Co-Creation as a Research Method

28.10.2019

Finstart Nordic is currently exploring Generation Z and their relation to money. To learn more we moved an entire 9th grade from their regular classroom and into our office space for a full day co-creative workshop.

Inviting chaos into our office?

One might ask if this wasn’t just inviting chaos and teenage energy into our usually quiet office space? And yes – it was. Our office has never before been as energetic and loud. However, we did this with a defined purpose – to learn what teenagers would value in a mobile banking app tailored to their needs.

This method of working and learning from your desired customers is often referred to as co-creation. Co-creation can be described as the collaborative development of new value together with experts and stakeholders. The value can be defined as a concept, solution, product or service. In short, co-creation is a form of collaborative innovation where brands and consumers work together to create better ideas, products and services. 

Tapping into the collective insight of your desired targeted audience can bring innovation and innovative ideas faster and in a more cost-effective manner to your company. This is because it has an increased innovation capacity and velocity while simultaneously reducing the innovation risk. If successful, you will get an increased flow of quality ideas and concepts into your pipeline and accelerate the time it takes to get new products and services to market. 

So, how did it go bringing thirty 14 year-olds to a co-creation?

As a big part of co-creation is to have a healthy ‘bottom-up’ approach to innovation, we gave them the task of creating their own app that they would want to use themselves without showing them any of our prior work. When conducting a co-creation workshop it is vital to let the participants think independently and not be influenced by the work you have already done. 

The teams took the task very seriously, and the results were very impressive – each team had produced an app with innovative and remarkable features ranging from predictive budgeting, saving challenges and making it possible to earn different kinds of credits. Based on these results, the Finstart Lab had to admit that some of the hypotheses we had about teens and money prior to the co-creation workshop were weakened, while other hypotheses were strengthened. In addition, this workshop gave us a broader understanding of the customer journey teens have when it comes to money.

Head of the Finstart Lab, Cathrine Movold, stated after the co-creation workshop that she was extremely surprised by the results.

“The teens had a much broader insight into their finances than I had assumed. I realised that they, in fact, do know the value of money, the only difference is that they place value in different products and services than the older generations”

Cathrine Movold

“This was so much fun! Now I want to become a designer when I grow up”
– participant

When inviting stakeholders to a co-creation workshop you will always run the risk of exposing “company secrets” to the public. But, on the other hand, the outcome of a co-creation can provide positive influences on brand experiences leading to an increase in brand satisfaction, loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing within the desired audience. 

Another way to view co-creation is as an early-stage partnership with strategic customers. Co-creation allows you to enter the subconscious thoughts and creative power of your desired audience. These thoughts are something an interview/ focus group situation normally wouldn’t bring forward and can complement your regular research immensely. Co-creation is especially fruitful if you are not in the targeted audience yourself as it allows you to “walk a mile in their shoes” for a short while.

Even Lego does it

Co-creation as a practice gained recognition in 2004 from authors C.K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy in their book ‘The future of competition”. In this book, they argue that value is increasingly created through an open dialogue between the company and its customers. 

One company that has fully embraced this method is Lego. To co-create with its customers Lego has built a platform where the users can discover and create own user-generated design sets, and vote on the best ones. If a set receives 10.000 or more votes Lego will review it and choose its favourites to sell world-wide. 

Should you try co-creation?

If your company plans to launch new products and service concepts or want to gain insight and ideas on brand development and promotional strategies you could potentially have a lot to gain from trying a co-creation with your stakeholders. 

Based on the results of our workshop, we have identified plenty of new potential areas where an economic service can offer value for teens. And the best thing is that we don’t have to make guesses – we have learned what they need alongside them. So after a few quiet days to recover, we are now planning a second workshop with our co-creators.

About the author

Heidi is the Marketing Coordinator at Finstart Nordic where she works with content creation and marketing activities. She has previous experience from Content Marketing and holds an MA in PR & Communication from Swansea University.