Typically, consumers are at the end of the product chain. They’re the recipients of ideas dreamed up, built and sold by someone else. That’s how the market works. Supply and demand and all that jazz. Right?
In the Age of Now, what we are seeing is that passive consumerism is rapidly evolving into aggressive consumer-driven innovation. People are on the front foot. If they believe they can improve something, they’re not waiting to see if its creators or brand owners will do it. They’re modifying the product themselves. People are less willing to accept products that don’t work for them. Welcome to participatory consumption.
For business, there’s always an opportunity if you can learn to recognize one. The momentum of consumer participation is not going to slow down. People will continue to adapt products to their personal needs. They’re going to tinker with them. We’ve been doing it forever anyway. Most men will have created a new tool out of existing ones in the shed to do a job, or have shaped sporting equipment to suit their style. But they don’t market their triumphs. They just use them.
With a bit of research and encouragement, businesses can embrace the brain power of their existing consumers by understanding how they’re using their product, and how they’re changing it to suit a specific need. More uses, more users, better product, better sales. Consumer-drive innovation isn’t a threat. It’s creativity on tap. Embrace it.