Co-Creation: How 3 brands listened to customers and found success

two people working together on a white board


It’s obvious, but it bears mentioning: by co-creating with consumers, brands are significantly more likely to produce products and services that address their customers actual needs, and to incorporate elements and features that improve their experience.

Co-creation builds confidence in an offering on both sides of the transaction. Brands are confident that they’re addressing their customers’ pain points, and consumers are confident that their voices are listened to. It has the added benefit of creating a bond between brand and customer, and a community amongst customers!

This week, we’re looking at three examples of successful co-creation and diving into how they work.

gray sedan

1. the Porsche Cayenne SUV

Porsche went through an extensive, yet simple, co-creation process when designing their Cayenne SUV.

What did they do? They surveyed their customers. They started asking questions about the features that their designers were thinking of including. If customers said they would pay for a given feature, it was included. If they wouldn’t, it wasn’t.

What was the result of this process? The Cayenne SUV became a best-seller and one of the most profitable SUVs (Motley Fool, 2014).

Now, you might be thinking “This is all well and good for Porsche, but… it’s Porsche. They’re one of the most successful automotive brands on the planet.”

Well co-creation works for everyone, from expensive cars to ubiquitous toys. To see this, we need look no farther than the small plastic bricks constantly underfoot.

multi-colored plastic blocks

2. the LEGO Ideas program

All the way back in 2004, LEGO took a revolutionary approach to open-source product development and launched the LEGO Ideas program. The program allows anyone to submit an idea for a set, and the winning creator gets a laundry list of prizes:  final approval over the product, recognition on the box and in the marketing, and they can even earn a percentage of sales.

This in-house crowdsourcing platform has fielded ideas for designs and toy sets from over 1 million people (LEGO, 2018), and launched more than a score of LEGO Ideas sets, which have proven to be very popular.  The LEGO Ideas program has been the subject of media coverage, and strengthened customer loyalty; LEGO’s embrace of co-creation shows how collaboration can create new communities of fans, and strengthen the bond between brand and consumer.

Fans take photos of the pitch with their phones

3. Manchester City FC’s website refresh

Manchester City FC’s leadership knows how fanatically loyal and invested fans are in the success of the team. They also know full-well the value in working together with their supporters.

When it came time to improve the team’s website and mobile apps,  Manchester City’s front office collected feedback throughout the brand refresh (The Drum, 2016). They held focus groups, conducted surveys and user tests, and user-tested prototype designs. Together the club and its fans co-created a modern, mobile-first, video-rich experience for the Man City community.

Beyond dodging the backlash that often comes with an overhaul of a familiar app or website, the club capitalized on the opportunity to engage with their community and expand and deepen the bond with its fans.

Woman puts notes on the wall

the Bottom-Line

Ultimately, the customer always has the final say in whether or not a product succeeds, so astute brands should include the customer in the design process itself.

Beyond leading to new products and process improvements, co-creation can build confidence in a brand, enhance the brand experience, and create a sense of community amongst its supporters (Emerald, 2019). LEGO’s approach is perhaps the most excellent example here. The LEGO Ideas platform has built and strengthened the LEGO community by offering fun and collaborative design challenges. When customers are able to participate in product development, they’re more likely to view the brand positively, to feel like they’re being listened to and that their ideas have value (Kapta, 2019).

What do you think? Where does co-creation fit into your brands’ toolkit? If you’re ready to capitalize on the benefits of co-creation, check out the MindSumo resources page and get started.


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