Posted on: Mar 14, 2019

Customer-centric Innovation: The Key to Brands’ Success

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As stated by Paul Polman, ex-CEO, Unilever, “Marketing and innovation have and will continue to be two of the strongest drivers of margin and revenue growth. The concept of customer value is central to both of them”. It will be apt to state that co-creation  is getting equally central to customer value creation. Co-creation is the phenomenon of brands and consumers coming together to create better products and services through a collaboration of ideas.

Why co-creation? Because customers want control – they want a seat at the table. The fact that a majority of consumers find the idea of contributing to the product they consume appealing, points towards a growing consumer desire to be self sufficient and transparent. According to a survey by Global Data, 60% of global consumers said they found the idea of putting their personal stamp on a product they consume very appealing.

Smart brands realise this and are taking cues from this trend. As per Huffington Post, a majority of companies (70% to be exact) delivering outstanding customer experiencerely on customer feedback. Brands continue to steer innovation, but they understand that it is customer-controlwhether a product or service makes it to the market successfully. As a result, companies are perpetually looking for new, innovative ways to allow customers to get involved in their product creation process. Here are the brands that stand out for their approach to customer-centric innovation:

LEGO  has its unique version of co-creation, an online community called LEGO IDEAS where fans of the iconic brand can discover innovative designs shared by other fans as well as submit their designs for new sets. Fans are allowed to vote for their choice of design and the designs that get 10k+ votes get reviewed by LEGO, with the final winner’s set being created and sold worldwide. The brand seeks the creator’s approval before going ahead with the design and rewards the creator with a percentage of the sales and provides recognition through packaging & marketing.

Leading furniture store, IKEA  has long realized the value in the practice of co-creation. In 2015, the company sent its employees in the US on a home tour, during which they did not merely deliver furniture to residences but also found out about customers’ furniture preferences and what they’d like to see in the stores. The next step was to start soliciting these preferences into ideas and translate them into real products for the market. IKEA had plans of conducting a similar exercise in other markets as well.

The world’s largest mail and logistics services company, DHL  understands the importance of customer-centric innovation well. In order to overcome logistical and supply chain challenges, the company hosts workshops with loyal customers in Singapore and Germany to co-create solutions for an improved experience for everyone.  Parcelcopter, a test drone delivery service is an invention that is a by-product of one such DHL workshop held in Germany having the potential to change the company’s services forever.

Excellence in costumer-centric innovation may not exactly be a necessity, however, there is no doubt that companies win when they adopt the ‘customer-centric innovation’ approach. How does your company approach collaboration and co-creation? Let us know in the comments below.

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