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Digital Trends

Five great examples of co-created content

Authenticity is a word that seems to get thrown about a lot in the marketing world. According to a study by Authentic100, 78% of consumers don’t think brands are open and honest. This increasing cynicism towards brands, highlights a need to become more transparent and authentic.

One way brands are finding success with overcoming this challenge, is by teaming up with their audience to create content.75% of people feel user generated content makes a brand more authentic (the drum). Therefore, it’s a great thing to try in your marketing strategy.

In this blog I’ll be covering a few of my favourite marketing campaigns involving user-generated content. Use these ideas as a bit of inspiration for your next co-creation marketing campaign.

ASOS – #AsSeenOnMe

Back in 2014, ASOS launched a section on their website titled ‘As Seen on Me’. It links to images of their customers wearing clothes purchased from their website. Customers can upload photos directly to ASOS or by using the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe on Instagram.

As you’ll probably know fashion blogging is huge on social media. Thousands of users are posting their ‘outfits of the day’. ASOS have cashed in on this trend and have basically created a feed of adverts for their clothes for free!
Takeaway: Trendjack: Jump on social media trends and find a creative way to apply it to your brand.

Starbucks – White Cup Contest

You’ll probably be familiar with Starbucks white cup contest. Each year Starbucks invites its customers to decorate its coffee cups using the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. In return they can win a giftcard and their design to be printed on a reusable cup.

The result of the campaign? Loads of visually appealing social media posts which increased Starbucks organic reach and user generated product design!

Takeaway: Run a competition to encourage user-generated content

Cancer Research – No Makeup Selfie

Probably one of the most famous charity user-generated campaigns, Cancer Research no makeup selfie campaign raised more than £8 million in six days.  Incase you aren’t familiar with the campaign, users were encouraged to post selfies without makeup on, and then donate £5 to Cancer Research, and nominate others to do the ‘challenge’.

Takeaway: What you encourage your users to post doesn’t necessarily have to relate to your product. In this case, posting selfies without makeup on doesn’t relate to Cancer Research, yet was still hugely effective.

Loughborough University – #Lborofamily Golden Ticket campaign

Collaboration is at the heart of Loughborough University’s strategy. In 2016, the university sent out personalised golden tickets to all of the year’s new freshers. Many then took to social media to post pictures of them with their golden ticket using the hashtag #LboroFamily. This campaign drummed up excitement and helped the university expand their reach.

Takeaway: Creating something personalised for your audience will help to encourage engagement and user-generated content.

LEGO – LEGO Ideas

LEGO Ideas launched in 2015. The concept? Lego fans are invited to create an original LEGO build. Next, the fan has to gain support (similar to crowdfunding), if the creator gets 10,000 supporter then the LEGO board reviews the creation and decides whether to make it into a LEGO product to be sold around the world.

There are so many great things about this campaign. Firstly, it shows users being creative with their products. Secondly, to gain support for an idea, the user has to promote their idea (and LEGO) online which expands reach and brand awareness. Finally, having people vote on an idea, shows what LEGO users want to see in the shops.

Takeaway: Let your customers tell you what products they want to see.

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Talking co-creation, with insight director Tom Kenyon

Tom Kenyon

Tom Kenyon is the Director of Insight, Innovation and Strategy at the world’s leading co-creation agency, Latimer Group. With a background in innovation strategy for major broadcasters and non-profits organisations, Tom has developed award-winning digital campaigns for the BBC, Jamie Oliver, Channel 4 and ITV, and has recently headed up a multi-million pound programme on digital innovation in education for UK Think Tank, Nesta.

On why we’re seeing a need for co-creation…
“The agency world has traditionally been built on the idea of the rock star creative – the Don Draper figure crafting perfect broadcast moments. But the truth is, unless it’s the John Lewis Christmas ad or a Superbowl spot, broadcast moments reach fewer and fewer people. In a world of distinct audiences projecting different personalities on multiple platforms, Don Draper cannot save you. Young people in particular want content that doesn’t feel like broadcast; content that is relevant to their specific context, needs and interests. Co-creation offers a route to achieving that. Content by the audience, for the audience. This is why smart brands are moving towards more inclusive creative strategies.”

Don Draper

On how co-creation isn’t just for young audiences…
“Millennials and Gen Z have never had to ask permission to be published. Creating video and photo content is as natural for them as writing. Equally, brands have always had direct channels of communication – there is an expectation of open access. Co-creation could be seen as a response to these trends. However, it would be a mistake to think that co-creation only works for younger audiences. There has been a lot of work in public services such as Nesta’s People Powered Health programme that shows co-design and co-creation techniques can be an effective way to work with any audience that needs communication to meet their distinct needs.”

