If you’ve never heard of “co-creation” before, the term may sound biblical or, at the very least, epic. In the field of qualitative research, co-creation describes a process in which companies and consumers work together to jointly create a concept or product idea.
With the accelerated need for new and innovative ideas, companies are becoming increasingly interested in conducting co-creation sessions. Finding the right consumer participants is a key to the process. They must be both consumers of a given category or brand, and demonstrate an open mind and creative aptitude.
Kids and Co-Creation
So, where do you find a strain of consumers who possess positive and creative problem-solving skills? Having designed and led co-creations for years, I can honestly say the best pool of candidates for the job represent a larger share of the population than you might guess. That’s right—kids!
Kids are inherently open-minded and creative. They are comfortable with process-oriented activities that don’t always have a clear and identified outcome. On the whole, adults tend to see matters in black and white and feel less comfortable conducting tasks that feel ambiguous. Kids, on the other hand, feel perfectly comfortable working in the “gray,” which makes them ideal co-creation participants.
The Co-Creation Process
From an outside perspective, a co-creation session looks like a cross be- tween a science fair and a school carnival. Several stations are typically set up with prototype materials of varying sizes, shapes, and textures. There’s even an artist, called a “Rapid Viz” illustrator, on hand to instantly bring ideas to life on paper.
Co-creations are usually conducted over one or two days, with each session lasting about two to three hours. Co-creation sessions are most often held in a large, open room providing plenty of space for creativity and movement. During a co-creation, consumers and team members are given a briefing on the co-creation process, assigned to teams, and then led through a series of fun and experiential activities. This process ultimately leads to the immediate brainstorming of new or improved concepts.
A significant amount of design and planning goes into every co-creation process. As facilitators, we take great care to design and develop the curriculum and stimulus that helps fuel a co-creation session. There is a science to briefing and pairing client team members with consumers. This protocol is especially important when facilitating co-creation with young consumers.
While the elements of each session are unique, the process is consistent and the output is clear. At the end of a co-creation session, a company can expect to have dozens of new concepts to take into the next stage of product development.
With co-creation, you can expect the unexpected. I have witnessed kids light up with excitement when they are introduced to the brand manager behind their favorite video game. I have also seen the most cynical product designers be blown away by a kid’s idea for a solar-powered toy. The unique collaboration of company, consumer, creator, and fan, is, indeed, epic.