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Co-creation lesson #4: the community effect

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The boundary is thin between customer participation, the ultimate stage of customer involvement, and the networked nature of co-creation. Whereas a community can co-create by itself, customer participation requires the involvement of the firm too. The benefits are however similar for the involved parties and were clearly identified by Payne et al. (2008, 2009): customer learning and organizational learning.

The IT revolution has of course enabled that those learning processes could be implemented at relatively low costs (which was a prerequisite to ensure the buy-in of firms). From the Linux community twenty years ago to today’s community platforms, through online forums, the networked co-creation has evolved at the pace of technology. Among the best examples of how leveraging the communitarian co-creation opportunities is the initiative of Starbucks: mystarbucksidea.com. This website, which can be seen as a co-creation platform shared by the community of Starbucks enthusiasts, allows clients to make suggestions that are visible to the whole community. The suggestions are rated and assessed by Starbucks, the follow-up stage of the idea being visible for everyone.

My take:

I think Linux is more an exception than the rule; a community rarely co-creates by itself without a strong trigger. However poorly managed communities will certainly fail to co-create.

Strong emotional bounds can be found at the heart of successful communities like MyStarbucksIdea. Such a success is however also highly dependant on the efforts put by the firm. It is illusory to think that a passive management of an online community will deliver results. Your involvement has to be active and original. Look at what one of clients succeeded in creating: ProDegustation, the French leader in wine tasting sessions, started creating videos for its Facebook fans and has become the first French-speaking group on wine.

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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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