What is co-creation and how can B2B companies use it?
By Astrid Hall on February 1, 2019
What is co-creation?
As the saying goes “the customer is always right” and, as such, the businesses who have got it nailed are those that truly understand their customers’ desires.
Co-creation enables a business to delve very deeply into the key motivators of the customer right down to the most minute detail. It is like a form of market research, but brings added value compared to a basic focus group.
It’s all about putting the customer at the core, which every company does to a degree. However, we make assumptions on the consumer and sometimes our assumptions might be logical but off piece.
Co-creation has seen a number of businesses actually inviting the consumer to produce or collaborate on ideation. It’s like running the focus group at the beginning and throughout the creative process rather than at the end, when it can often be far too late to make any drastic changes.
For example, you might assume that young people are fast-paced and care free but until you actually speak to that demographic, you might find they are more thoughtful and considerate which could affect how you deliver your product to them.
It’s like a ‘prevention is better than cure’ method, where you’re asking for insight from a key audience before committing yourself to a particular idea; addressing problems early on before getting too far down the rabbit hole.
The participants of co-creation can vary to consist of customers, suppliers or even the general population. What it then allows is for people to feel involved and become contributors to your success through ideas and concepts.
It helps to build a relationship and optimise innovation by bringing different minds and viewpoints together.
LEGO is a prime example of effective co-creation, where they have invited their customers – young and old – to help develop new sets. Using an online community, members were able to discover creations made by fans and were able to vote on submissions and give feedback.
It also works as a kind of PR, as it drives people to engage with the brand and feel privileged to have involvement in a brand and product they love. It puts the business into the perspective of those who matter most. With a product like LEGO, it is easier to deliver co-creation techniques, but with professional services and more method-based services, it becomes a little more complicated – but not impossible.
How can B2B companies use it?
Regardless of whether you’re B2C or B2B, co-creation is still about getting a complete insight from the customer. For B2B businesses, the main issue is that the customer is purchasing a service rather than physical product, so there are two ways about it.
One, would be to create a more partnership-led approach with your clients to really understand their pains and needs. Having an open conversation with them to find out exactly what it is that makes them tick, why they chose to work with you over other suppliers, but also what can be done to make that decision easier.
Another option would be to still work collaboratively with your client, but to then work with their own customers to see how your supply of professional services could affect what you deliver.
For example, we at Amdaris supply software development, but the clients we work with often have an end user. Co-creation in this way could be to work closely with our clients' customers to understand what they would benefit from if it were to be built into the software we provide. If a project we have worked on with a client was an application we built, then it might be that the end user has an idea for a particular functionality that we’d never thought of.
Co-creation isn’t necessarily a new concept, but it’s become a recognised terminology for a particular process. Have you got your own examples of co-creation? We’d love to hear from you and see how people are innovating through collaborative co-creation techniques.