Co-Creation for Social Impact

Co-creation is not just about designing better products or services, it is also about creating positive impact in society. In this chapter, we will explore how co-creation can be used for social impact, with real examples from companies such as Coca-Cola Freestyle, LEGO Ideas, and Threadless. These companies have not only embraced co-creation in their business strategies, but also used it as a way to give back and make a difference in the world.

Coca-Cola Freestyle: Fighting Water Scarcity with Co-Creation

Coca-Cola, one of the largest beverage companies in the world, is known for its innovative products and marketing campaigns. One of their most successful co-creation projects is Coca-Cola Freestyle, a touchscreen soda fountain that allows customers to mix over 150 different drinks.

But what sets this project apart is not just its technologically advanced machines, but also its social impact. Coca-Cola partnered with The Nature Conservancy to create a special cartridge for the Freestyle machines that dispenses purified water. This initiative, called “Fill it Forward,” aims to address water scarcity in developing countries by providing clean water to communities in need.

Not only does this partnership help those in need, it also engages customers in a meaningful way. By simply scanning a QR code on the machine with their smartphones, customers can track the water project they have contributed to and see the impact their actions have made. This empowers customers and creates a sense of ownership and responsibility towards solving a global issue.

LEGO Ideas: Empowering Fans to Create Change

LEGO, a beloved toy company known for its building blocks, has also taken co-creation to heart with their LEGO Ideas platform. This platform allows fans to submit their own designs for LEGO sets, with the chance of having their creations turned into real products.

One of the notable success stories from LEGO Ideas is the Women of NASA set, which was the result of a submission by fan designer Maia Weinstock. This set celebrates the women who have made significant contributions to US space exploration and has been praised for promoting diversity and gender equality in STEM fields.

But LEGO Ideas doesn’t just give fans the opportunity to see their designs come to life, it also supports charitable causes. The company has pledged to donate 1% of the total sales of projects approved for production to charity, with the Women of NASA set supporting science and technology programs for children.

Threadless: A Community that Makes a Difference

Threadless, an online T-shirt company, has successfully built a community of creators and supporters through co-creation. The company crowdsources designs for their products, with the chosen designs being printed on T-shirts and sold on their website.

But Threadless doesn’t stop there. The company’s mission is to support artists and give back to the community, and they do so through various initiatives. One of their most notable efforts is the “Think Pink” campaign, where they collaborated with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Threadless created a special line of T-shirts designed by their community members, with 25% of the profits being donated to the foundation.

In addition, Threadless also has a program called “GIVE” where $1 from every T-shirt sold is donated to a chosen charity. This allows customers to not only purchase a unique and high-quality product, but also make a difference in the world.

Co-Creation for Social Impact: A Powerful Tool for Change

These examples from Coca-Cola Freestyle, LEGO Ideas, and Threadless show the potential of co-creation as a tool for social impact. Not only do these companies engage their customers in their business strategies, but they also give back and make a positive difference in society.

Co-creation is more than just a business trend, it is a way to build meaningful relationships with stakeholders and create a better world. As designers, it is our responsibility to use our skills for the greater good, and co-creation allows us to do just that. Let us continue to harness the power of co-creation for positive change and make a lasting impact on our society.

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