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lundi 5 décembre 2011

Marketing : What co-cocreation is, what co-creation is not. Back to basics.

Co-creation has been associated with two main approaches in marketing and strategy literature, ranging from customizable and/or experiential consumption (product or service) to innovation with customers or consumers.

The former occurs whenever consumers interact with companies or products and thereby have an active role in the shaping of their personal experience. The latter considers that co-creation is a form of collaborative creativity that is initiated by marketers to boost innovation with, rather than for, their consumers.


  • Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004) : co-creation, the locus of value creation and value extraction
Co-creation is evolution and transformation of customers from passive audiences to ‘active players’ in order to create additional value. The customer’s value creation process can be defined as a series of activities performed by the customer to achieve a particular goal. In a nutshell, co-creation occurs when a "customer personalize his or her experience through a product or service, in the life time ot its use, to a level that is best suited to get his job(s) done".

"Informed, networked, empowered, and active consumers are increasingly co-creating value with the firm. The interaction between the firm and the consumer is becoming the locus of value creation and value extraction. As value shifts to experiences, the market is becoming a forum for conversation and interactions between consumers, consumer communities, and firms. It is this dialogue, access, transparency, and understanding of risk/benefits that is central to the next practice in value creation."

First of all, don't confused "co-creation" with self-service or mass-customization !

Instead of this, you have to consider a joint creation of value with (rather simply for) the customer : creating a space of dialogue for understanding customer experiences. Secondly, the problem definition and problem solving are shared between the two stakeholders, not the exclusive property of the firm. And finally, remember that the consumer will never be your product manager, but must be considered as a source of competence. But harnessing the competences of the consumer is not an easy task...

Source : Prahalad C.K. & Ramaswamy V. (2004), Co-creation experiences: the next practices in value creation, Journal of Interactive Marketing, 18, 3, 5-14.

  • Thomke &Von Hippel (2002) : co-creation with leading-edge customers
With a customer-as-innovators approach, co-creation encompasses three areas: design (ideation), building prototypes, testing products. Five steps are required for tunrning customers into innovators: 

1. Develop a user-friendly tool kit (now, via an internet platform to create a virtual customer environment), 
2. Increase the flexibility of the production processes,
3. Carefully select the right participants, prefer targeting leading-edge customers (ie. lead-user),
4. Evolve your tool kit continually and rapidly to satisfy your leading-edge customers,
5. Adapt your business practices accordingly. 

"Traditionally, suppliers have taken on most of the work-and responsibility of product development. The result has been costly and time consuming iterations between supplier and customer to reach a satisfactory solution. With the customers as-innovators approach, a supplier provides customers with tools so that they can design and develop the application specific part of a product on their own. This shifts the location of the supplier customer interface, and the trial-and-error iterations necessary for product development are now carried out by the customer only. The result is greatly increased speed and effectiveness".

Thomke S. et Von Hippel E. (2002), Customers as innovators : a new way to create value, Harvard Business Review, april, 80, 74-81.

Synthetis :   What a co-creation approach implies for marketing management and marketing resarch?

Co-creation is more than co-marketing, like viral or word-of-mouth marketing where customers are viewed as co-sales agents.
Clearly, individuals want to use interaction as a locus of value creation. Consumers and customers now demand to interact with marketing, as well as individual entities or members of (virtual) communities in order to co-create value that reflects their unsatisfied needs, rather than buying what marketing offers to them.

Co-creation aimed at putting the customer, and more generally the consumer, at the heart of the company. Consumers and customers provide ideas, suggestions on how to improve products/services or to generate the development of them.
The consumers are seen as a key resource of knowledge that goes much beyond the traditional scope of research in consumer behavior. More specifically, marketing managers must rethinking market research and "putting people back in". Observing, understanding, participating in order to create a value rich experience.

Interesting links :

1 commentaire:

  1. Theory is good, but a few years old now. Many companies have gathered learnings about dos/ don'ts in co-creation and open innovation/ crowd sourcing making it eminently practical. With respect - much market research already implements what you suggest "putting people back in" - collaborative methods have hit the mainstream already.