“Crowdsourcing is the future of innovation,” the director of purchasing for Henkel informed industry professionals at the most recent PCD event in Paris.
A direct line to essential innovation
Today’s market demands an increased pace of innovation. Barrocas observes: “products’ life-cycles are getting shorter and shorter, so markets now revolve around innovation.”
Crowdsourcing is the key to this demand for swifter innovation, as companies can “talk to a broader knowledge- and consumer-base, listen to consumer needs and target innovation” he said.
Talking to CosmesticsDesign-Europe.com, partner in venture capital firm Maveron and industry expert Jason Stoffer agreed. He notes that the process enables development teams to bypass potential market rejection long before products are launched.
"Yesterday's brands defined themselves internally. Today building a beloved brand requires fostering a two way conversation with a passionate base of core customers,” he said.
Why is innovation changing?
Millennials, born between 1982 and 1991, are keen users of online platforms both to communicate and consume.
“LS:N Global describes millennials as curators, entrepreneurs, collaborators and social shoppers,” notes industry expert Imogen Matthews.
And with the youngest, highly technically-savy generation of consumers (sometimes dubbed IGeneration) now in their teens, crowdsourcing looks set to usurp traditional market research practices.
As a cooperative process between the brand and its potential future market, the process assures consumer engagement with the product exists right from the first stage.
“Crowdfunding product development is one way to invite customers to be more deeply integrated into your brand," Stoffer told Cosmetics Design.
The industry has already seen some early crowdsourcing moves. US beauty start-up Julep has just secured the crowdfunded financial backing of its customers to launch a new nail-varnish brush.
While Julep looked to fund its project only after the brush had been developed, Barrocas believes the process has the potential to revolutionize the production process from the very start. He advises companies to “employ crowdsourcing as an outsourcing of knowhow” to consumers.