News: People Power

We posted a link earlier this year about the changing face of retail, and have found some more interesting examples, this time they revolve around the concept of consumer interaction and consumer generated content. Voting, it seems is hot; we know the public love to vote (except perhaps in elections!) on TV shows, for their favourite musicians and acts, and we love this example of fashion by democracy at Modcloth where shoppers vote for their favourite designs to be put into production, taking the risk out of the buying process for retailers.

We’ve also found evidence of this in marketing as well as design, like the technology called Every1speaks developed by Kidology which allows school kids to communicate with the school heirarchy and make their opinions known through voting. Peter Hirst, Director of Kidology explains; “Kidology is a market research company that helps companies and organisations that aim what they do at young people to test thier ideas and innovations in a way that generates fun and learning within schools and amongst pupils.”

Peter explains; “Schools often find it difficult to encourage student voice when a culture of living down to peer expectation exists. Every1speaks is an informal tool that pupils can anonymously utilise to share their opinions about school and vote on ideas they think are worthwhile.  In our experience young people struggle to effectively voice their ideas as traditional forums like student councils are unrepresentative (i.e. only the ‘good kids’ take part) and speaking face-to-face with teachers is daunting.”

US based manufacturer Smart Furniture recently launched the  ‘SmartDesigner’ which enables customers to “plan, customize and purchase furniture in a way that was impossible before,” says T. J. Gentle, CEO and President of Smart Furniture. “If customers want to see how a particular chair or table will fit in their living room or office it is simple to visualize with the SmartDesigner, and if they want to find a fabric or finish that is ideal for their space, it is simple to customize the furniture to suit their preferences. For the first time, all of this can be done online, within your web browser.You can now design custom furniture, visualize it in your space, and order in minutes, all without having to deal with traffic, crowds, or aggressive salespeople. At Smart Furniture, we ask why not shop on your own terms?”

New Zealand-based Ponoko is offering consumers a new way to turn their creative ideas into real objects. After uploading their design to the website (in EPS file format), users can choose from a variety of materials. Ponoko then runs the design through a laser cutter. Besides offering access to professional tools to manufacture products, Ponoko also helps users bring their products to market.

A few of our favourite ideas from Ponoko, above.

We expect to see lots more examples of consumer directed product ranges and design on demand facilities across fashion and interiors. What can you offer to your customers to cash in on this customization trend?

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2 responses to “News: People Power

  1. Pingback: Power to the People « Ponoko – Blog

  2. Pingback: business buzz 12-24-09 « craftMBA.com – business thinking for designers & makers

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