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Tinkering, tailoring, soldering on

Ian McCarthy wrote an interesting piece back in February all about the Creative Consumer. It set me thinking (a lot) and now I’m ready to comment on it.

Creative consumers are those ‘individuals, or communities of individuals, who adapt or modify a proprietary product offering. They tinker and experiment with almost any product, ranging from automobiles to cell phones.’

An easier definition: my dad.

When I was growing up the garage in our house was always stuffed with every possible tool that could be used to alter anything (and usually everything) that was bought. Tinkering, tailoring, soldering – whatever it was, modification was the name of the game. Improvement the end result. It was always improvement. It was always very impressive.

As someone with a background in engineering my dad was (and still is) left completely perplexed at the inadequacies of some designs or the shortcuts that have been taken. Occasionally he’s known to write to the manufacturer themselves saying, ‘look, I’ve done this and it’s made it a better product’. But do they listen?

Ian explains that in responding to creative consumers (dad) companies have to manage 3 separate issues, one of which is ‘the firms ability to scan, track and control consumer-produced innovations’. It’s one of the functions of watchmethink. The ability to scan and track consumer produced innovations. It’s where people like dad (and dad himself, come on dad) can put videos of their improvements/innovations. Privately, to the brand. Not virally. Not negatively.

Maybe it’s what inspired me in the first place to come up with watchmethink. Definitely played its part. My stance on Creative Consumers? Appreciate them, admire them – then tell them to upload their ideas to!