Millennials Drive Cocreation Marketing

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While roughly 63 percent of consumers say they still exhibit brand loyalty, the number of digital hypertaskers is growing so quickly that the two consumer groups could soon be neck and neck. According to new research from Ernst & Young, 24 percent of consumers consider themselves to be hypertaskers, meaning they love to shop around, and are doing so by constantly engaging with brands through various channels.

"Consumers aren't just checking how much an item costs online compared to in the store. They are actively engaging with brands through multiple avenues and being selective about which experiences and interactions they prefer," says Marcie Merriman, a consultant at Ernst & Young. Younger generations can be particularly selective, and catering to this group's multichannel behavior requires a new approach—cocreation marketing.

According to the report, shoppers between the ages of 15 and 29 lead the way in product and service development and are three times more likely to engage in cocreation initiatives, or campaigns that give consumers an opportunity to customize their experiences with the brand, than older generations. From sourcing user-generated content to encouraging consumers to take part in polls and surveys, a cocreation campaign can take many forms. What makes it uniquely powerful, according to Matt Gibbs, cofounder of SparkReel, a user-generated content platform, is that it builds consumers' virtual clout, a status symbol on the social Web.

"With a smartphone in every pocket, interacting with brands is easier than ever for consumers," Gibbs says. "In the past, if a brand invited a customer to record a video and share it with that brand, it would have been such a hassle. Now it couldn't be simpler. The barrier for customers to share content with brands is very low, but the opportunity for them is very high," he says.

And that opportunity doesn't even have to be as lucrative as winning a prize for submitting the best piece of content; the payoff for content submission can be as minor as being featured on a brand's social media page, getting a retweet, or earning a slew of "likes" from fellow followers. In the age of the selfie, the spotlight is the greatest reward.

A proven engagement tool, cocreation can deliver in other business areas as well. According to Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as brand feedback from other consumers, above all other forms of advertising. That trust, Gibbs says, leads to sales success. "User-generated content has been shown to boost sales effectiveness by over 20 percent," he says, citing research from comScore. "It's not just an important marketing tool. It plays a major role in sales as well."

Though cocreation is still a fairly new take on marketing, brands that have made it a priority are already reaping the rewards. Camera company GoPro puts marketing almost entirely in the hands of customers. Like its name suggests, the company's mission is to allow amateur photographers and videographers to capture professional-level content, even in the most extreme conditions.

Its camera comes equipped with a mounting mechanism that allows users to secure it onto their helmets, sports gear, or other equipment, and document their adventures, whether they're surfing, base jumping, or ostrich racing. GoPro invites customers to share their photos and videos on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, with the promise of regularly posting some of the best images and clips on its own brand page and occasionally including them in television ads as well. Last year, GoPro even used its Super Bowl ad slot to feature a customer submission.

"There's tons of content that's tagged as GoPro footage being shared every day," Gibbs says. "That's the primary way the company tells their story, and it's working."

Indeed, GoPro's share of the U.S. camcorder market grew from just 11 percent in 2012 to more than 45 percent by 2014, and revenue skyrocketed by 87 percent in 2013, totaling just under $1 billion. The company also went public in late June at $24 a share and doubled its offering price within a week. GoPro is going places, Gibbs says, and has its fresh take on marketing to thank


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