Brands can scale much faster with consumers as collaborators
By Madhav Sheth
Much like how Rome was not built in a day, neither were loyal, passionate and committed fans that form the crux of a successful organisation. Think about the colourful, building blocks of Danish origin that make you feel like a master of your creative universe. Lego, which started as a simple wooden toy company in the 1930s, has developed into one of the world’s largest toy brands, with diverse product lines, thematic sets, consumer communities, and even films!
The phenomenon has created new generations of fans who expect nothing short of the best, and has also birthed parallel industries. For organisations to survive and flourish in the next normal, it will take more than just simply ticking off the checklist, but to flip the rulebook altogether. Why will co-creation emerge as a game-changer?
Building creative capital
As Bill Watterson rightly said, “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet”. Neither can creativity just be the domain of a few. Brands are turning their lenses to one of the most dynamic and infinite sources of creativity externally — the consumer. A company can greatly augment its creative capital by monitoring feedback, listening to social media, and crowdsourcing ideas. What’s more important is that creative capital is not limited to just one aspect, like product development. It extends to other parts of the value chain, such as customer service, retail experience, design and tech capabilities, marketing campaigns, etc.
Offline stores, for example, have evolved from being mere sales outlets to sensory experiences. Increasing user insights have led consumer technology brands to create immersive experiences in store, so that visitors can visualise a life that is empowered by technology. In a red ocean market such as Asia, where innovation is the key to outperforming rivals, creative capital is the key to sustained success.
Value of ecosystems
To capitalise on long-term ROI and achieve strategic growth, organisations must turn to super consumers. Such consumers not only believe in transactional relationships, but also qualitative, value-driven engagement. As a result, brands are building ecosystems of interconnected products and services for them to indulge in. Disney remains the gold standard in successful ecosystem creation with theme parks, streaming platforms, toys, physical merchandise, cartoons and comics, and more!
The smartphones and consumer electronics industry is a hotbed of change and evolution. An audiophile who loves using smart hearables is more likely to cross over to other adjacencies such as smart home care, entertainment and wearables for a more holistic, seamless experience. The road to a successful ecosystem need not just be reliant on a brand’s capacity or acquisition strategy. It could also be achieved by partnering with brands with similar dreams and supporting them with R&D, supply, and quality assurance to meet the ever-evolving needs of the consumer. Through their sheer nuance, scale and variety, ecosystems are more poised to bring solutions that improve the overall quality of life.
Choosing the right innovation can be challenging. There are plenty of examples where ideas hit the dust because they were too outlandish or way ahead of their time. Co-creative efforts help monitor the consumer’s pulse effectively and understand their pain points and gaps. The Ikea effect, in fact, highlights how people attach more value to products they have helped create. It could be something as simple as assembling a piece of furniture or as complex as creating new products.
Whether it’s toys, consumer goods or smartphones, it is imperative to be agile and adapt. History has shown that consumers connect deeply with brands that anticipate trends, even buck them, and have their ears to the ground. Brands with consumers as their greatest evangelists/collaborators will scale that much faster.
The author is VP – Realme, and CEO – Realme India & Europe