Co-Creating with Consumers Generates Wins for Kraft Foods

Published Sep-17-12

Breakthrough:
An online community of knowledgeable and influential consumers helps generate more than 60 new ideas for Kraft Foods.

Company:
Kraft Foods, United States

The Story:

Co-Creating with Consumers Generates Wins for Kraft Foods The emergence of co-creation as a new form of open innovation engagement with consumers is a trend that is becoming hard to ignore. For product development, innovation and strategic thinking it can help businesses to reduce risk and enhance their offerings and value.

Customers as Assets

Increasingly, consumer knowledge and intelligence are being viewed as key assets. Customers have expertise about your brands and their use and are already plugged into networks, some of which they will use to discuss your offerings.

Consumers have long been involved in helping to shape products and services in the form of feedback, surveys, opinion polls and other means of correspondence. But co-creation goes much deeper; it’s active creative dialogue with customers that is re-shaping the innovation process. And there are those who argue that businesses cannot afford to ignore it if they want to get ahead.

Welcome to the Idea Cafe

The multinational confectionery company Kraft Foods is no stranger to open innovation and is at the leading edge of involving consumers in product creation and innovation. One such example is the Idea Cafe it set up with Insites Consulting to generate new thinking to feed its innovation funnel.

What the company was after were some solid ideas not just a plethora of random and unfiltered creative thoughts that would take forever and a day to process. To realise its aims the company invited 50 Belgian Kraft consumers to join its three week Ideation and Concept Development Community, a highly organised and structured entity with clearly defined steps and processes.

The initiative consisted of a number of stages including:

Category exploration - an information gathering exercise that pulled together relevant material for insight exploration such as consumer behaviours, covered and uncovered need states, brand values and insights on foods.

Internal KF idea generation - a day of group brainstorms involving key personnel across a number of departments.

Consumer idea generation - a three-week moderated online platform involving the 50 innovative and influential consumers. During the first week innovators individually came up with ideas; week two involved both innovators and influentials in further idea generation and idea fine tuning; and during the third week innovators and influentials continued to fine tune ideas whilst also offering their insights and feedback on Kraft’s ideas.

The net result of this open innovation initiative was that Kraft received more than 60 unique ideas both for short-term ‘quick wins’ and for long-term ideas for development.

Building Trust with Passionate Consumers

During the co-creation process the quality of interactions with consumers is of paramount importance. Community members need to be knowledgeable, highly involved and passionate about what a company has to offer in order to provide conversations and insights that make an impact.

In the intimate setting of a community trust can be built which creates a safe environment for businesses to explore deeper emotions and perspectives. The conversations are authentic and when translated into meaningful outputs can help brands accelerate their timeframes as they develop and market new product lines.

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