On a future where co-creation is ubiquitous…
“Co-creation is a symptom of wider trends (led by technology) towards inclusiveness, open-ness, disintermediation, transparency and hyper-targeted content. In the future if a brand’s messages and personality are built behind closed doors, people are going to wonder why. It will be understood that part of your brand message is going to be one of exclusion. And before anyone counters this with the old Steve Jobs quote that ‘People don’t know what they want until you show it to them’, bear in mind that (a) the Apple Store design was absolutely based on a co-creation process, and (b) Android’s open system has 85% of the international market share.”

Steve Jobs

On being ‘part of the conversation’…
“We are living in an age where brand identities are more in the hands of consumers than ever before. You can craft a public image and brand message as much you want – if the right influencer re-mixes your ad or goes viral with a comment, that becomes your brand identity. The only way to keep on top of that is to be part of the conversation (rather than lead it) and, increasingly, to have values or a purpose that is wider than the product itself.”

“We are living in an age where brand identities are
more in the hands of consumers than ever before.”

Talking co-creation, with industry expert Mark Baxter

mark baxter

Currently a managing partner at boutique growth consultancy Fika, Mark Baxter started his career at Procter & Gamble and has gone on to hold positions such as Head of Marketing & Strategy and Head of Global Strategic Category Marketing at Tesco. Having worked with a wealth of major international FMCG brands, he is an expert in the fields of commercial strategy, marketing, pricing, customer loyalty, digital and product launch.

On how co-creation means getting back to basics…
There is a push by customers for brands to be clearer (and more transparent). The market is shifting and consumers are demanding more from their products; it will be interesting to see how the established brands compete. Co-creation, simply put, is understanding who you are as a brand, creating products that you love and want to use, sticking to your principles and having conversations with your advocates. It’s a democratic approach to marketing and product development. It’s how brands originally evolved.

Locally sourced food product

On the consumer trends that are driving the co-creation shift…
Supermarkets are favouring private label and customers are favouring local brands – avoiding global markets and looking to protect local communities, farmers and tradesmen. There’s a regenerated appreciation for local and trust and transparency sit at the heart of that. Customers want to associate with likeminded people who will listen to them. The issue for brands is how to compete in this post scale economy, the balance between giving customers what they are seeking and making these options cost effective. In the past five years, large global brands have lost share to small brands and start-ups in 77% of categories. Consumers crave unique and authentic brands that share their personal preferences and are researching and seeking out products rather than responding to traditional advertising. This erosion is happening in almost every consumer category.

On Mergers and Acquisitions vs. Research and Development…
M&A has replaced R&D in many large FMCG companies and it will be interesting to see if these large brands are able to preserve the quality and authenticity of their acquisitions. (A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money – particularly as many customers see propaganda replacing marketing.) The big question is whether its better (read easier and more profitable) to innovate or acquire. I think the balance is tipping, but the large FMCG companies are acquiring disrupter brands at a premium with the aim of competitive neutralisation. Going forward, those that develop this skill will obtain competitive advantage, which will drive growth and competitiveness. We’re not quite there yet but the time will come.

Supermarket shoppers

On the changing expectations of millennials and Gen Z…
They’re not loyal to brands, they’re loyal to principles and values – that’s why brands are hurting. They’re turning down high paid city and corporate jobs and are pursuing fulfilling careers. The opportunity is to tap into this, however if that isn’t your natural state as a brand, it can be perceived as disingenuous. Successful brands and companies need to become truly customer-centric, which means listening and having conversations. The challenge is how to to this at scale without diluting the ethos.

“The big question is whether it’s better (read easier
and more profitable) to innovate or acquire.”

Talking co-creation, with academic Yvonne Richardson

yvon richardson

Yvonne Richardson is a marketing consultant and senior lecturer on Fashion Marketing and Branding at
Nottingham Trent University, with a specialisation in consumer behaviour and innovation. Her multi-disciplinary background includes more than 20 years of experience in brand marketing and planning with senior positions held within prominent blue chip international companies within the beauty and healthcare industries.

On winning brand loyalty with Generation Z…
“More than their predecessors, this younger generation desires opportunities to interact with brands and wants brands to allow them to influence their products. They are the content creation generation. Thinking about what this generation want most – they want honesty, personalisation and involvement. Giving them an opportunity to get involved via co-creation, you meet their intrinsic needs to stamp their mark on brands, make a real difference and actually customise their experience. The upside of this for brands is that you get their attention and if done well, their loyalty.”

