Customer creativity – how businesses tap into the power of consumer ideas and products

In this photo essay from a bicycle rally, we show how far the design of the humble bicycle has evolved with customer needs, aspirations, and creativity.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 505 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Customer co-creation and crowdsourcing for ideas have become major trends over the past few decades, particularly in the digital era. When customers themselves take to solve their problems and develop their own products, it is a wake-up call to industry players to recognise and tap new markets.

The rise of industry sectors like mountain bikes have been cited as great examples of harnessing bottom-up creativity. It was a wave of creations by home inventors that spurred major bicycle manufacturers to take notice of user innovations for improving bikes in rugged terrains.

More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic spawned a whole cottage industry of mask-makers and sanitisation add-on devices. Online citizens around the world shared practical and quirky designs of masks, which have now created a whole sector of designer masks.

See our reviews of the books Customer Innovation, The Seven Principles of Complete Co-creation, Frugal Innovation, and Machine, Platform, Crowd for insightful frameworks on partnering with customers for new products and services. Examples range from the MyStarbucks idea platform and Lego Ideas to Maker Faires and IBM Innovation Jams.

As shown in these photographs taken during a bicycle rally in Munich, the humble bicycle has come a long since its origins in 19th century Germany. (My special thanks to Lisa Schoberer for making this trip possible in the ‘BC’ era – ‘before coronavirus’.) Front- and rear-end accessories have transformed the bicycle into a utility as well as family transporter, with lots of scope for innovative designs and extensions.

From foldable bikes and backpack bikes to bamboo and cardboard bikes, there is no limit to materials and forms. Three-wheeler and even four-wheeler variations have turned the very definition of the bicycle upside down.

For more jaw-dropping and futuristic bicycle designs, check out these articles from TrendHunter, Interesting Engineering, and Designer Daily. Many European countries are at the forefront of creating bicycle-friendly cities, and momentum is picking up among Asian cities and bicycle enthusiasts as well.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai