Customer-Empowerment: The Next Level of Innovation

There’s innovation. There’s customer-driven innovation. Then there’s customer-empowered innovation.

Five years ago, outdoor clothing retailer Eddie Bauer launched the First Ascent line for serious alpine use. Yet the market space was already crowded. How to stand out?

By empowering the ultimate experts: world-class outdoor athletes and guides. Empowering those experts not just to provide product input on the front end and feedback on the back end, but empowering them with go / no-go decisions about product designs they’ve tested in the field.

That’s right, the experts get to decide, not the company. Which means their tagline, ‘Guide built. Guide trusted.’ is not just marketing fluff. It’s real.

As Ed Viesturs, a First Ascent guide and the first American to summit all fourteen 8,000-meter mountains, has said, ‘The really cool part about the process is that in the end, we have the ultimate stamp of approval. If we like it, BOOM, it gets made, and if we don’t, it gets canned.’

You can’t get much more credible than that.

How would empowering your customers strengthen your products and services … and credibility?

Your thoughts?


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