On the Road with the UK’s First Crowdsourced Car

Published Oct-22-12

French automobile manufacturer builds a car with members of the public via Facebook.

Citroen, France

The Story:

On the Road with the UK’s First Crowdsourced Car According to motor giant Citroen its C1 Connexion is the UK’s first crowdsourced car.

Featuring the slogan ‘You like it, we make it’ the car company collaborated with Facebook on an app that let the public have their say on a special edition of one of its popular vehicles. More than 80,000 C1 cars have been bought in the UK since its launch in 2005.

Community Participation

The app was launched in April 2012 and Citroen urged the 81,000 members of its Facebook community to participate. They were asked to determine the model’s look, equipment and details from a range of possibilities. This included options for the number of doors, interior and exterior colors, and communications equipment such as the Sat Nav system. This virtual ‘factory floor’ was open for just one month.

Many responded to the open innovation initiative submitting a total of approximately 24,000 configurations. An added incentive to encourage crowd involvement was that participants were entered into a draw to win one of the new cars as they rolled off the production line.

Crowdsourced Car Unveiled

Following the submission period Citroen collated all the data and design suggestions and selected the most popular model. Its details were revealed to the public in May 2012 shortly before going into production. The crowdsourced special edition is a 3-door car finished in Caldera Black body color with Scarlett Red highlights on the wing mirrors and door handles. In addition, there are alloy wheels and red interior detailing. Citroen said of its new car that it was ‘created for the Facebook generation, by the Facebook generation’.

There was also a supplementary competition as members of the public were asked to help design the badge for the model.

The Power and Potential of Online Communities

As companies nurture their online communities they are able to witness the level of passion that consumers have for the brands they love, and how much they want to be involved in helping them to achieve their goals. There is a clear desire to have an input into new products as well as improving existing ones. The crowd has plenty of ideas and businesses ignore this at their peril.

It is up to companies to decide how best to engage their communities, whether asking them to come up with game-changing ideas, solve thorny technical challenges or as with the C1 Connexion make some ‘A, B or C’ design choices.

In addition to producing new or enhanced products and services community engagement can also be a huge marketing success that puts a company’s message in front of more people. As a result of the C1 Connexion app Citroen’s Facebook fan base grew by more than 13,500 fans.

Making design choices is one of the simplest forms of community engagement and it can be very effective. But just think what could happen if followers are fully allowed to stretch their creative muscles and participate with each other. This is heading toward virtually uncharted open innovation territory as it has only been tried by a very small number of companies.

However, fueled by social media networks community involvement could radically transform the way companies innovate, providing they learn how to work effectively with the crowd.

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