We are in the middle of a paradigm shift. The superdigitalisation generated by the COVID-19 pandemic is changing everything we know, from consumer habits to ways of selling and reaching our audiences. The strategies and plans brands had worked so hard on just a few months ago probably seem largely irrelevant now.
In recent years, the job of marketers and strategists has become increasingly linked with using data to predict the future. Which trends will continue to grow? How are our consumers going to behave? We let ourselves believe that we can see what is around the corner, but none of us predicted this, and now the future is less certain than ever.
Without our carefully made plans and our promising predictions, we have no choice but to live in the moment and allow ourselves to react to each twist and turn as it comes. If you don’t have them already, it’s time to build agile capabilities within your business. You’re going to need fast reflexes and a culture built for change.
One of the essential tools in our arsenal for this is co-creation. The principle of co-creation is working collaboratively with your end user to gather insights and build relevant, targeted solutions. This technique can be employed both internally (with colleagues) and externally (with your consumers) and can be extremely powerful for the following purposes:
- Developing a deep understanding of your target audience, and their current mindset.
- Designing products, brands, platforms (and more) that put the user at the heart.
- Building powerful communities of brand advocates, and allowing them to feel heard.
In current circumstances, opening up communication with your audience will allow you to understand in real time how their perceptions and behaviour are being transformed and how your business can better serve them, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
These are some of the essential considerations when building your co-creation project:
- Recruit the right people: This is one of the most important and often underestimated aspects of these projects. Take time to define your target beyond demographics, considering the outcomes you want to achieve and the mix of people you will need to make them a reality. If you want someone to shout about your brand, you need someone with an audience of their own. If you want someone to convince your board of a new direction, you need someone with relevant knowledge and industry experience.
- Create the right value exchange: The individuals you’re working with deserve to be rewarded for their time, and trust me when I say, you will get more in return if you incentivise them effectively. Cash works, but there are a lot of ways you can offer value that may feel more authentic to your brand and the experience you’re trying to create. Consider brand exclusives, private events and experiences, product trials etc.
- Make it fun: Please, leave out the survey questions. Whilst it’s important to gather a certain amount of data to recruit and qualify the right participants, once they’re a part of your community you should make an effort to create a unique and enjoyable research experience. We set our participants creative missions to draw out much more interesting and deeper responses resulting in more valuable insights. And if it’s not boring, people are more likely to stick around, everybody wins.
Our co-creation methodology can be applied in a variety of ways to achieve different objectives. Here are some examples of how we have used co-creation for our clients.
Fast pace insights generation with Sky Sports
Formula 1 is a priority sports event for Sky. With the season about to start, Sky Sports asked us to help them understand the impact the switch of F1 broadcasters from the BBC to Channel 4 had on viewers.
We invited 50 F1 fans from around Britain to join us on WhatsApp and generate insights during the Bahrain Grand Prix. We engaged participants in 10 missions during the race coverage, to understand their experience in real-time. People submitted text, photo, video and emoji responses, allowing us to gain a rich understanding of their experience and the environment in which they were watching. We then used these insights to recommend ways Sky Sports could improve fans’ viewing experience.
Engaging a generation of activists with Brämhults
Brämhults is a premium Swedish juice brand, part of the global Eckes-Granini group. They set out on a mission to improve the sustainability of their processes and investigate how they could work alongside consumers in their journey towards a more sustainable juice.
Inspired by the Fridays For Future movement and climate strikes across the world, we felt it was crucial for these passionate young people to be directly involved in creating the change they wanted to see.
We recruited a group of young people from Sweden (aged 16-19) to join us on this journey together with the brand. We equipped them with information about the Brämhults supply chain and gave them a forum to directly question and challenge the brand. With their help, we identified the areas which needed the most attention and developed ideas to help the brand become more sustainable. You can read the full case study on the Bramhults project here.
Brands and their consumers are navigating a period of drastic change; assumptions made previously about how our consumers behave, their financial circumstances etc. can no longer be trusted. The best solution for building relevant solutions for our consumers is to work with them directly, and understand what they need and how we can support them in their current circumstances, in real time. Building this relationship with your consumer now will help build trust and loyalty in uncertain times and will yield more powerful insights and results for your future.