Engaging Customers in Innovation: Exploring Co-Creation

Innovation managers at mature companies appreciate that innovation often revolves around customer-centric ideas. After all, it’s the client that has the power to determine whether a new product or concept will succeed or fail. As such, engaging customers in the process is truly the hallmark of a forward-thinking organization.

Why explore co-creation?

Forbes describes corporate innovation as “having out-of-the-box thinking as a strategy within your business”. While involving the client in the process may be an -out-of-the-box concept, the truth is that co-creation is beneficial for many reasons. Here are some of the best;

  • It allows you to receive innovative ideas from a brand new perspective,
  • The ideas presented by customers can often spark new concepts from employees,
  • It makes customers feel that they are on the journey with your company,
  • Customers will organically tell friends and family about the innovations,
  • You will gain valuable insights into what clients want as well as their thoughts on existing products.

Formulating innovative ideas is arguably the hardest challenge facing any business. If engaging your audience leads to just one winning concept, it must  be worthwhile.


Five ways to engage customers in the innovation process

Appreciating the benefits of engaging your customers is one thing, but developing a strategy that enables you to do it is another. Here are five tips to take co-creation to the next level.


1. Give customers a voice

In addition to incremental innovations, consumers often have ideas for how to improve brands and build on existing products. However, businesses regularly fail to let clients voice their opinions. The My Starbucks Idea saw the coffee company ask consumers for their ideas and resulted in the birth of several winning innovations. Opening a similar platform that actively welcomes ideas - and potentially gets customers to submit them for a reward in return, will keep customers engaged.

Even when organizations do not directly welcome ideas from customers, most consumers are discussing brands online. This is an ideal opportunity for your organization to learn what your audience loves or wants to see improved. Checking review sites and social media can be helpful. 

The main driving forces of innovation are customer experiences, revenue growth, and product development. Listening to what customers say can influence all those factors and potentially unearth your next big idea.


2. Extend listening to other businesses

Other businesses will often fall into your target market. Even when they don’t, non-competing organizations may have great ideas that suit your organization more than theirs. Alternatively, there could be opportunities to collaborate with them. 

Through the KICKBOX program you can tap into the collective knowledge of other intrapreneurs and companies. You will generate fewer ideas if you limit yourself to traditional consumers when seeking new perspectives. So, co-creation with other entrepreneurs makes a lot of sense.


3. Involve customers in product development

While consumers may not have ideas for disruptive or radical innovations, they can be very helpful for incremental innovations.  Even successful innovations usually require an iterative approach to unlock their full potential. KICKBOX uses various tools to promote testing and experimenting for a streamlined prototyping process. Using focus groups and other forms of customer interaction can take this to the next level. Moreover, 66% of consumers want to be involved in the creation process. They will be happier as a result. 


4. Let customer behaviors show the way

Including customers in the innovation process doesn't have to be limited to vocalized ideas that you ask them for. Frankly, consumer behaviors should be deemed one of the most important tools for guiding your company to success. For example, you may find that conscious consumerism needs to become a driving force in your innovation strategy. Consumer behaviors won’t necessarily directly point out new products or ideas, but they will ensure that intrapreneurs within the company are focused on desirability.

If you want your innovation strategy to thrive, though, you will need a robust employee innovation program like KICKBOX by your side. To learn more about how it can transform your business, arrange a demo today.

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