What makes for successful co-creation with consumers online? I recently watched a video of Greg Piche, Innovation Sourcing Lead at Clorox, talking about Clorox Connects, their idea-sourcing platform, and what they had learnt in the 6 months that they had been using it. The key criteria for success as they appeared to me were:
Greg spoke about the differences between using a turn-key solution, where you post your challenge on an existing idea-generation site, or building your own platform. His preference was for a site which the company owned, listing a number of advantages including lower cost per use (eventually), and better understanding of who the community is, with more possibility of building a long-term relationship with them. Of course, this requires ongoing effort and engagement, with a dedicated community manager, but having an active community means that is quicker to set up new challenges.
One of the key challenges is to get the right people on board for the challenges. Greg spoke about how they actively source people to join particular challenge groups. For example, one challenge was around collaborative consumption. They therefore searched on Twitter and Facebook for people who were talking about this topic and invited them to join. They also used LinkedIn to connect with people who have particular skillsets which might be valuable to the group, such as designers and artists. Each of the co-creation groups is relatively small, numbering 50-80 people.
Right incentives – and framework
Greg acknowledged the need for incentives to motivate people to take part in the first place – Clorox offer a ‘prize’ of $1000 for winning ideas. And at the same time, there is a need for a watertight legal framework in place, so there aren’t any disputes down the line about who owns an idea.
As this consumer-facing program has only been going 6 months, there haven’t been any new products developed from ideas from the site as yet, but Greg is aiming for 3 ideas to be taken forward per year. He sees the benefits extending beyond the idea generation, as it offers a way for consumers to engage with Clorox in a unique, exclusive way – and he says that the ‘brand folks really like it’, with one of the reasons being that it provides them with strong content that they can use on other Clorox sites. The platform acts as a bridge between marketing and development.
I hadn’t seen the Clorox Connects website before I viewed the talk, and I was slightly disappointed when I got there by the design. The home page is dominated by a bulletin-board style display of ideas, with no explanation of what it is all about or what the purpose is. It doesn’t have the welcoming, warm, consumer-friendly feel of Clorox’s main website, and for that reasons feels off-brand. And there are no challenges for people to collaborate around or to spark your thinking, at least that are visible on the main site.
The Open Ideo website is a good example of a well-designed innovation and ideas generation site. On the home page it clearly states its purpose and invites you to join, and there is a short animation which explains in an engaging way how the site works and what the benefits are to you to join. There are featured challenges on the home page, posed in the form of questions. And the site is structured around community, with people being encouraged to collaborate on ideas, and sharing of stories about ideas that are being put into practice. Strong purpose, strong questions, strong sense of community – I would add these three as ‘must-haves’ for any co-creation project – whether for products or for social innovation.
One of the winning Open Ideo ideas that is currently being put into practice is for a project that is a collaboration between Open Ideo, Unilever and WSUP (Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor), answering the question ‘How can we improve sanitation and better manage human waste in low-income urban communities?’ This is a good example of how social innovation, as well as product innovation, can be fertile ground for FMCG companies to engage with consumers on.
(Greg Piche’s slides for his talk are available to view on Slideshare).