Anne Summers does Open Innovation

Channel 4 here in the UK screened a documentary last week about the sex toy business Anne Summers who launched a campaign to find a diverse group of women to help them come up with ideas for new products.

It was a great example of Open Innovation and co-creation process from capturing their needs, to designing products all the way through to an insight into the whole product development and  manufacturing process.

They launched 8 products (one per participant), but they found one unique idea from one of the participants which was a vibrator that expanded to.  uummhh…fill the required space. Anne Summers has an extensive range of vibrators (apparently) so this is a brilliant example of how a customer / user can describe an unmet need that the market leader hadn’t spotted for themselves. The product development manager couldn’t hide his excitement about the commercial potential for this product.

It also showed the potential downside of Open Innovation in that the woman that came up with this idea clearly found it difficult to balance the very positive experience that the process offered with the fact that, that’s all she will gain despite Anne Summers potentially making millions from her idea.

You can watch the whole program by following this link, I highly recommend it.