Let me start with a question: Who drives the design process of a product?
Most of you will be more likely to choose this answer: Research and Development unit.
Now, I invite you to think deeper as well as imagining the future. Is it completely true that product designer just made all of their product out of nothing? The smart and bright people who designed the product must have used a variety of possible methods to build the idea of a product. This ranges from sophisticated research method to the simplest imaginative and random decision we can ever imagine.
However, no matter which methods they used in designing the product, they have something in common. That commonality is the vision that the product will be acceptable and people will consume or buy or use it.
Here’s another note: The consumer are getting smarter. Well, maybe not all of them, not yet. But, the age of consumerism has teach them to be smarter about their demand. At first, we need to understand consumer needs, Then, we have to learn about their personality and emotional affinity, since we found out that people are not always consume based on their needs. Consumption, is about want. As we mover further, we realize that what people want is a very dynamic concept. Now, we learn that consumer has becoming more and more difficult to identify and classify. Some say, there are no more loyal customer.
I think that’s because of the consumer are getting smarter.
We have witnessed many effort in increasing consumption in the last several decades. The result were higher consumption. But, it is also increase people’s awareness that as consumer, they have the power to dictate the producer. The dynamic between producer and consumer has becoming more as two-ways push and pull, and less one-way providing. The market has evolved significantly, and as consumers transform themselves into systems; we are approaching the era of collaborative marketing.
A recent discussion I had with a friend made me realize that in Indonesia, collaborative marketing is still sensational arguments, but not yet as an essential alternative framework for the future marketing strategy. Sometimes, this concept is even twisted. This is actually not surprising, considering that collaborative marketing is an application of systems thinking.
ystems thinking often times are twisted too, as many people think that it’s about thinking in systematic manner. Systems thinking is about thinking in a whole-system framework, by understanding the paradoxical relation of all components. Collaborative marketing is about engaging consumer as the driver of any production, and about managing their active involvement in the business process.
Any effort to understand collaborative marketing requires an understanding on collaborative inquiry. It is not just another model of marketing. It’s a different framework of marketing. I identified at least eight key points in collaborative marketing, which distinguish it from previous marketing framework. Values, in today’s increasingly complex society, is a more of creation than claims. Values are result of learning and negotiation, and therefore it is a dynamic state and consistently changing. The power of consumer and producer are getting even. Values are more and more resulted from a continuous and dynamic negotiation between the two.
The key ideas in collaborative marketing is engagement. Engagement is about new strategy in product development. This is the central idea of collaborative marketing. This has its own consequences. Product development process and user communities should be within a single feedback loop. This will give a continuous information and verification about how well the product will be in the market. Product development is not merely a production process, but also a continuous pitching process, which will help the product evolve along with the market evolution.
While this strategy may not come to our attention easily, the existence of user communities is more easily spotted. The increasing cumber of user communities are a central instrument of collaborative marketing strategy. Their interaction and activities generate all type of information necessary for the product’s further development. In many cases, the results can even be a almost-ready design, which high sense of belonging among the customer. The reason is simply because it’s theirs.
They are users, and they are part of the designer.