What brands like Burberry are learning through co-creation with customers

Former services standards executive from Burberry and now consultant on retail customer experiences shares how brands can tap into social media and customers to innovate

Francesa Danzi
Francesa Danzi

Shoppers around the world often look to fashion houses to set the latest trends. But even the most iconic of luxury fashion designers can learn a thing or two from its customers thanks to social media and co-creation.

For London-based luxury brand, Burberry, the journey to integrating customer concepts into its products began in 2009 with a simple online campaign called Art of the Trench. This called on customers to upload images of themselves wearing Burberry’s famous garment.

The campaign garnered more than 400,000 uploaded images in its first week, from fans in 191 countries, from a campaign based purely around public relations and word-of-mouth marketing including the fashion blog site, The Sartorialist. After nine months, more than 9 million visitors had come to the site.

Francesca Danzi was the global service standards manager for Burberry at that time. She pointed out that 2009 was a long time before the current ‘selfie’ trend had taken off. Speaking at the Customer Experience Tech Fest in Melbourne, she said the campaign enabled customers and fans to participate at two levels.

“Existing customers could upload their pictures, and aspiring customers could vote, like, share and start conversations with people that had uploaded pictures,” Danzi said.

“The designers at Burberry took a lot of inspiration from the styling of these people around the world. They started to see trends and ways of wearing this garment across cultures, and across the world, and started to give inspiration and create opportunities for designers internally.”

That lead to Burberry Bespoke, a service that allowed customers to design and order garments online. It also kickstarted Burberry’s social media activity. Burberry remains the most popular luxury fashion brand on Facebook, with more than 16 million fans.

Danzi went on to hold a number of roles with Burberry until leaving in late 2014 to start her own retail customer experience consultancy.

She said her experience at Burberry demonstrated the power of co-creation and sharing as a means of delivering value and profit by allowing customer participation, and balancing the producer’s desire for mass production against the consumer’s desire for something that is very, very personalised.

“Co-creation is right at the centre,” Danzi said. “It is industry-led, but has the customers at the core, and they can really participate. In a way customers and brands are at the same level.”

For Danzi, one of the most interesting examples of co-creation and the sharing economy happening today is Made.com, a furniture retailer that allows customers to vote on the designs that they want to see manufactured.

Because the company only has a limited showroom presence in the UK, it has created a service called Made Unboxed, where customers upload pictures of Made furniture within their own homes or workspaces. They can also nominate to allow would-be buyers to visit their homes to see and feel the products for themselves.

“They are testing it in the UK and it is working,” Danzi said. “It works because customers want to be inspired by not only the product itself, but by the way the product is put in a context.

“People are used to sharing, and their houses function as showrooms for the product. It is creating a crowdsourced customer service base.”

Danzi said Made is now considering an incentive scheme to further reward those customers who effectively become its representatives.

“When this happens it means the link between the customer has gone well beyond functionality and brand,” she said. “It is deeper, and it helps people to express themselves in a creative way and really participate with their own tastes, with their own knowhow, and with their own style, into the life of a brand.”

More on how brands are co-creating with customers

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

People in vegan houses shouldn't throw bacon

Picture this. You’re at a Gourmerican burger joint chomping a cheeseburger, when an outspoken vegan friend starts preaching that you’re killing the planet. Last week, that same vegan downed a pricey glass of pinot before their flight to a far-flung destination, armed with their strongest mossie repellant and first aid kit. Anything amiss?

Abbie Love

Strategist, Ikon Communications

The role of the CMO is evolving: Are you keeping up?

My (amazing) vacation in the Galapagos Islands earlier in the year got me thinking about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. What does this have to do with the role of today’s CMO, you ask? Plenty.

Sheryl Pattek

Vice-president, executive partner

Getting your business ready for the Entrepreneurial Consumer

We all know the digital revolution has completely transformed the way consumers are interacting with brands, and that a lot of businesses are finding it hard to catch up. One way to closing this brand gap is to understand consumer behaviour and build a brand experience that meets these new needs.

Pip Stocks

CEO and founder, BrandHook


Kerry Edwards

Open Colleges taps into social for better student interaction

Read more

Or just go to sites like www.shopsthatshiptoaustralia.c... and others and be sure that the stores will send to where you live :-)


Why online shopping is like dating – RedBalloon CEO

Read more

Personalisation is the key. Customers demand a very relatable and well defined CX where the sincerity and understanding of their disposit...

Hitesh Parekh

In pictures: Improving cutomer experiences through smart personalisation

Read more

Thanks for this. The key for me is the effective of governance where it dictates and sets the proactive policy when it comes to CX. Tech ...

Hitesh Parekh

6 lessons in modern marketing from a customer experience chief

Read more

Very well said “With today’s consumers more demanding of the brands and merchants they shop, it’s imperative for merchants to not just co...


CMO's top 10 martech stories for this week - 29 September

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in