User Based Innovation

from the taking-marketing-one-step-further dept

While many people think of marketing as the process by which you convince someone to buy something, traditionally, it's really supposed to be about figuring out what the customer wants, and then providing it for them. However, perhaps that definition needs to be updated. As Future Now points out, the Economist is running an article about how many companies are letting their customers do the innovating themselves. It's sort of an outgrowth of the hacker/open source/DIY mentality -- except that the company embraces it, and uses these customer-built improvements to improve the product for everyone. For example, a gaming company could take user mods and post them online for everyone, or include them in future shipments of the game. This goes well beyond focus groups and just asking people what they want. It even goes beyond just encouraging them to modify and improve products to their liking. It reaches the point where the company actively looks to those improvements to be offered to others. Of course, while this is catching on with some companies -- it's still pretty rare. It's likely that the opposite is still true more often -- where companies freak out whenever anyone dares to modify the product as sold. For example, it wasn't that long ago that Sony forced a site about hacking the Aibo robot dog offline, because they said it violated the DMCA. Smart companies, however, recognize that these customer-built innovations not only make their products more valuable, but they build up customer loyalty as well.
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