A report out from Cognizant has shown that companies that involve direct customer input in their innovation processes report higher satisfaction with a variety of innovation areas than those who don’t.
For companies looking to go this route, Millennials may prove a willing source of ideas. According to new survey results from Edelman Berland and Edelman 8095, 4 in 10 Millennials (aged 18-33) from around the world want brands to allow them to influence their products (co-creation). In fact, this is the leading way in which Millennials want to be engaged by companies.
Overall, the 4,000 Millennials from 11 global markets show a strong desire to be engaged by brands, with 8 in 10 expressing this wish. Beyond co-creation, other ways in which they want companies to engage them include by answering their questions and comments in real time via social media (33%), by sponsoring events (32%), and by creating online content such as videos, and blogs (31%). Interestingly, celebrity culture doesn’t appeal quite as much: only 19% want companies to partner with a celebrity or public figure.
Presumably, Millennials want brand advertising to be entertaining, too, and it seems that brands have done well in this regard. Just 3% of the respondents believe all advertising is boring. As the report suggests, “Millennials are surprisingly open to brand engagement and advertising, but only if brands have the right approach.” To capture their attention, Millennials point to humor, samples, and contests as being most effective, though honesty, quality, and social media also play a role.
Leveraging Millennials’ affinity for social media might be one way to satisfy their urge to influence product innovation. A study released in November by the IBM Institute for Business Value found a majority of senior executives planning to use social tools for innovation, by gathering feedback from customers (73%) and enabling customers to submit plans and solutions (68%). Social media seems a particularly useful channel for this endeavor: other research has found that more than two-thirds of social media users from around the world would be happy to collaborate with brands. Those social media users primarily displayed an interest in helping companies improve an existing product or service (64%), improve customer service (also 64%), and develop new products or services (59%).
Companies not willing to go to those lengths can also help Millennials out by allowing them to use their audiences (e.g., Facebook pages, ads) to connect with others with similar interests and ideas, and by allowing them to use those audiences to share their messages and stories with a wide group may find they doing this with another company.