Editor's note: Isabel Aneyba is president and chief insight generator of COMARKA, an Austin, Texas, research firm. Marie Lemerise is president of the Tapestry Group, a Brooklyn, N.Y., research firm.

While focus groups have long been a part of the innovation process, many clients have voiced their frustration about the limitations of traditional focus groups. One of our clients explained what marketers want:

Inject some fun into the research: They say focus groups are boring. They want research designs that are fun and real, with memorable experiences, like a reality TV show. When the research process has an element of fun, clients are often more engaged.

Improve the quality of insights: They say two-hour focus groups generate top-of-mind responses and reactions to concepts. Instead, they want a deeper understanding of the target and their unmet needs, especially when the target is of a different generation than the clients, like Millennials, or a different ethnic group, like Latinos.

Give us a speedier outcome: When the research project requires concept generation and evaluation, clients want an efficient design, preferably one study to meet their objectives and timeline. They want to learn who the target market is, what kind of product/brand concepts they should create and then be able to evaluate those concepts.

To respond to these and other client needs, we created a methodology called consumer co-creation camp. The consumer co-creation camp is designed to expedite the research process while making it fun and provide a more direct connection between clients and consumers.

After all, fun sparks creative thinking. When clients and consumers have fun together, they create ideas that are more likely to succeed in the marketplace. And when consumers and clients feel empathy for each other, they can create promising products and brand concepts.

Typically, when it comes to new pr...