Customers as co-innovators in Marketing ?


As the Web 2.0 paves the way for customers to express directly their needs, behaviors, product usage, and desires, and as product innovation is center stage in many industries, I found this question to become front stage nowadays.

As you can see from Forrester study among marketing executives back in 2005, capturing customer needs was still executed via very classical methods.

On line conduits and particularly blogs were not very high on the list. What would it be today and moving forward, especially in the industries where we can assume most of our customers and prospects are on-line ?

Take a quick look at the Forrester focus on what they’ve been calling Innovation Networks and multiple examples in a wide range of industries including consumer goods (e.g. P&G, IBM, Fitch, Tecnomatix, …).
Procter & Gamble is probably a good reference to all of us in marketing. Well, they are inviting all of the innovators on-line to engage with them on a site created by yet.com a specialized consulting firm in that area.

But numerous other brands are connecting lead users directly to their R&D team on-line through collaboration tools to drive the next innovation. IBM, a major competitor to the company I’m working for, is even trying to do business out of this new trend with their On-Demand Innovation Services (ODIS).

This post is not the place for me to expand on this demonstration that customers are now fully empowered to be co-innovators to your brand, but I think you’re getting it at this point if you were not already exposed to this trend before. What is valid for large and established corporations among the Fortune 500 for R&D, should be a reality for us in Marketing, whatever the size of our company. In the Marketing 2.0 era, company size is not a major handicap anymore.

As I was stating earlier, the strategic challenge for a company is to do the things that will make people want to do business with it, rather than marketing its products and services. As such, we should embark on a journey where lead customers and influencers can collaborate with us on-line and live to better define what are the most effective and relevant communication vehicles – together with the messaging – from our brand to the outside world rather than keep brainstorming in isolation – even with our preferred communication agency – to infuse pseudo innovation in our strategic planning.

This is about Marketing 2.0.

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