The power of the (right) crowd

Your community’s winning formula: involving the right people for the right task.

High five between white man and white woman
High five between white man and white woman

Angie Deceuninck

11 May 2023

4 min read


Communities come in all shapes and sizes. What unites them is that they allow you to connect and collaborate with the people that matter to your brand, which may be different depending on your business challenge. This is where our layered community approach comes in, with engaged consumers at the core, a crowd of everyday people in the second layer and edgy changemakers as extensions in the third layer. It’s about connecting you with the right people for the right task at the right time.


Layered community approach


The core: engaged consumers

It all starts with them. At the core of our community philosophy is an intimate group of interesting and interested consumers. From people that are eager to share their experiences around a topic or category, to heavy users or even leading-edge consumers that are very passionate about the topic and can articulate what’s new and next. They’re our go-to audience when we want to immerse in their world, identify hidden truths and optimize solutions.

Take the example of Nike Hong Kong. To understand the impact of the local sneaker culture we engaged with a mix of fashionistas and sneakerheads over a period of three weeks. Using a mix of different activities – from sharing their outfit of the day, showing their shoe collection to talking about their favourite influencers – allowed Nike to understand who they are and want to be. Ultimately fuelling the brand with relevant insights to reignite the local sneaker culture.


The crowd: everyday people

Involve your critical mass. We extend to everyday consumers when we want to understand the breadth and depth of a certain topic. Everyday consumers can share their frictions, needs and aspirations around experiences with your brand or category. While they might not be able to envision how they want their needs fulfilled, they can vocalize what they do or don’t like when they engage with a product or service and help uncover brand opportunities.

For South-African bank, Nedbank, we collaborated with everyday consumers to develop a new segmentation model. During a one-week online consumer community, we immersed the Nedbank team in their customers’ broader-lifestyle needs and wants. This resulted in a long list of needs that the research team took further in a quantitative study. Three segments emerged: The Herders, The Caregivers, and The Hunters. Today, this needs-based segmentation has become Nedbank’s de-facto model to categorise new customers, informing its product ideation, prototyping, and its marketing collateral.


The extensions: edgy changemakers

Infuse inspiration at the edge. Sometimes you just need that extra spark, that’s when we bring in cultural and creative changemakers. Cultural changemakers are people living at the edge of culture, and actively driving brands to change. And the creatives can think out of the box, come up with creative solutions and are able to express their ideas visually.

To inspire fresh thinking in developing ‘experiential snacking’ solutions, we teamed up with ‘the edgy 1’ for Mars Wrigley. The confectionary brand identified nine future innovation territories. By collaborating with cultural changemakers, we identified key cultural shifts and emerging trends within three of these territories. We used semiotics – ‘the study of signs and symbols’ – to generate actionable inspiration and visualized this in provocative inspiration boards. The creatives took this further by sharing out-of-the box solutions for each territory. The input from the cultural changemakers and creatives inspired Mars Wrigley in developing novel snacking solutions and fuelled its innovation pipeline for the next three to five years.


9 90 1 Framework


Uniting diversity

It’s not only about the diverse skills that different people bring to the table. We also need to be intentional about who we are talking to and make sure all voices are heard. For pharma company Mithra, for example, we invited women from different life stages, regions, and backgrounds to capture the full picture of female health. And for a beverage brand, we immersed executive leadership in the lives of low-income consumers, showing the power of our communities for putting underserved audiences in the spotlight.

The strength of an insight community comes from both the collective and the individual contributor. Each person brings a fresh perspective, unique skill and competence to the table. But it’s the synergy and combined diversity in perspectives that leads to powerful insights.

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