Communities cannot be “switched on”

There are only a few brands that have successfully created a community in which they collaborate with their target audience. Communities naturally form because people feel the need to unite around a specific topic. For brands it is difficult to create an environment like this, because it is unnatural. Still, some of them have succeeded in very creative ways that add value for both sides. Here are 3 great examples that we really like:

Lego

Lego has built an online community of over 500K people who are contributing ideas for new Lego products. They can upload their ideas, and if it gets 10K supporters, it goes into review by the Lego team. Once the review board validates the idea, it gets produced and the community member receives a percentage on the sales of the product. This is creating a lot of value for Lego (bringing new Lego sets to the market, generated and validated by the community) and its fans that feel part of the team and the Lego story.

My Starbucks Idea

Then there is My Starbucks Idea, a community where anyone can suggest ideas which people can vote on. So far over 200K ideas have been posted in 3 different categories (product, experience, involvement), of which over 250 have been executed by the Starbucks team. A group of 40 Starbucks employees reviews the ideas and passes them on to the internal stakeholders. People participating in My Starbucks Idea get no financial rewards; it is all about personal recognition. People like helping their favorite brands, as they feel part of the story. Not only is it making the customers feel more involved, Starbucks is bringing innovation ‘outside-in’ this way.

My Open Kitchen

Solo’s My Open Kitchen is a community in Belgium in which people can post their own recipes. So far almost 20K of them have been entered, with over 30K ratings and 14K comments. Solo isn’t putting the focus on their product, but on what the people are interested in. This way they still advertise indirectly and get great insights in trends and the opinions of their clients.

What about you?

Does your company have its own community? Is it adding value for both sides? And if you don’t have one, how could you play a role in this in your market? What could you facilitate and are you willing to invest into it?

Brand communities

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