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The co-creation concept is dead … Long live the co-creation concept

When I wrote my first paper in 2009 about co-creation, I had already the feeling that it would quickly become a big thing, one of those topics that can capture the attention of the business world. The readers of this blog have been given the opportunity to follow the evolution of the co-creation concept and how it penetrated the business world.

Although academics still debate over the ver definition of the co-creation concept (Vargo and Lusch didn’t define it precisely in 2004) it can already be noticed that co-creation is becoming increasingly popular in the business world. Not knowing exactly what it means, practitioners create their own definitions and use co-creation as a synonym for other some trendy marketing practices. The latest example of this was given to me by a short article published on the website of a leading magazine fr marketing practitioners. The author used co-creations as a synonym for dialog and innovation with online communities. Surely enough co-creation encompasses aspects of innovation through customers’ and other stakeholders’ involvement. However this online dialog, presented as a must for today’s firms, can hardly help reach breakthrough innovation and can be expected to deliver incremental innovation at best. Just think about the type of ideas implemented by successful platforms like MyStarbucksIdea and DellIdeaStorm.

My take:

Of course this is only my opinion but this co-creation concept doesn’t inspire me any longer. It is not a revolution anymore. It is becoming a trend and I don’t like trends followed by the mass.

Look at American Airlines for instance. They really brought out a revolution with their miles-based loyalty card. They set up a standard that has been followed by all other airlines. Once a loyalty instrument, it is no longer what it aimed at.

Co-creation and what firms understand of it, that’s to say online dialog, will become a must-have in the coming years. Because of this very popularization and standardization, online dialog I think will become a commodity and will no longer help companies gain useful insights. It will become yet another communication channel.

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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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