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Co-creation lesson #1

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What is the common point between the Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss, the new fragrance launched by Unilever and a Raidlight backpack? All those innovations are the product of co-creation processes.
Co-creation processes begin to attract the interest of big companies as suggests a recent article published in Business Week (Wong, 2010). Co-creation is however not a recent concept as our research will show. It is about 40 years old and has evolved dramatically and taken many forms in the last 20 years.

The wording itself (“value co-creation”) is the recent evolution of an older wording used from the late 1970’s onwards: “value co-production”.

However there is no real agreement on what co-creation really is. I reviewed 40 years of literature and eventually divided co-creation processes in five categories. I will deal with those five categories in five posts on this blog.

Let’s begin with the first.

CO-CREATION PROCESS #1 : DO-IT-YOURSELF

The customer is in charge of the last step(s) of the process and is willing to play an active role.

Low-cost businesses (but not only) have these active co-creation steps rooted in their DNA. IKEA asks customers to pick up and assemble furniture to ensure that costs are kept minimal, most airlines are proposing (if not requiring) that customers check online, supermarkets are giving impatient customers the possibility to scan and check out themselves.
Examples are numerous and customers’ sensitivity to prices will only ensure that this trend goes further.

This co-creation process is the most ancient one and paved the way in the 70’s under the name “co-production”. It was a firm-centric view of how to collaborate with the customer and we will see in the next posts how it has evolved.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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