Involving consumers in your product development: Two phases and six cases

Last month’s issue of Research magazine illustrates how brands are using consumer communities and co-creation to develop strategies, products and ideas in an article by Robert Bain (also available online: Perfected by the people). Discover how the customers of Telenet and other companies are putting their mark on the development and the launch of new products. Below you will find six cases!

Ideation and concept development

To co-create products with consumers, it’s important to guide them in this ideation process. They are triggered to come up with ideas going beyond the obvious, by starting from insight platforms or thinking within solution spaces. Expedia, an internet-based travel website, connected a consumer community with their employees to come up with new product and communication ideas, based on the insight that consumers saw travel booking sites as “the online version of a ticket machine in a train station”. Their latest TV ads by Ogilvy & Mather are the first part of this journey. (Agency: Face)

Danone involved the members of their Activia Advisory Board in the extension of their Activia range. By discussing different concepts in an iterative flow, attributes like the format, packaging and flavour were shaped to match the needs of the consumers. Two of these concepts were eventually developed into new products and were introduced in the market; Activia Snackpot and Activia Pouring Yogurt.(Agency: Promise)


In the further development of these concepts, it’s important to keep the connection with the consumer to guarantee a relevant and impactful product experience. Fine-tuning the product with the target group and discussing the positioning and go-to-market strategy leads to successful product launches. Belgian telecommunication company Telenet integrated the voice of their customers in the development of Yelo, a mobile app for watching digital TV. By tracking online conversations and having an in-depth collaboration with 100 Yelo users in an online research community, consumers have put their mark on the further development of the application; 30 out of 45 user-generated and prioritized improvements are already added to the roadmap, ranging from bugs and interface changes to content features.(Agency: InSites Consulting)

Before or after the launch, the product experience or user perception can provide valuable input towards improvements, care or support, positioning, communication and go-to-market strategy. By testing one of their new Hula Hoops variations in a private community, United Biscuits discovered that the recipe was too salty. They amended it and the tweaked product is now on the shelves. (Agency: Join the Dots). The Young Vic theatre changed his positioning to create a unique and attractive identity for their target group, based on interactions with consumers on an online platform. (Agency: Sense Worldwide)
In a world of empowered consumers and mass media, it’s important to embrace these changes as an opportunity instead of a threat, for example by using similar channels to connect with your target group. Universal Music also understood this and is now changing the go-to-market of their singles by collaborating with their Speakerbox community to anticipate on the spread of pirated copies in the digital world.
How are you collaborating with your customers?

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