The ability to innovate is a key competency for any brand that wants to stay ahead of the curve. But let’s face it, it is not easy. Innovation takes a lot of time and effort.
Whether you are a seasoned executive or a junior brand manager, there are cross-functional teams to organize, competing agendas and deadlines, as well as resource and capability constraints.
As a result, most brands struggle to innovate effectively. Some rehash old processes and continue to gather insights on things they already know lots about when they should be focused on finding deep insights. Others focus inwards and do it all themselves without validating each idea and decision. As a result, many ideas rarely make it beyond the conceptual stage and almost all of them usually fail.
However, these more traditional product development methodologies (where new products are developed behind the doors), are gradually being superseded by a far more dynamic and open approach to innovation. We call this co-creation.
The Changing Consumer
The industrial system of product innovation has served us well for the past hundred years or so. However, this system of value creation is no longer fit for purpose. This is because the role of the consumer has evolved significantly over the past two decades.
They are no longer passive recipients of products and services. They are now active collaborators who have moved from being isolated to connected and from being unaware to increasingly more informed about the world around them. This ever-changing role of the consumer manifests in the following ways:
- Information at our fingertips: with instant access to a range of product information (reviews, comparisons, offers), consumers can make more informed decisions about their purchases.
- Global is the new local: consumers are no longer limited to product choices from their high streets. They now have access to products from anywhere in the world.
- Experimentation: Consumers can also use the Internet to experiment with and develop products, especially digital ones.
- Community networks: nowadays, particularly younger generations, realise the value and benefits of being part of a digital community where consumers can share ideas and opinions about brands and future trends in real-time and from anywhere in the world.
- Activism: As consumers learn more, they become empowered to make more informed purchase decisions. The community networks they belong to embolden one another to act and speak out when brands miss the mark on a range of social and environmental issues.
The impact of these factors results is a more engaged and value-driven consumer. It is this consumer that brands need to actively collaborate with in order to compete in this ever-changing marketplace.
The New Value Creation Arena
To highlight the impact this change is having, let us examine the dynamics between doctors and patients in the public health space.
Over the past two decades, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of health and wellness brands looking to disrupt public healthcare services. These brands are offering new ways for consumers to engage in their healthcare choices, which is forcing a change in the role of the doctor-patient relationship.
As a healthcare consumer, you now have access to lots of research and alternative treatment choices via the internet and new brand platforms. You can read about, and research alternative treatments and therapies for a range of conditions and form an opinion about what the right path of treatment might be for you.
In effect, there is a broader value pool for you to engage with than there was before. Examples of this are new gut health brands that promote scientifically proven diet regimens. These are supported by large community networks of like-minded people who empower people to achieve their healthcare goals.
Instant Gratification and Connection
When it comes to communication, the majority of public health services are still operating in an in-person only appointment system where consumers may have to wait for days (sometimes longer) to see a doctor before they can see someone and communicate their concerns to them.
Nowadays, consumers are communicating with friends and colleagues on a range of different platforms in real-time. And yet, the in-person appointment system feels very dated and out of touch with how the modern consumer conducts their live. Therefore, the role of the doctor-patient relationship within the traditional system needs to evolve. The method of delivering care needs to shift from a top-down, one-size fits all approach to a more collaborative and personalized one that meets people’s increasingly more informed understanding of the healthcare space.
These shifts directly challenge the following the assumptions that business and brands create value unilaterally and that value exists exclusively in the brands products and services.
Growing Community in the Marketplace
In the new model of value creation, we are seeing consumers engage increasingly in the processes of both defining and creating value. Take Unilever as an example where their brand team (supported by Vurvey) adopted a co-creation process to create a new skincare brand, Melé. This is a skincare product that supports the science of melanin-rich skin.
With many brands before them failing to meet the expectations and quality standards of their target audience, the Melé brand team adopted a co-creation process working closely with a community of African American women to define every aspect of the product mix.
In the traditional value creation model, brands and consumers have distinct roles of production and consumption. The value derived from products and services is exchanged between producer and consumer in the marketplace. In this model, the value creation process takes place outside the market.
However, in the process Unilever and the Melé team adopted, the co-creation experience of the consumer formed the basis of value creation. The processes of interaction between the consumer and the business came directly from the marketplace.
The Shift to a Co-Creation Mindset
As the shift towards co-creation continues, we believe more value creation will occur within the marketplace. This is because the co-creation focuses on creating personalised experiences between consumers and brands where value creation now sits within the co-creation experience of consumers.
At Vurvey, we believe the future of innovation is incredibly bright and that the future of competition rests firmly in this new approach to value creation. For businesses and brands looking to make this future a reality, they must fundamentally shift their innovation models and processes to ones that make information and operations open and accessible to all collaborators. They must change the way they engage with consumers and have more meaningful dialogues at every stage of the innovation process.