At the Pebble Beach, Calif. Concours D’Elegance Ford Motor’s Lincoln brand introduced a new tool “Virtual Voice of the Customer” to test design concepts on consumers. Lincoln asked attendees of the classic car show Aug. 20-21 to look at three design concepts based on vehicles from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

Lincoln is using crowdsourcing by letting others decide what design features should go on their next car by using 360 brandmachine’s software platform (Virtual Voice of the Customer). When designing a new car, Lincoln will offer different choices, the crowd chooses and Lincoln gets feedback.

Crowdsourcing process

The crowdsourcing was enabled via an iPad application. Attendees at the show could click on the designs to give them a sportier look or change it from retro to modern, according to MediaPost. These preferences, together with demographic data, were gathered to understand how different target audiences feel about different designs.

Post-event, a select group of participants will be invited to continue the discussion on an online panel to gather more feedback.

Jim Peters, Lincoln experiential manager said that the results of the panel will be made public at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Lincoln is also considering using the “Virtual Voice of the Customer” process at future auto shows.

Crowdsourcing results

Lincoln’s use of this technology is to start a dialogue with prospective customers within a marketing initiative. The feedback given was acquired in a cost-effective and experiential manner.

Besides the cost-effectiveness, it can also enable increase the speed of design and ultimately the production by incorporating what is feedbacked by the crowd.

This is in line with what Translogic reports about this experiment:

Not every car design flies with the public. Designers today have an ever increasing challenge to design a car to be different, but not too different. And the rapid speed that car models are being envisioned certainly adds to the stress. But that doesn’t mean the industry can’t change; in fact, they have, they are, and what they are doing now is surprising.

Co-creation’s added value: Beyond crowdsourcing

It’s an interesting step forward by Lincoln, to fully benefit from external stakeholders the next step will be co-creation, where Lincoln (and brands in general) can co-create by  incorporating a smaller group of people in the entire product development process.

Next to this collaborative aspect (instead of cooperative crowdsourcing), co-creation enables the organization to focus on needed inputs per phase of the process. I.e. using “creative customers” for the ideation phase, stress-testing by critical customers and so on. This will benefit efficiency and effectiveness throughout the entire development.

Co-creation enable greater speed-to-market, increased output-to-market and lower cost-to-market because it has a highly targeted buzz that is being generated throughout the process.

In a time where product life cycles shorten, are more impetuous and society is more demanding, co-creation is a means to reconfigure and thrive on those challenges, and gaining competitive advantages in marketing, product- and service innovation.

By Gianluigi Cuccureddu

About the author:

Gianluigi CuccuredduGianluigi Cuccureddu, contributing editor, is an experienced writer specializing in innovation, open business, new media and marketing. He is also Managing Partner of the 90:10 Group, a global Open Business consultancy, which helps clients open their activity directly and indirectly to external stakeholders through the use of social media, its data and technologies for the purpose of competitive advantages in marketing, service- and product innovation.