Model

On the potential pitfalls of doing co-creation badly…
“I think there is a danger of co-creation being abused and brands jumping on the band-wagon. Co-creation is about letting in the right people for the right challenge. In the area of innovation for example, you need to target the right co-creators rather than taking a blanket approach. All consumers are not equal when it comes to innovation and tapping into the ideas of Mr and Mrs average may lack richness and originality. In the early stages of innovation, tapping into early adopter and innovators will be more effective in generating new and original ideas.”

On the ‘UGC bandwagon’…
“Another watch-out is brands jumping on the bandwagon and just curating user generated content (UGC) and hashtag campaigns to create buzz. Where these activities fall short is that they don’t truly satisfy millennials’ and Gen Z’s desire to actually create. This is a generation who are incredibly marketing savvy and hard to please. They want to know what’s in it for them, they want to feel special and get recognition. The message to brands here is exploit this generation at your peril!”

Advertisements

On the challenges of connecting to ‘Generation Me’…
“Today’s consumers are bombarded with more commercial messages than ever and have learned to filter these messages by using ad blockers, etc. Research suggests that these digital natives don’t like being advertised to explicitly; that they don’t like the pushy and inauthentic nature of a lot of traditional advertising. From a brand perspective one of the challenges this creates therefore is how to connect with this group and cut through the clutter. Another stereotype often levied at this ‘younger generation’ is that they are ‘generation me’, fuelled by social media and the numerous opportunities it creates for self-promotion and reflection. This is a generation that has grown up used to having their voices heard. Whilst not all millennial stereotypes hold up to closer examination, this generation really did grow up being told they were special and their opinions matter.”

“Thinking about what this generation want most –
they want honesty, personalisation and involvement.”

Meet the co-creation pioneers

Budweiser advertisement

Meet the brands that are bringing customer voice into their operations to create products, services, content and campaigns that are more reflective of what their customers actually want. We’d like to introduce, the co-creation pioneers…

Heineken: The nightclub of the future

The Dutch beer company Heineken wanted to connect to its customers through a pioneering pop-up nightclub space that reflected the wants and needs of its audiences. Through a global insight project that connected to communities from 12 cities around the world, Heineken worked with 120 club-goers as a springboard for idea generation and design inspiration – and created an internally crowd-sourced design team out of young designers who uploaded their portfolios via social media.

The pop-up concept club travelled the world. It gained mass global coverage including 533 news pieces and four million online views, and resulted in a 40% sales increase for Heineken in best practice markets.

Heineken advertisement

DHL: Customer-led innovation

Through a series of insight workshops, parcel delivery giants DHL realised that its customers wanted the brand to rethink its supply chains, and that this would improve business performance. Understanding that innovation should be customer focused, the company built international innovation centres in Singapore and Germany where targeted customer groups could collaborate with DHL employees in order to share ideas and co-create solutions. From over 6,000 employee customer engagements taking place in DHL, numerous innovations and changes to process have been developed including AR glasses that have improved warehouse picking efficiency by 25%, robotics applications and a drone delivery project. Since launching the project, DHL’s entire approach to service development has become much more transparent, collaborative and customer-centric, and as a result more efficient, innovative and successful.

dhl advertisement

Starbucks: Crowdsourcing idea generation

The US coffee company Starbucks has been co-creating for nearly ten years now. With the tagline ‘Share. Vote. Discuss. See.’, My Starbucks Idea has crowdsourced over 190,000 product, service and in-store innovations since 2008 – with almost 300 being implemented by the brand. Without My Starbucks Idea, we wouldn’t have Cake Pops, Hazelnut Macchiato, and free Wi-Fi, to name but a few innovations generated by the initiative.

budweiser advertisement

GE: Co-creation for open innovation

Electrics company GE has launched its own open innovation platform called Fuse, in order to source ideas and co-create innovations in direct collaboration with not just its customers, but with other start-ups. Through the Fuse project, anybody can sign up to join a community of engineers, coders or developers and take part in incentivised challenges that drive idea generation and innovation. GE are pioneers of open innovation and a new approach to company culture that is much more about collaboration and transparency. Through Fuse they will often share information about the internal workings of their products with outside communities, but their ethos of co-creation prevents them from being nervous about this – preferring to see the positive side of enhanced innovation through the power of the community.

general electrics advertisement

LEGO: Customers at the heart of a brand

In recent years, co-creation has been a big part of the success of Danish toy company LEGO, with its IDEAS community that allows customers to co-create new designs. The website was set up for LEGO enthusiasts who can both create, vote and give feedback on new projects – with projects that receive over 10,000 votes going into a review phase by senior LEGO employees. If the product is approved, the creator will receive 1% of the net sales of that product.

