I've written a lot about co-creation over the past 9 months, demonstrating how it helps consumer product strategy (CPS) professionals develop better products. A majority of companies are not yet using social technologies to involve consumers in the product development process, but that will soon change.  We expect an increasing number of companies to move from the education phase into the experimental phase in 2011 and 2012 — or risk being left behind while their competitors move forward. Why do we expect co-creation to take off over the next two years?  The research provides a compelling case:

  • Social co-creation delivers substantial benefits to CPS pros, with few barriers. Whether you are looking for new product ideas, validation of internal ideas, or ongoing customer input to the product development process, social co-creation provides a unique way of interacting directly and repeatedly with consumers, with quick turnaround times. Co-creation delivers value.
  • CPS pros recognize the value of co-creation. Even though uptake is far from ubiquitous today, CPS pros recognize the transformative properties of co-creation. Seventy-two percent of product strategy professionals believe social technologies will enhance their existing capabilities of using customer input to shape product strategy.
  • Consumers are interested in participating. Sixty-one percent of US online adults are "willing co-creators," and over half of them are interested in the co-creation process regardless of what product, service, or brand it involves. That tells us that social co-creation can be employed by just about any company, providing they find the right participants with which to engage.
  • Companies are successfully engaging with consumers in co-creation. I've published five case study reports showing how companies like Ford, Starbucks, Unilever, Philips, and Intercontinental Hotels Group/Chase Bank have embraced co-creation to gather insight from consumers and solve product strategy problems. Success stories help CPS pros get off the sidelines and into the game.

My latest research helps companies take the next step in implementing co-creation engagements. It's called "Market Overview: Co-Creation Vendors 2011." Inside, I offer CPS professionals guidance around the relative benefits of ideation sites, private online communities, co-creation contests, and in-person workshops. I also offer some examples of vendors that can help implement each engagement, as well as recommendations for bringing that co-creation engagement closer to fruition.

To be clear: This document is NOT a comprehensive list of all vendors, nor is it a ranking of vendors a la Forrester's Wave™ evaluations. Think of it as a starting point in the vendor education, evaluation, and selection process, both for companies that are smartly preparing for their first move into co-creation, or companies that currently use certain types of co-creation engagements but that are interested in expanding their efforts.

Are you a CPS pro thinking about a new co-creation engagement? Drop me a note at dwilliams AT forrester DOT com; I'd love to chat about it with you. Likewise, if you are a vendor that offers a co-creation solution, let's get in touch — or just schedule a briefing with me (click here to do so).

(Quick FYI: Listening platforms and public communities also offer useful ways to leverage social tools for co-creation purposes. Other colleagues at Forrester have written about and evaluated vendors that offer these services, so I have not included them in this report. However, I welcome the opportunity to speak with these vendors as well, so please leave a comment and your contact information below or schedule a briefing.)

Finally — follow me on Twitter if you are interested in co-creation: @DougWilliamsMHD — Thanks!