Co-creation is the future of marketing

January 13th, 2012     by ddeal    

I recently wrote a blog post for the iCrossing Content Lab regarding the Raytheon Sum of All Thrills ride — an intriguing experience in which you build your own virtual ride using computer design tools provided by Raytheon. I was excited to see Doug Williams of Forrester Research comment on my post through one of this own, “Co-creating Value at Disney World.” Doug goes beyond what I wrote to describe some other ways Disney World guests can create their own entertainment content. I hope you take a moment to read his post as well as this one by Joe Chernov on content co-creation.

Co-creation is the future of marketing. As my colleagues at iCrossing discussed in a white paper last year, both brands and consumers are acting like their own media now, with access to the same tools to publish their own ideas year-round. So it’s only natural that those two worlds would converge. Content co-creation occurs in a few important ways:

  • Co-creation of products: consumers are enlisted to share in product ideation. Example: Starbucks MyStarbucks Idea and its social co-creation contests. As I wrote on the iCrossing Great Finds blog last year, co-creation delivers several benefits including reducing risk, improving ideation, and creating an engaging dialogue with your customers long before your product is even launched.
  • Co-creation of an experience. Consumers participate as a partner to create a great experience, whether through live entertainment or something more programmed, like Raytheon Sum of All Thrills.
  • Thought leadership co-development: a brand collaborates with a consumer to publish ideas. The most common examples consist of any brands that open up their blogs to outside contributors or media companies that invite civilian journalists to participate in reporting and publishing guest columns. But companies like Eloqua have co-created thought leadership as seen with the publication of the Eloqua Social Media Playbook. Typically brands partner with subject matter experts in such cases. The brand benefits by staying continuously engaged in grass-roots ideas from the marketplace instead of isolating itself in an ivory tower.

According to research conducted by Doug Williams, the majority of people want to participate in co-development with brands. Co-Creation is real. In 2011, an organization called the Co-Creation Forum was launched to promote “best practices and stimulates thought-leadership among co-creation practitioners, communities and businesses.” You can follow the evolution of co-creation on forums such as Doug’s own blog and the new Fast Company Co.create site. (Update on January 13: I just came across this Imperial Leisure post on the topic. It’s interesting to note that the Imperial Leisure post appears to have been in development at the same time I was researching and writing my own Superhype entry — quite timely and a validation of the popularity of co-creation.)


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  1. 3 Responses to “Co-creation is the future of marketing”

  2. By Stefano @ Imperial Leisure Social Media Agency on Jan 13, 2012 | Reply

    Hi David, thanks for mentioning our piece. It’s quite interesting how co-creation, which is actually a concept that’s been around for many years, is coming back into the mainstream, largely due to social media’s quick dispersal.

    We think it’s also worth pointing out that co-creation can only work if there’s mutual commitment by both sides; the consumer and the brand. It won’t always generate high quality content, but it will definitely improve a brand’s relationship with its audience. Like in our Moleskine example, brands that treat social media as just another ‘marketing channel’ will face difficulties.

  3. By ddeal on Jan 13, 2012 | Reply

    Excellent points, thank you — and, of course, your post is great. I agree that co-creation has been around awhile; co-creation has hit a tipping point now that brands are more formally and consistently embedding co-creation into the process of developing products, services, and experiences. Indeed social media has been a tremendous catalyst, empowering brands and consumers to become publishers of their own converging ideas.

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