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


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. Key to success is to involve, what we label as ‘interesting’ and ‘interested’ consumers. Interested, are people that are eager to collaborate and share their experiences (we don’t learn anything from the passive participants). Interesting, on the other hand, are those relevant for your brand – and something that depends on your objective and challenge.

This is where our layered community approach comes in – a formula we call 90-9-1 and is derived from  Bradly Horowitz90-9-1 rule of participation inequality. This rule states that, out of every 100 people, 90 merely consume content, 9 will like, share or react to what is created, and only 1 will actually create something. We found that this ‘90-9-1 rule’ also exists in the communities we run. Our experience shows that the significant majority of people (around 90%) are able to share their frictions, needs and aspirations. Some 9% are extremely passionate about a topic or category. And only 1% can infuse inspiration at the edges as cultural or creative changemakers. So it’s about connecting you with the right people for the right task at the right time.


9 90 1 Framework

The core: the experienced 9

Embrace the passionate few. This intimate group of interested and interesting people are at the core of our community approach. Being specialists and enthusiastic about a particular theme or topic, these consumers are ‘experts by passion’. While they might be ‘everyday consumers’ in other contexts, they’re ahead of the game when it comes to their passion points, making them your go-to audience when you 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: the everyday 90

Involve your critical mass. What does that insight mean for your audiences? As experts by experience, 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: the edgy 1

Infuse inspiration at the edge. Sometimes you just need that extra spark, that’s when we bring in cultural and creative changemakers. The cultural changemakers are the ’shapers‘, 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 ‘shapers’ and creatives inspired Mars Wrigley in developing novel snacking solutions and fuelled its innovation pipeline for the next three to five years.

People Framework


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 create a mindful space to encourage anyone to share their opinion and making sure all voices are heard. Communities can support this need for more diversity, being accessible 24/7 from the comfort of the home or phone. They take down the barriers to connect with the people that matter for your brand.


Uniting diversity

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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