Experts: Although levels of involvement can vary, experts are typically used in a co-creation project to inspire and curate ideas, especially in the early stages. They can create presentations to stimulate involvement and provide background information for co-creation teams. They may also be involved in the co-creation teams themselves, being needed to cluster ideas together or tweak them into practical concepts. Clients: Clients are responsible for shaping the specification of the project and for sharing existing knowledge on the brand and its context. They should identify at the outset their core decision-making team responsible for working directly with consumers who will take the outputs from the process and drive them through the business. At each stage the client team should give feedback on any direct interactions with consumers and work with the agency to Downloaded from warc.com 5
  • 6. shape the project. Clients also need ensure ideas are aligned with their commercial objectives and will really resonate with consumers. CONCLUSION Consumers' desire to be involved more directly in what a brand does and says means that now more than ever there is a great opportunity to do things with consumers rather than at them. The world of research needs to embrace this and help brands identify their most knowledgeable and creative customers. Above all, co-creation requires researchers to see consumers not as passive respondents or as individuals who just want to buy stuff, but as people who want to have active and equal relationships with brands. It is a shift which could give researchers a more strategic role in clients' businesses. Further Reading on warc.com: Case Studies: Axe Skincare Crowd Innovation: Crowdsourcing and Co-Creating with Axe Consumers Philippa Rose, Andrew Needham, Saul Parker, ESOMAR, Innovate, Barcelona, November 2010 Innovation Detonation @ Deutsche Telekom: Co-Creation Starts in the Living Rooms of our Customers Raimund Schmolze, Annette Boehmer, ESOMAR, Innovate, Barcelona, November 2010 Successful Consumer Co-Creation: The case of Nivea Body Care Volker Bilgram, Michael Bartl and Stefan Biel, Market Research Society, Annual Conference, 2010 How Walkers used co-creation to get the UK to do it a flavour Bridget Angear and Miranda Sambles, Admap, September 2009, Issue 508, pp. 31 33 Articles: Warc Briefing: Co-creation Warc Exclusive, November 2010 Innovate 2010: a report from ESOMAR's innovation conference Manfred Mareck, Warc Exclusive, November 2010 Co-creation: The live age Mark Tutssel, Admap, December 2010, pp. 24 25 About the authors: Andrew Needham is CEO & Founding Partner of Face. He has been interested in developing new ways of working with consumers since the 1990s. He is also the director and group managing director of Cello PLC London Hub, a member of the Marketing Society and Market Research Society and a regular conference speaker. www.linkedin.com/in/andrewneedham Downloaded from warc.com 6
  • 7. @andrewneedham Job Muscroft is managing director of Face. Before helping set up Face in 2002, Job spent 15 years working on marketing, research and innovation for clients such as GSK, News International, Unilever, O2 and Google. He is also the chief operating officer of Cello PLC London Hub and a member of the Marketing Society and the Market Research Society. www.linkedin.com/in/jobmuscroft123 @Jobmuscroft Copyright Warc 2011 Warc Ltd. 85 Newman Street, London, United Kingdom, W1T 3EX Tel: +44 (0)20 7467 8100, Fax: +(0)20 7467 8101 www.warc.com All rights reserved including database rights. This electronic file is for the personal use of authorised users based at the subscribing company's office location. It may not be reproduced, posted on intranets, extranets or the internet, e-mailed, archived or shared electronically either within the purchaser s organisation or externally without express written permission from Warc. Downloaded from warc.com 7

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