Consumer insights are now a core part of a LEGO strategy that enables staff to make consumer-led decisions. The LEGO Friends play set was designed through the process of co-creation, and came from the insight that young girls prefer designs with bright colours and environments that have emotional connection. The company conducted 13 research studies over a four-year period, which involved their target market creating new products in collaboration with designers. The insight lead to one of the biggest commercial successes in LEGO history, with a new product range that attracted new customers that they had previously not been able to connect with.

lego advertisement

Budweiser: Project 12 Beer

Budweiser’s Project 12 Beer asked consumers to vote on their favourite concoction, from 12 flavours created by the brand’s team of in-house brewmasters, at numerous in-person local events such as music festivals – with brewmasters being on-hand to receive direct feedback from consumers. More than 25,000 consumers gave their opinions and the drink that garnered the most favourable attention was a golden amber lager called Black Crown. Such was the success of the project that Budweiser launched Project 12 again the following year, with beer flavours being designed and launched in collaboration with customers.

starbucks advertisement

Giffgaff: A brand built on collaboration

Giffgaff began with transparency, democracy and co-creation at its core. Allowing its customers to participate in both a proprietor network forum and a broader social media strategy to provide feedback on product features and support, it’s a brand that’s effectively run by its audience – with customer ideas leading directly to new product development and innovation, and the customer community even dictating pricing structures. The product and service development process not only includes customers, but rewards them for their contribution.

Gifgaf advertisement

Jameson: First Shot film competition

While Jameson’s First Shot isn’t a direct example of co-creation, it does show a brand that empowers communities to create content. Now in its sixth year, the First Shot competition asks film makers to take part in a short film contest, with the support of the brand – with winners getting the chance to work with professional Hollywood film crews and actors, and access to wider opportunities within the industry. The competition generates a wealth of user-generated content that is forever linked to Jameson and a great PR story around a brand that supports creative communities.

jameson first

Talking co-creation, with futurist Peter Firth

Peter Firth

Peter Firth is a consumer trends editor and brand consultant who has worked for the likes of M&S, Estee Lauder, Microsoft and Harrods. A regular commentator on television and in the national media, he has appeared on the BBC World Service, Bloomberg TV and in the pages of the Sunday Times Style, City AM and The Guardian.

On the rise of co-creation…
“Co-creation is already becoming the ‘norm’. A marketing manager is unlikely to understand as much about his or her audience as the audience themselves. Inviting members of a specific movement, social group or target audience in to work with the brand will always yield good results if the brand is willing to listen, and is coming from a place of integrity. If it is done well, there is no doubt that it closes the gap between the brand and the customer.”

Influencer

On working with influencers…
“Brands are co-opting the talents, reach and influence of their audience in order to speak more appropriately to those that they want to connect with and sell to. I think that we are seeing this come to the fore significantly in brands that engage with the youth and Gen Z segments. A lot of work has been done in recent years of course with ‘influencer’ marketing. There are also compelling stories that brands can tell if they have been able to give a young struggling creative a leg up or more profile in a specific industry.”

On connecting to millennials…
“In today’s pious millennial collective consciousness we all like to think we are doing things for the cause, the spirit, the passion, rather than the money or status. Therefore you are dealing with people who don’t view themselves as consumers. They like to think of themselves as participants rather than recipients.”

unilever-beyonce

On the power of peer-to-peer marketing…
“Who are people more likely to listen to: Unilever or Beyonce? People believe in other people more than they do in companies. If you look at how customer complaints are almost totally played out online and in the pubic sphere now through Twitter etc, the power balance is shifting in favour of consumers, as their voices are louder and more networked.”

“A marketing manager is unlikely to understand as
much about his or her audience as the audience themselves.”

Democratising content: How to increase brand engagement by 28%

Photo related with User generated content

Bombarded by marketing messages, social media advertising and branded content, millennials and gen Z have become all but immune to the clamoring voices of brands that simply fail to genuinely connect. This generation doesn’t look to the same agency-created content that previous generations did. When making purchasing decisions, they instead turn to online individuals: consumers, reviewers, friends and strangers, consistently shunning the traditional outlets of advertising. What this generation is paying far closer attention to and values far more highly is user-generated content (UGC).

