Sunday, January 1, 2012

Successful business cases of co-creation in action

There are very famous and well known cases that helped the co-creation discipline to become famous. I distinguish in examples where co-creation has been used to boost regular businesses and others where co-creation is at the centre of the business model. On the first type, among the most known are the following:
·         “My Starbucks Idea”. It was set up for customers to exchange ideas with each other and directly with Starbucks. Customers give opinions on everything such as products, services, layout, advertising, corporate social responsibility, in store music, and so on. They feature and reword the most active users and implement a good numbers of ideas received. Some numbers: more than 93k ideas shared, more than 1,3million users and 5,5milion pages view per month.
·         “Dell Ideastorm”. Dell went on to setup a number of customer feedback environments from Ideastorm, Studio Dell and Direct to Dell where they asked users to submits new ideas and issues openly, discuss them with one other and their employees. This made Dell to turnaround the bad reputation reached in those years where 45% of the posts regarding Dell where negative in an opposite situation with 5.3k customers issues were solved and an average of 3.5millions visits per month.
·         “Nike ID Studio”. It allows customers design their own Nike trainer and buy or just share it with their friends across social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. The online service was launched in 1999 and gave the ability to choose from a limited range of different materials and colours to develop their own style of tennis shoe. Today there is a choice of more than 30 trainers models, more than 80 different material option type. The success of the initiative is testified by the 3 millions unique users going on the site every month.
When analyzing these successful cases, we may wonder of the achievement has been in the ideas generated or the word-of-month alimented by the initiative. It is a marketing tool or a business model?
Upon visiting the MyStarbucksIdea site you will see many ideas that have been submitted countless times. And you will see a limited number of ideas that are truly original and potentially valuable. A thought leaps to my mind: would a two-day brainstorm session with some lead users and experts produce similar results?  The co-creation supporters would sustain the brand engagement argument. MyStarbucksIdea is a collective brand experience. And it is a crowdsourcing platform for aggregation. To be fair, there is even a remarkable degree of community interaction and validation.
The reason why StarbucksIdea works is that people assign Starbucks a far bigger brand delivery repertoire than just good coffee. They see Starbucks as a location-based occasion for relaxing and reenergizing, for personal contemplation and social discourse. This mental brand position offers a much wider scope for discussion and idea generation than the average coffee retailer. It allows people to show their expertise in other fields than just coffee. Customers become part of the brand experience, they pass from being customers to be creators of the brand.
At the same time, valuable ideas may come both from customers and from a direct interaction with the company employees. Stimulus generated by contacts with customers give a strong customer focus on what really matters. So it may becomes also a company philosophy and way of doing business with strong benefits.
Moving to the business cases where co-creation is at the centre of the business model, or in other words, all products or services themselves are generated with the contribute of the customers, these are more recent and less established example.
The US is certainly heavy on fashion co-creators, like FashionPlaytes (customized clothing for girls), LaudiVidni (customized handbags), and my company, Blank Label (customized dress shirts). But we also have a few awesome food co-creators Chocri (after they migrated to the US, from Germany), Me&Goji (customized granola and cereal), and RedMoon Pet Food (customized pet food).
These are not successful stories yet but they seem to be going in the right direction. Some of these businesses have peaked a million in revenue, and others have secured hundreds of thousands and millions in Venture Capital and Angel funding.
So stay tuned, and I will keep you updated, we we heard of them.


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  2. Hi Roberto,

    Very interesting blog! I am currently researching successes and failures of Co-creation for my dissertation. I would be extremely grateful if you could recommend any interesting business case studies that I could look into on this topic that you might have come across in your research.

    Thank you


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