According to data in the Fall 2014 GRIT report, multiple techniques within the market research industry are gaining popularity, not only in actual use, but in terms of perceived value and overall interest. Among these is Crowdsourcing, with 49% of respondents categorizing it as “in use” or “under consideration” at their companies.

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The data suggests that companies are beginning to see the value of including customers in the innovation process. To us here at KL Communications, this is promising news, as we’ve been discussing that consumers are critical to innovation for some time now!

We believe, however, that while Crowdsourcing may be the term most commonly used when discussing how to involve customers, it’s also a term that is inherently limited. Instead, we prefer the term co-creation.

KLC’s Kevin Lonnie has tackled this topic previously in his 2013 post “The Power of the Crowd Lies in Co-Creation, Not Crowdsourcing”, and he discusses at length why Crowdsourcing and co-creation should not be confused with each other.  Crowdsourcing is where a challenge is given and the crowd works (independently) to create solutions to it. During co-creation, members of the crowd work together to make good ideas even better. In other words, co-creation truly accesses the power of the crowd because it involves collaboration. Kevin also describes Crowdsourcing as an evolving term, and the industry as a whole does not quite seem to understand what it means yet.

Ok, so Crowdsourcing is limited and often misunderstood, but 49% of us are trying (or at least checking) it out. So what now?

At KLC, this is where online communities come in (a technique, I should add, that 82% of respondents are using or considering!). We take our online communities, powered by our proprietary, hand-made community platform, and infuse them with some co-creation. Now the “crowd” is a group of already loyal individuals who care about the product or brand, and members work together to innovate and create new ideas. The motivation isn’t so much being the “winner’, but having a sense of involvement and knowing you can make an impact.

The result is that themes and issues emerge throughout the entire co-creation process, and not only are they considered just as important (and sometimes more important) as having a “winning” idea, but they provide the client with inspiration for future development. In other words, happiness on all sides, from members to internal stakeholders, and true collaboration throughout!