Co-Creation with Children Brings New Product to Market

Published Oct-02-12

A small group of children help a global food giant develop a new product.

Kellogg Company, United States

The Story:

Co-Creation with Children Brings New Product to Market Co-creation is the open innovation approach that is now the focus of increasing attention from the business community as companies seek to capitalize on the intelligence and creativity of their consumers. It can be used to modify existing products and services or create brand new ones.

Multinational food manufacturing company Kellogg’s embarked on a co-creative initiative that resulted in a new food product called Cereal Straws.

Going Back to School

The project started in a classroom in Spain where nine and ten year-old children were asked to describe and discuss their difficulties with breakfast cereals and to come up with ideas to resolve these problems. The only provisos were that their ideas had to taste good and be something that they would enjoy.

From these discussions a common theme emerged from one particular group and that concerned drinking milk. To the children this was a boring drink and something that their parents made them consume. They preferred the association with milkshakes and being able to drink them with straws.

New Product Concept

What emerged from all these discussions was an entertaining concept of not only drinking milkshakes through straws but eating the straws afterwards – provided they were crunchy and tasted good.

This concept went through a number of iterations as Kellogg's researchers got to work on it, and the end result was a brand new product - Kellogg’s Cereal Straws. Although it was created with significant input from company scientists, the bottom line is that the straws originated in the minds of the co-creators, in this case a group of children.

Discovering New Ideas

The ideas that form the basis of your new products and services could come from anywhere on the planet, provided you are open to external input and know how to best harness the crowds to achieve the results you are after.

In the past the role of the consumer in the innovation process was minimal, really nothing more than feedback that may have come in via the mailbag. But in today’s 24/7 global marketplace their role is increasing as companies seek to differentiate themselves from the competition.

These forward-thinking enterprises realize that it is short-sighted to rely solely on internal expertise. Consumers are creative and it makes rock solid sense to work with them.

One of the catalysts to this new way of thinking and working is the ubiquity of social media websites with customers interacting with companies via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest et al and providing positive and negative comments and general feedback. At its most basic level this is the modern-day equivalent of calling a company’s customer service line or putting pen to paper.

Engaging Social Media Communities

But social media networks are also providing a more sophisticated form of interaction as companies create specialist web-based communities consisting of highly informed consumers who provide deep and rich insights into existing products, new products, and challenges that an organization may be facing.

For this process to work well, it must be open and transparent, and consumers have to be treated with the same level of importance as company personnel.

The rewards of co-creation can be great indeed as customers use their talents and creative energies to help boost your bottom lines.

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