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.”


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.”


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.”

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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