Working With Creative Thinking Consumers

Friday, May 17, 2024

If you are looking for fresh thinking for your brand or business, working with creative thinking consumers can provide a fast and effective way to either "kick-start" an ideation process, or better still, to refine leading ideas prior to wider consumer evaluation.

This year we have run two projects involving "consumer co-creation" including a full one day workshop to refine and develop ideas for a leading European personal care brand. This blog provides a reminder of some of the things that can drive project success, including how we capture feedback and comments using our online Zip-Zap Ideas® innovation platform.

If you are short on time, check out a past project video showing creative thinking consumers at work, during a one day Consumer Innovation Lab™, together with members of a client team and our own in-house creative agents.

1. Recruiting the Right Creative Thinking Consumer

The clue is in the title.....for consumer co-creation, don't just work with a "regular consumer" but with people who are able to provide clear and concise feedback to a range of different ideas and concepts, as well as being able to think outside-the-box.  They are likely to be more articulate than your "average Joe".  From our experience, they don't have to be true consumers, but people who understand the category in question and understand the needs of the typical consumer that you are targeting.  Work with a specialist panel provider to find the people and then screen them again with questions and games to test their ability to think creatively.  For example, give them a problem and see how many ideas they can come up with.  Check out some good creative ice-breakers to see if they pass your test. 

2. Preparing Stimulus Materials in Advance

When working with creative thinking consumers, we generally don't start with a blank piece of paper.  To get the most from your creative help, provide them with some good stimulus materials that they can then build on.  On our most recent project, this involved providing consumers with a range of early insights, followed by some example concepts (see below for more details).  But the success of any creative thinking consumer session is the quality of the doesn't have to be perfect, but you do want a good range of insights and ideas that will stimulate broader thinking.  If you are short on resources, employing some external creative consultants and copy writers can provide a quick way of pulling together the right materials.

3. Refining Consumer Insights

Before getting feedback to early ideas, it might make sense to expose the creative thinking consumers to a range of insights and pain-points, including some of the "star insights" that inspired the ideas and concepts that you are planning to share.  For most projects that we run, we typically spend 2-3 weeks before any workshop session in search of insights that are linked to the agreed project objectives.  This might include revisiting “old research data” with a fresh pair of eyes, or conducting “social media listening” to capture additional insights from online blogs, community forums or competitive product reviews.  To find out more, watch this video on how to quickly identify deeper insights to drive claim generation.

4. Feedback to Early Ideas and Claims

The main objective of most co-creation sessions that we run is to get feedback and to build on early ideas, claims and concepts.  On our most recent project this exercise was split into two tasks.  In the first task, the creative thinking consumers worked individually to review around 16 early for ones that they liked but also adding their comments as to WHY they liked ideas; WHAT specific elements of the idea that was most appealing; and some initial thoughts on HOW the idea could be improved.   All feedback and early votes were captured using our online Zip-Zap Ideas® platform.

5. Building New Ideas and Concepts  

In the second main workshop task, the creative thinking consumers were asked to build and develop new ideas.  Working in pairs, this was initially achieved by building on the comments and feedback from the early insights and the early ideas from point 3 and 4 above.  However, in most co-creation sessions, we also encourage the delegates to develop new ideas using three or four different idea generation thinking techniques.  One of our favourites is to simply encourage people to think in the shoes of other famous people. Alternatively, we throw in a range of random words or images, asking the creative thinking consumers to develop new ideas based on specific words or visuals.

6. Identify The Winners and Keep on Innovating!

Finally, following the session with the creative co-creation session, we normally refine and screen 20-40 leading workshop with a larger sample of target consumers. We also recommend that, ahead of wider consumer testing, that final ideas are refined by professional copy writers using a standard format and style. On most projects, we also look to test ldeas against one or two “known benchmarks” (ideas that have tested well in previous studies or that are already doing well in the market). For more information, read a recent blog post on how to identify winning ideas and claims.

Get in touch if you have any questions or comments - we'd love to hear from you.