The Collaboration Divide: are you lagging behind?

Crowdsourcing, Co-creation and Consumer Collaboration have been buzzwords in marketing and business for at least 5 years now. We’re all talking about it, but is the market actually acting upon it. High time for a reality check!
In 2014, InSites Consulting (in partnership with GMI) studied the collaboration potential of brands in a worldwide Consumer Collaboration study (full results will be available summer 2015). First results show that 4 out of 5 consumers want to help out a brand/company by participating in co-creation/collaboration exercises. Next to that, the study also shows that, although this potential among the global online population seems to be huge, the average consumer only wants to do this for up to 5 brands or product/service categories. They say yes to the brands they have an emotional affinity with (= brand love) and/or the product/service categories they have a functional affinity with (= category involvement). Depending on the category you are in and the strength of your brands, your Consumer Collaboration Power as a company will be higher or lower.
Experience within a wide range of different product categories and types of services and by working with over 500 brands worldwide, teaches us that every company can find a sufficient number of interested and interesting consumers to collaborate with. But some of them are a bit harder to get to…

Collaboration Divide #1: Companies undervalue their consumers

Despite the huge potential among consumers, only the minority of companies is unleashing this Consumer Collaboration Power. In the same study (Collaboration Study 2014), we found that no more than 40% of consumers indicate having had a collaboration experience with a company. It seems that consumers are in front of the big company doors, knocking on them… but most companies do not invite them in.
During talks with senior executives from global brands, we could identify two main reasons for this behavior: (1) a disbelief in the value consumers could bring to the table and (2) the fear about the changes this will bring to the day-to-day job reality and business processes. However, this gap can be closed, by piloting the approach and by demonstrating that collaborating with consumers makes employees shine and companies successful.

Collaboration Divide #2: Companies listen, but don’t act upon it

In the book Firms of Endearment, the authors prove that companies which collaborate structurally with the outside world, even outperform the best in the class (the Good to Great companies). Companies which move up the ladder, from a company-oriented company towards a consumer-activated company, become more successful with every step they take:

  • Company-oriented: no consumer involvement in innovation, strategy development and daily decision making at all
  • Consumer-oriented: consumers are heard via traditional research methods, no active involvement of consumers
  • Consumer-centric: consumers are actively involved in most phases of the decision making across the whole organization
  • Consumer-activated: consumer feedback and insights guide the whole company in its practices and employee collaboration is added to the equation

Collaboration Divide #3: The entire company needs to join the collaboration

Last but not least, we notice that in a lot of companies only senior executives collaborate with the consumer world. This limited group can then shape an insight platform by adding own thoughts, observations and/or ideas. But by involving a wider group of employees, everyone will understand the consumer better and will be able to make better and more consumer-relevant decisions. Furthermore, the theory of open innovation teaches us that one golden idea could come from anywhere in the organization, not only from marketing or innovation.
To increase the impact, all employees across the organization need to learn what the friction is, in order to share related observations and ideas. For example, by experiencing how consumers are using their product today, employees see what can be improved. When such an insight is replicated by employees by adding own observations and ideas, it is shared with various people across the organization and it triggers action; the insight is turned into a meme.
An illustration of such a meme is what InSites Consulting did for ATAG, a leading supplier of kitchen appliances. ATAG wanted to move away from a product-driven strategy and introduce a consumer-driven approach. In order to make this shift, they needed to create an internal belief for their new strategy. We invited 400 internal stakeholders to discover the consumer insights and experience themselves how strong the emotion passion for cooking can be. The #welovecooks experience engaged over 170 employees, who contributed 125 observations; it resulted in 13 potential internal projects identified by the crowd. The new strategy was shared among employees and turned into the #welovecooks meme.
Consumer-activated companies know how to turn insights into memes: the whole organization knows about it, believes in it and acts upon it.

Eager for more? Get your free download of From co-creation to collaboration: 5 pillars for structural collaboration with your consumers!

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