The example of the Threadless company founded in 2000, which produces t-shirts with prints, shows how a strong community created by consumers can have a large impact on the production and improvement of products.
Threadless clients have been invited to participate in the community, which allows you to submit designs of shirts and other printed materials. The community can also vote and choose the most interesting proposals – winning projects are selected for production and sold as limited series. Because the number of prints is limited, the t-shirts become involved for the participants, which appear briefly in the sale.
The company is constantly open to new proposals from recipients and their projects. Community participants are also guaranteed that new votes and new rankings will take place.
This concept is referred to as the collaborative design market. Threadless community currently has 1.5 million users and thanks to their commitment, energy, creativity and collective work, they exert a great influence on the production of t-shirts. The company can also count on profits from the involvement of its clients – it reacts faster to market trends and niches. The structure of collective decision making becomes two-level – at the first stage, all users have the say, and the management reserves the right to create works selected from the ranking list (after voting). The winning entries are rewarded with both prizes and financial shares in the sales profit.
Threadless case shows that the combination of factors typical of collective intelligence (willingness to create and to make decisions) can bring unique results, increase brand attachment and significantly affect the originality of the products offered.