“Style your Smart”: How a not so successful car brand learned us how to successfully generate ideas.


Five years ago, when consumer co-creation was not yet the hot topic it is today, Smart launched a very successful co-creation contest. Do you still remember Smart? The little city-cars, which eventually were not the success that the company had hoped for. In 2010 they launched a co-creation contest in which consumers could participate and make a design for the Smart car. They did not only engage their consumers in making the best design, but also engaged their consumers in a little game so they could help decide which design was the best. This approach of gamification did not only help Smart to engage more customers in this co-creation process, but also led to high quality designs and have strengthen the bond between consumers and the brand Smart.

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For companies co-creation has a lot of advantages.  Consumers create value for companies and products. Consumers express their needs, they help the company with (creative) ideas and companies can engage their consumers in deciding which product to launch next.  In February 2010, Smart launched the co-creation contest in which consumers could upload their design for the Smart car. The winner could win a monetary reward of $5000. They made an internet platform with a design tool so that even consumers with no experience in designing cars could participate. Besides that, they directly involved customers with the platform by allowing participants to comment on designs and rate different designs.  In only a few months, 10.000 members uploaded 50.000 designs to the website. There were 600.000 design evaluations and 27.000 comments.

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Smart did not only engage their consumers in designing the Smart, but they also thought: Why not let our consumers choose which design they like the most? Unfortunately, these decision-making processes are often perceived as boring by the public. Therefore Smart decided to gamify this contest. Gamification is a way to make things like an idea generating contest more appealing for the public. Games are often perceived as fun so they are a good way to get more engagement from consumers.

After the expert jury filtered out most of the designs, Smart opened the Matching game. If a participant entered the matching game he/she was connected to a different participant. When the game started they were both shown a few designs. The players were then asked to click on the design of which they thought that their co-player would consider it as the best design. If they both choose the same design, they had a Match and they received points. Despite the fact that Smart never promised any reward for the amount of points a player received, in total 2000 games have been played. This led to the following winning design:

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If we look at the statistics we can conclude that Smart launched a very successful co-creation contest which had a monetary reward of only $5000. Is the only trick they used to include gamification of the process? Or do you think that gamification is absolutely not a guarantee for succes?

References:
http://mercedes-benz-blog.blogspot.nl/2010/01/open-innovation-smart-launches-design.html
http://media.daimler.com/dcmedia/0-921-658944-1-1278743-1-0-1-0-0-0-0-0-0-1-0-0-0-0-0.html
http://www.smart-design-contest.com
http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/06/daimler-encourages-you-to-design-your-own-smart-results-vary/

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