Innovation Inspiration: Empowering the Consumer

28 Sep 2010|Added Value

Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a shift in the relationship between companies and their customers : people are looking for ways to express their individuality, to experience more and to connect with others. Who’s leading the way in responding to these needs?
 1. Mass production versus individuality: Ford & Nike.iD
Ford’s launch of the Model T in 1915 acted as an industry-wide agent of change, and gave the many access to what had previously been the domain of the few. 95 years on, mass production is faltering. Products designed for the masses fail to address the human need for individuality, actually  suppressing people’s personality rather than encouraging self-expression.
Read More: Creating Value in the Age of Distributed Capitalism

Since the days of ‘any colour, as long as it’s black’, Ford has re-positioned itself at the forefront of personalisation in the car industry. Ford is in the process of re-forging the status of the car as an icon of individuality, aspiration and freedom. Cars won’t all look the same any more: a new era of emotional connection is dawning. 
 Read more : Ford Custom Graphics

 Thanks to advances in manufacturing technology, it’s becoming increasingly possible to provide the tools for product co-creation at the point of manufacture. What’s the benefit? It forges a bond between consumer and brand and instils personality into the products we surround ourselves with. Allow people to express themselves through consumption and relationships will flourish, it seems. The Nike i.D online customisation app recently hit $100M in sales
Read more : 5 Signs that Customer Co-creation Is a Trend to Watch

  2. Building experience: Apple
As much as product manufacturers attempt to build flexibility into their offerings, there are inherent limitations. But service-based and digital experiences aren’t restricted by these boundaries. Take Apple. Before the iPhone, buying a mobile phone was based on the features of physical products. The iPhone chose to compete on different terms: it provided a window to an experience, created for the user by the user. Competition now revolves around available services and experiences on the inside rather than the physical product on the outside.
 Read more:  iPhone: the Death of Product Design

 3. Social co-creation: Papa John’s
Consumption – and shopping in particular – are social experiences and peer review plays an important role. With the consumer being cast in the role of creator, the need for affirmation or re-direction becomes essential. And this shines the light on social media. Papa John’s pizza topping co-creation campaign lived largely on Facebook, allowing consumers to engage with the brand on their own terms. This landscape will evolve as mobile co-creation takes hold.
Read more: Mass Customization Best Practices

By Jonathan Hall, CEO, Added Value France

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