LONDON: Major advertisers like Dell, New Look and Unilever are increasing their emphasis on co-creation as part of the innovation process.

Unilever, the FMCG manufacturer, employed this approach when developing a new variant of Lynx deodorant, and will release further such fragrances in 2011 and 2012.

"For us it's important to find out how we can best get consumers involved right at the start," Philippa Rose, Unilever's global consumer marketing insights manager, told New Media Age.

"It'll get used more because we like to think we're an innovative brand. Co-creation will be included in all our research plans and innovation efforts so that we include the consumer."

New Look rolled out a branded online community in 2008, enabling its most regular shoppers to formally have an input about the company's products and strategy.

The high-street fashion chain has now tied this platform to a loyalty programme, New Look Fashion Rewards, with the goal of stimulating advocacy and heightening members' activity.

"This is part of a trend that's happening anyway as consumers are more empowered than ever,” said Oliver Lucas, New Look's head of insight and CRM.

"It's to brands' advantage to treat them on a level playing field and then use the tools to utilise their views."

"We're running a trial for the loyalty card and the site which has been really good in terms of people engaging in the community. But you have to reward them because they're the loyal of the loyal."

Dell, the IT giant, similarly unveiled IdeaStorm in 2007, allowing netizens to provide feedback and ideas, generating 14,000 suggestions receiving 700,000 votes, while 4,000 schemes have been adopted so far.

"IdeaStorm is a continued focus for Dell and it's evolving," said Kerry Bridge,  IdeaStorm's head of digital media communications EMEA and global public sector.

"Any new product has a really warm reception from customers because they've helped launch it."

Telecoms group Nokia also recently worked on a co-creation research programme with specialist agency Face.

This project should yield several benefits, according to Tom Crawford, Nokia's director of consumer research and insight.

"It introduces a new way of listening and interacting with consumers by treating them as partners rather than just respondents, and engaging them in the process from beginning to end," he said.

Face has previously aided Unilever and Boots chemists on a similar initiative through a bespoke property, Mindbubble, constructed for these firms.

"We find the more brands invest in co-creation the less their marketing spend has to be because the product launched is already more relevant," said Francesco D'Orazio, Face's research director and head of social media.

Data sourced from New Media Age; additional content by Warc staff