How to Unlock the Creative Power of Consumers – Online Co-creation

Innovation is a central issue in economic prosperity—that is not entirely new. Today, innovation has a firm position on every business leader’s priority list, but the capability to bring the right innovation to the market quickly is still lacking. Yochai Benkler, author of “The Wealth of Networks”, argues that the solution may lie within consumers and not within companies. Therefore, marketers and innovators need to better understand how to unlock the collective creative power in the consumers.

Asia Research had the opportunity to discuss with Mr Francois Petavy, the CEO of eYeka, a company that markets itself as being the ‘World’s biggest creative playground for brands’, about his work experience and his presentation at the upcoming first-ever global Crowdsourcing Week in Singapore.

Idea conceptWith the company’s headquarter in Paris and offices in Singapore, Brazil and UK, eYeka was named as one of the global leading contest vendors in co-creation by Forrester. Just recently, eYeka was ranked in the Top 10 in a report about the Market for Open Innovation by the Technology and Innovation Management Group at the RWTH University in Aachen, Germany.

During his presentation ‘Do it with them, not for them: accelerating innovation and marketing through crowdsourcing’, Mr Petavy will share local case studies as proof to “convince those remaining brands that are already left behind that co-creation is now the new norm for marketers”.

According to Mr Petavy, the concept of crowdsourcing is no longer relegated to the United States and Europe; but rather, it has gone mainstream and is evident in Asia and Latin America as well.

Setting its sights on Asia as the upcoming market with the potential to lead the West, Mr Petavy told Asia Research that with the innovations that are emerging out of Asia, “the West no longer has a monopoly on ideas, and markets that were traditionally followers no longer have excuses not to innovate”.

Sharing his thoughts on the shift in the source(s) of innovation, Mr Petavy said: “There is a growing trend for global brands to localise their innovation capabilities, putting decision-makers and innovators closer to people whose tastes now matter most; and today these are local consumers across Asia and Latin America. This is why eYeka operates in Singapore and in Brazil, to be closer to our consumers-innovators”.

Mr Petavy also cited examples in which the innovations or marketing of the product originated in the East and was exported to the West. Such examples includes the “quintessentially French brand Hermes creating a Chinese luxury brand, Shang Xia with the long-term view to export it back to the West” and also that of Kraft, which has “changed the taste, the colour and the shape of its Oreo cookies to suit Chinese palates and now export this new generation of cookies, designed in China, to the West”.

Read on to find out more about what Mr Petavy shared with us in this interview:

PetavyCan you share with us an Asian success story of how online co-creation has helped solve a traditional marketing challenge? And what role did eYeka play in this? 

Milo is a chocolate malt drink that has, over the years, become part of local culture in Singapore. Milo was facing increased competitive pressure and was looking to reinforce its bond with consumers as a brand people grew up with and still enjoy today. Nestlé Singapore and its agency Mindshare devised a campaign titled “Me & My Milo”, calling for consumers to share their personal Milo stories. We then asked our community of creators to share what Milo meant to them through a 30 seconds video/animation and a print ad. In four weeks, our community provided 38 prints and videos where to buy tetracycline from 15 countries.

The winning video was from Singapore; it shows a young woman who is going to study abroad, with her family gathering at Changi Airport to bid her farewell. She reminisces about the good time with her family, sharing Milo at a coffee shop, and before boarding, finds out that her mum has packed some packets of Milo for her to take away as it may not be available abroad. This video was screened in cinemas, aired on national TV, amplified online and through out-of-home media. It was a very touching entry that struck an emotional chord with consumers resulting in over 500,000 views online in under a month at a click-through rate of 5.01%, which is 3 times the industry average. The “Me & My Milo” campaign was awarded a MARKies Award in the “Best Idea Social” category. During the campaign period, Milo’s market share increased 1.8% versus past period last year.

Can you share with us how online co-creation has helped an Asian company in their new product development? Moreover, what about online co-creation in service innovations? Can you give us an Asian example?

Over the last few years, we have helped numerous Asian brands better their communication, products or services through co-creation, ranging from working with Lenovo on how to communicate the 4 modes of its Yoga tablet in a single picture, to convincing Europeans to use soy sauce as a daily seasoning, even for “western food”, for Kikkoman. We’ve also helped inventing a new generation of health supplements to help students perform better during exams for Cerebos, and inventing the next generation of credit cards for HSBC. We consistently find a high level of creativity and imagination amongst the Asian members of our community, and our community is very enthusiastic about focusing its creative energy to help local brands succeed.

As Singapore is quickly developing into a hub for innovation, how do you see this development, especially as a company with an office in Singapore?

Within Asia, Singapore has always been a hub for the best practices in marketing and innovation and this was one of the reasons why we set-up our first Asian presence there. The government’s efforts to consolidate Singapore’s leading edge are commendable, but we do see that neighbouring countries are quickly catching up and are establishing themselves as viable alternatives. Singapore will need to constantly challenge itself if it wants to maintain its leadership position.

There is often the view the East is following the West. As a company with offices in the East and West, where do you see opportunities, that this time the West could follow the East?

Francois Petavy: There is a growing trend for global brands to localise their innovation capabilities, putting decision-makers and innovators closer to people whose taste now matter most; and today these are local consumers across Asia and Latin America. This is why eYeka operates in Singapore and Brazil, to be closer to our consumers-innovators. We have seen countless innovations in product, or marketing originating in the East before being exported to the West. The most telling examples are of quintessentially French brand Hermes creating a Chinese luxury brand, Shang Xia with the long-term view to export it back to the West or that of Kraft who changed the taste, the colour and the shape of its Oreo cookies to suit Chinese palates and now export this new generation of cookies, designed in China to the West. In short, the West no longer has a monopoly on ideas and markets that were traditionally followers no longer have excuses not to innovate.