giffgaff UK: A Case Study of Customer Co-creation

Paul    June 17, 2015

 Blog Title: giffgaff UK: A Case Study of Customer Co-creation

Organisation Name: giffgaff (wholly owned by Telefonica/02)

Industry: Mobile Network

CEO: Mike Fairman

Web References: giffgaff, Julie Walker, LSE Enterprise Co-creationThe Customer Blog,

Giffgaff is a United Kingdom Mobile Virtual Network Operator. Commonly know as an “MVNO”, giffgaff does not own the wireless network infrastructure, but accesses the UK’s “O2” network through a wholesale agreement to deliver mobile services. Giffgaff’s unique feature is that customers can order just a free SIM card to put into any phone and then package a highly flexible “goodybag” service bundle.


Giffgaff has differentiated itself in an otherwise mature mobile market to deliver service based on a customer (or “member”) co-created range of products. Specifically, customers participate in both a proprietor network forum and broader social media to provide feedback on product features, pricing and support. Customer ideas lead directly to new product development and innovation. The product and service development process not only includes customers, but rewards them for their contribution. Commitment to customer co-creation runs deep within giffgaff – their name? – it’s old Scottish for “mutual giving”.

We’re All The Boss

Run By You

Giffgaff Labs is the virtual community to which members can post their feedback in the Idea Exchange. Community members vote and comment on submitted ideas. Voting values drive ideas through the submission process to be assessed by giffgaff. Idea feedback from giffgaff to customers is current and well structured, therefore, reinforcing the contributor process. For example, each idea is timed with a run down of 30 days. Responses are returned to the contributor within a process oriented framework:

From: giffgaff How It works


Idea statistics are continuously presented to community members. In addition, Giffgaff highlights specific member ideas on a dedicated page, by categorizing submissions as: “We’re Looking Into To It”, “Featured Ideas” and “Top Ideas”.

From: giffgaff Stats


my giffgaff

Recently giffgaff has released a mobile app that is available on all major mobile platforms including: IOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile. The app has a “community” component that drives real-time participation to the giffgaff forums and Idea Lab. To further widen the giftgaff customer/member network, the company is extensively represented in all major social media communities. Participation rates are impressive:


Since giffgaff’s product developmental pipeline highly incorporates customer participation, it’s no surprise that the company has designed such a broad, deep and highly interconnected media eco system. The model acts to funnel customer feedback, mutual support and ideas from decentralized social media access points, to a proprietor platform of systematic categorization, then to a developmental process with stage reporting. Ultimately, customers do see a final product or service that they had helped to create.

From Ideas to Launch  

The most popular idea submitted by a giffgaff customer in 2014 was implemented: “The ability to start your goody bag early”. A goody bag is basic a predefined service bundle (voice, text, data, etc.). Previously modifications could not be made until months end. The idea implemented allows for a modification at any time, i.e. start or end a bundle on demand. Other notable customer ideas implemented in 2014 include: a new goody bag for higher data availability for tethering, 4G access for the same cost as 3G for existing customers and a giffgaff app update that flags other giffgaff members in users’ contact lists. More customer generated product launches can be found here.

How Does Co-creation Add Value?

There are two partners in the co-creation value relationship: consumers and companies. Giffgaff customers experience greater personalization of products, a direct form of advocacy and tangible rewards in the form of money for peer recruitment and free service top-ups in return for developed ideas. To their credit, Telefonica recognizes that their continued growth in a mature market depends on innovation. Giffgaff is in effect Telefonica’s carved out experimentation with social product innovation – a form of subsidiary lab. The giffgaff  model of social innovation provides market differentiation and a competitive advantage. Knowledge from customers increases speed to market, potentially lowers product developement costs and creates a more satisfying customer experience. Customer co-creation was initiated by giffgaff to generate value for customers, and in return, value for the company. “Giffgaff” is literally part of Telifinoca’s larger market strategy.

Lessons for others:

  1. Customer co-creation is not only a product development strategy, but also a platform to build competitive advantage (or perhaps to enter a market).
  2. To meaningly fully engage in customer co-creation product development, it is necessary to build a broad and deep social media network anchored to an enterprise system.
  3. Customer contributors are motivated by immediate and constant feedback.
  4. Make as much of the idea or product suggestion process, from start to end, as transparent and available to participants as possible.
  5. Tangible customer incentives strongly support the product development process.
  6. If a customer co-creation product strategy is to be deployed, make it a core part of  brand identity.

Submitted by: Paul Baumgartner University of Waterloo SMBP

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