What We’re Saying

The rise of the participative, initiative-taking consumer

18 August 2022

Now that the pandemic is finally behind us, who are my customers now, what do they really want and how do I reach them is a question we are frequently asked by MCCP clients?

While this is a bit of an obvious question, it is a tricky question to answer right now. The world has had such a continuous string of crises for over two years, facing one, has now become habitual. Be it Covid 19, Brexit, the war in Ukraine, supply chain criticality, the cost of living crisis, rising inflation and now a looming recession, each of these has taken their toll on consumers' view of the world and what is to come.

Years of solitude, isolation, and these crises have given consumers the opportunity to reflect on what they really value as individuals. Despite this clarity, consumers are growing frustrated with brands that do not support them, and act on these epiphanies before they become outdated or off-trend. Consumers are now hungry to have a more active role and participate in what becomes their future. This has driven raw momentum into the market, the pace of which, can feel unreasonable.

Brands have traditionally built meaning and value over extended periods of time, time that is simply not there anymore. To navigate rapidly changing landscapes successfully, idea generation needs to satisfy consumer needs while simultaneously affording the opportunity of expanding on the realm of possibility. This we believe is the job of co-creation.

At MCCP we value and excel at inviting consumers into a room and asking pertinent questions. With the rise of this more participative, initiative-taking consumer, coupled with the pace of change, we recognise there is additional merit in stretching traditional research methods, to include co-creation. This is the act of inviting consumers into your ideation space early and allowing ideas to come from new points of view and angles resulting in innovative solutions, new or enhanced products, and services.

Continuing to seek out, through research, brand insight holds as much value as it always has done. Right now, extending this, to include consumer collaboration, through facilitated co-creation, can lead to deepen a brand owner’s understanding of the consumer while developing future potential products and services. Products and services that are unique, grounded in perspective, that are free from industry bias and insider knowledge.

By sitting, asking questions and listening deeply, brand owners can get a real sense of where the consumer is and meeting them where they are. As a business, you catch opportunities early that allow you to build and expand on your own ideas but critically, allow you to avoid costly mistakes further down the line.

By bringing together consumers and company subject matter experts, new meaning and previously undiscovered solutions can come to fruition. More importantly, right now, it can also get products to market quicker.

With the increased involvement of consumers, co-creation generates alignment and buy-in quickly. Not just the consumer who produced the idea in the first place but also those internally that need to sign off the capital expenditure to bring the idea to life in the market, aka Chief Financial Officers.

In MCCP we have developed a range of cocreation methods and techniques to bring real meaning to the participative consumer. Everything from creative exercises to sensory trialling for real-world analysis. Ethnographic techniques, such as in-home usage tests, product journaling, social listening, observation, and empathy mapping all carry value in knowing early what the consumer thinks, while managing risk in the new product development lifecycle.

Cocreation techniques are not just the function of qualitative research. Online surveys to include MaxDiff analysis allowing consumers to pick features they like from assorted options, to give rise to a new variant or a preferred proposition, also helps open new possibilities.

Cocreating, at a time of peak reflection and realisation, is a rich territory for a brand planning forward. As a brand owner, having the consumer participate early, will give you a real sense of what has changed and what is important and more pointedly right now, what is no longer important.

Creating a haven for consumers to express themselves and tell you, the brand owner, what they really want is sure to bring value to the time spent and a much more rewarding way to do it also, live and in person.

If you are ready to work your time, research and positioning harder and become a consumer-centric innovator, get in touch, your brand strategy agency of choice is ready to co-create with you!

Gráinne Morrison, Strategy Director, MCCP

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