4 Steps to Co-creating With Your Customers

4 Steps to Co-creating With Your Customers

By Jason Ku · 4 July 2016 · 4 minute read

How to use insight communities to creatively engage with customers


"And, thus, we are all looking for the magic formula. Well, here you go: Creativity + Iterative Development = Innovation"  — James Dyson, Founder, Dyson

Welcome to our brand new blog! Moving forward, our team will write regularly on exciting things we’re working on, the latest trends in marketing, and common challenges we come across. In kicking things off, we’re tackling one of our most commonly asked questions: “Can we do a co-creation project?”

First, let’s just clarify the difference between “crowdsourcing” vs “co-creation”. Crowdsourcing is submitting a brief or inviting a group of people to submit ideas and concepts and allowing users to create ideas. On the other hand, we have co-creation, which is brands working collaboratively alongside customers and consumers to develop new perspectives, ideas and solutions. 

Why do we recommend co-creating with your customers? Simply put, if you are developing things for customers you are more likely to end with success if you involve them at multiple points in the process, for inspiration, insight or ideas.

It’s become popular because:

  • Product and service lifecycles are shortening in a competitive global economy
  • The growth of iterative and design thinking approaches
  • The best solutions come when brands work efficiently and effectively with customers
  • Innovation isn’t always about breakthrough, it’s about iterative development


Co-Creation is best for…



What is the role of insight communities?

An insight community is a group of customers who have agreed to participate in ongoing dialogue with a brand (and other customers) via an online platform.

It lends itself to longitudinal iterative activities and conversations and enables different methods and tools to be blended together, with deeper engagement and a spirit of collaboration.


How can co-creation be conducted on an insight community? 

Here is a framework for co-creation:


The process begins by discovering the true situation at hand and exploring the triggers and pain points. Through questions and observation, we raise new questions and reveal consumer behaviors. The goal is to identify new opportunities inspired by real needs.



This next stage involves turning our knowledge into insights, aligning consumer experiences with business objectives and defining the initial stages of a solution or vision for the future.



With a newly defined vision in mind, it’s time to explore the best solutions. Ideating with members is used to find unique and creative approaches. Involving the R&D/innovation team can guide the community in the right direction and get buy-in.



In the last stage, realign with the team to decide on the ideas for focus and most potential

R&D to create real solutions for refinement. Test concepts in community for evaluation and further deepen understanding.


What tools can be used at each step?

We always like to tell our clients that it’s up to them and it can differ for each project. Here are some of the tools that we use to engage community members… 

  • Visual surveys
  • Discussions forums 
  • Online video interviews
  • Video messaging 
  • Mobile app diaries
  • Online focus groups (‘live chats’)
  • Mind mapping tasks


The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Co-creation


  • Have an open mind about who is involved in the co-creation process
  • Take the effort to build up those involved and maintain engagement and excitement
  • Make objectives and solutions as real as possible, allowing for everyone involved to make a real impact


  • Make the process too large or too rushed, it takes grooming and iterations to get good ideas
  • Overwork the members. Mix the members and don’t only push survey after survey
  • Throw out the “stupid” or “outlying” ideas. There may be truths to ideas that may be mentioned by a single person


Inspired yet? If you want to get creative and create something special, invite your customers and engage with them. Co-creation is all about building relationships to “jointly create value”. Check out some additional thoughts and cases on co-creation published on Forbes.