Co-Creating with Non-Profits

From insurance to kitchens, the possibilities are endless

We are inspired by the way in which businesses have been developing products and services using insights gained from working with non-profits. From insurance to kitchens, and bras to skincare products, the knowledge and expertise of charities has proved vital.

Our case study on Legal & General’s Over-50’s life insurance product demonstrates how the views of three charities helped to shape modifications to the product that give customers more flexibility.

While those insights were gathered over a half-day workshop, the learning that Howdens Joinery gained from working with Leonard Cheshire Disability took place over several years. The relationship started as a charity initiative that involved fundraising and donating kitchens to Leonard Cheshire’s residential and day centres. Over time, however, Howdens realised that the modifications they made for people with disabilities had a mainstream application; the result is a new design mentality and a range of Inclusive Kitchens with subtle features designed for able-bodied as well as disabled customers.

When Marks & Spencer was approached by a customer who told them she could not find a post-mastectomy bra, they set about developing one with the help of that customer and the breast cancer charity she was supported by. Arguably, M&S could not have done this without the experience of customer and the charity; the result is an example of co-creation for both business and social value.

The expertise that Boots sought from the third sector was not about customers, but raw materials. Boots called upon Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, for specialist knowledge on plant extracts for its Botanics range of skincare products. The result is a range of products branded ‘developed with Kew’, recognising the partner for its expertise and role in the product’s development.

These are the trail-blazing examples and the message for R&D and innovation people, designers and product managers is clear: co-creation with the third sector is a route to innovation.