** In 2009 luxury fashion brand Burberry started to integrate customer concepts into its products with a simple online campaign called “Art of the Trench”. They asked customers to upload an image of themselves wearing Burberry’s famous trench. The campaign was a huge success, gathering more than 400 000 uploaded images in its first week, from fans in 191 countries. After nine months, more than 9 million visitors had come to the site. « The designers at Burberry took a lot of inspiration from the styling of these people around the world. They started to see trends and ways of wearing this garment across cultures, and across the world, and started to give inspiration and create opportunities for designers internally » says Francesca Danzi, global service standards manager for Burberry at that time.

This great success led Burberry to create Burberry Bespoke, a service that allows customers to design and order garments online. It also kickstarted Burberry’s social media activity. Since then, Burberry has been the most popular luxury fashion brand on Facebook, with more than 16 million fans. Why? Because Burberry engages its consumers in a dialogue.  It is able to use the data consumers share with them to design and market products, which would likely result in more sales.

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Lego has also kickstarted a co-creation platform of its own. Lego IDEAS was set up in 2014 for LEGO enthusiasts who can create, vote and give feedback on new projects. The projects that receive over 10,000 votes go into a review phase where senior LEGO employees decide if the product is viable for production. If the product is approved, the creator will receive 1% of the net sales of that product. More here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1L49BWDJb4  

Burberry and Lego are leaders in co-creation as they have proactively tried to create a collaborative culture. They manage to gain trust of their consumers by involving them into the creation process, develop a relationship with them and have a positive return on sales.


Why is building a relationship so essential nowadays and how to develop one?

Online, consumers tend to trust their peers more and more and disregard what brands can say about their own products. Judging their opinions less biased and more honest, a lot of consumers would actually buy something depending on another consumer’s opinion: 67% of them spend more online after reading the review of another consumer, while only 14% trust ads. Companies need to find new ways to engage their consumers and building trust is essential to do so. Since the Internet is now in everyone’s phone, consumers expect to be able to connect with a brand anytime and anywhere, in order to get all the information they need.

Social networks are massively used by brands to develop their relationship and show their constant reachability. Relational marketing that used to only consist in CRM, has now evolved towards individualized marketing, consisting in building a personalized and unique relationship with consumers and community marketing, enabling consumers to interact with each other online. In this perspective, a lot of companies are now being seduced by co-driven strategies, where the consumer takes part in the production process. Yet, co-creation only gets interesting when a brand gives the necessary tools and resources to its consumers to involve them in a collaboration process and not just in communication. It helps foster the relationship between a brand and its consumers.

How to effectively build a co-creation campaign?

  1. Properly target the co-creators

Traditional marketing practices of segmentation and targeting still matter online. A lot. Since 2001, for example, P&G has successfully been bringing outsiders into its R&D process by targeting retirees with specific skill sets, including P&G’s own alumnae, as well as retired technical specialists at airline companies. P&G’s co-creation platform, Connect + Develop, has developed dozens of products, boosted product development, and effectively doubled the number of people engaged in R&D, without having to hire them.


A McKinsey report has shown that companies who have succeeded in implementing co-creation activities actually segment their audience and tailor marketing promotions to what appeals to users: money, love or glory.

  1. Give them motivation.

Consumers need to be properly motivated in order to participate in co-creation activities and most of all to submit ideas that are good. Monetary compensation seems to be the easiest to give and to always be very much appreciated by consumers. A lot of companies implement this kind of motivators as it has some very good short-term results. Heineken launched its co-creation platform in 2012, asking game lovers, beer drinkers, and environmentally conscious consumers for ideas that would make its packaging more sustainable. The winner suggested a device (the Heineken-o-Mat) intended to turn recycling into a game and walked away with a $10,000 prize.

Yet, a McKinsey report has shown that 28% of consumers are driven by curiosity and desire to learn, 26% by entertainment and social play, 26% by building skills and only 20% by recognition and rewards. Starbucks, for example, fostered an atmosphere that welcomed the opinions and reviews of customers, and provided a platform for them to connect with each other: My Starbucks Idea. By talking to each other and to the company, customers shared views on store design, in-store music, and corporate social responsibility initiatives. The most active of the 250,000 participants in the first two years received recognition on the site; some also got the ultimate reward of their idea being among the 300 that the company has implemented.

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  1. Focus on a sustainable pay-off.

For co-creation to pay off over time, companies must focus on activities that deliver a sustainable competitive advantage.

** Co-creation activities can have a lot of advantages for brands. They can help improve the loyalty of a consumer, increase sales and recruit new consumers. However, they also imply to reevaluate the position of the consumer, who is to be considered as a partner of the brand, directly involved in the production process. This raises some new questions such as e-reputation and the competition risen between consumers and traditional employees of the brand.






One comment

  1. Fabulous post, as usual!

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