It should come as no surprise that millennials spend a substantial amount of their time online, with estimates suggesting nearly 22 hours per week. Of that total, about 30% of it is spent consuming UGC, meaning millennials are constantly surrounded by content that’s created directly by their peers – and they put an incredible amount of trust in it. In fact, millennials report UGC being 35% more memorable and 50% more trusted than other forms of media. For millennials, UGC is substantially more authentic than other information they may find on the internet and is a stronger indicator of the quality of a brand and its products. They have no interest in seeing ad after ad cluttering their newsfeeds; they want to see what their friends have posted and shared. In short, this is a generation that’s far more interested in what their peers have to say about a brand than the brands themselves.

Now, while this lack of trust and tendency to shut out ads may make brands feel as though they’re unable to connect, it simply means that the approach needs to be different. Rather than relying on disruptive and, often, unwanted ads that don’t just fail to gain traction but are pointedly shut out with ad blockers, brands should be attempting to get the consumers to participate in the brand and share authentic experiences in the form of creative, effective and authentic user-generated content that resonates with young audiences. A case in point is Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign which was trailblazing in its simplicity: pulling consumers into the brand by putting names on its iconic bottles and encouraging consumers to share their experiences and enjoyment with the bottles on Twitter and other social media platforms. The campaign garnered 998 million Twitter impressions and 235,000 tweets.

Increasingly, smart brands are using user-generated content to drive authenticity, meaning and resonance with their audiences. These brands are swapping direct control control for the ability to discover the conversations that really matter for their audiences, as well as the types of content that resonate. They can invite their customers to participate in and share their brand story, and in doing so, can develop a positive, more democratic and more forward-thinking image.

In April 2014, Starbucks also entered the UGC field when it launched the White Cup Contest. Encouraging customers to doodle on their cups and submit photos of their drawings, with the winning cup’s design later being released on limited edition Starbucks cups, the campaign generated 4,000 entries in just three weeks, and substantial buzz around the Starbucks brand.

UGC Toolkit

For brands and organisations, it is an inescapable fact that young audiences connect with user-generated content far more than they do traditional marketing messages, and if they want to properly connect to this burgeoning market, they’re going to have to learn how to capitalize on UGC to truly reach them. Read of our toolkit onto how to best use user-generated content in order to optimise its benefits and connect to millennials and generation Z.

  1. Identify your social spaces: there are a number of different social media platforms that work in different ways and house different audiences, so it’s important to select the ones that are right for your brand.
  2. Explain to your audience what you want: make sure to be very clear, succinct, and simple in what you’re looking for in order engage as many people as possible. UGC campaigns must be universal and accessible and not alienate people by asking too much of them, either creatively or intellectually.
  3. Leave space for audience to work: once you have related your goal to your audience, it’s critical to allow them their creative independence. Briefs should be broad and open to multiple formats.
  4. Provide recognition: whether it be with physical prizes and incentives or simple acknowledgments and accolades, praising and rewarding the audience is essential.
  5. Measure results: analyze your data, ensuring that your campaign was in line with your goals, establishing clear learnings and actions on how you may improve for your next campaign.

Digital trends: Targeting British teens through mobile

Earlier this month the OECD released a report that says British young people are the third highest users of digital content in the world. My first thought was: ‘only third?’ The UK is behind Chile (which doesn’t have the broadband penetration of the UK) and Sweden (mono-cultural society with a total population smaller than London).

“One in three British fifteen-year-olds  

spends more than six hours per day online.”

At Latimer we run workshops and research with young people all over the world, exploring youth culture and creativity. Naturally, that conversation always includes digital behaviours, social networking and media consumption and we try to work with creatives and influencers at the leading edge of innovation. Based on nothing but my experience, I would argue that urban British teens are the most sophisticated users of digital media in the world. I had put this down to a variety of things: cultural diversity; the British comfort with e-commerce; increasing levels of creative technical knowledge… But the most persuasive argument now is that they have the most practice.

One in three British fifteen-year-olds spends more than six hours per day online. Six hours per day! By the age of 19 those users have the requisite 10,000 hours to be world-class experts in digital culture. Why does this matter? If you want to understand where digital behaviours around the world are headed, to design new products or release new features, you need to understand what urban British teens are doing right now. This is a demographic that shares a language with America, strong Afro-Caribbean and South Asian influences and a wry European sensibility, but most importantly, they put in the hours. Crack this market. Crack the world. 

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