The purpose of this article is to give you a short overview about the trending topic co-creation from a theoretical, science-based perspective. In the next couple of articles I will write about different aspects of co-creation like what it means for branding and also how to use this approach in practice.
Co-Creation — what does it mean?
Having its roots within service literature, value co-creation has not just become a key concept across the management, innovation and marketing discipline, it also describes the way how organizations as definers of value from a traditional perspective start to open up their value creation processes by shifting to a more participative approach in which customers and organizations together generate and develop meaning (Ind and Coates 2013).
The concept of value co-creation was mainly introduced in the business management literature by Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2000). In their article, they make reference to the change in roles of the different actors. In particular, customers leave their traditional roles as passive audiences to become active players who co-create business value.
In 2004, Vargo and Lush (2004) introduced a provocative and substantial logic in marketing, namely service-dominant logic (SDL) which re-emphasizes a customer perspective and puts the customer back into the center of marketing theory. SDL describes the shift from the exchange of tangible goods to the exchange of intangibles, for example skills and knowledge. In contrast to the traditional goods-dominant logic in which organizations produce products and customers purchase them, SDL defines service as the common denominator in exchange.
In relation to SDL, Vargo and Lush (2004) suggest that value is created by the customer (also called value-in-use) and is a result of the exchange and interaction process involving operant resources of multiple parties instead of being embedded in the output per se. Their foundational proposition is the active involvement and interaction with the company in every aspect. Even though there is a discord regarding the components of co-creation, several researchers agree the value is embedded in the co-creation process between the customer and the organization.
It is not the customer who becomes a co-creator of value, but rather the firm when performing as a service provider getting opportunities to become a co-creator of value with their customers.
Whereas Lusch and Vargo (2006) argue that “the customer is always a co-creator of value”, Grönroos (2008; 2011), indicates that this statement is too simplistic and therefore misleading due to the fact that co-creation can only occur under certain circumstances. In contrast to Lusch and Vargo (2006) who treat value creation as co-creation, he argues that if value-in-use is the adopted concept of value creation, the customer is always a value creator and the firm acts as a facilitator of value creation. It is not the customer who becomes a co-creator of value, but rather the firm when performing as as service provider getting opportunities to become a co-creator of value with their customers only in a joint sphere when multiple parties interact.
Co-Creation & Marketing: Branding
The concept of the influential, active and co-creative customer has also been recognized in brand research. The meaning of brand and branding have been evolving over the last decades. The traditional perspective viewing companies as its brands’ possessor and therefore establishing its positioning (Keller 1993) is obsolete. Today, brands are described as a result of a complex social process involving various stakeholders (Muñiz and O’Guinn 2001; Merz, He, and Vargo 2009; Vargo and Lush 2004; Payne et al. 2009). According to this, the shift from an output orientation to a process orientation implicit that brand value is “co-created with all stakeholders and determined through all stakeholders’ collectively perceived value” (Merz, He, and Vargo 2009, p 340).
In the next article I will discuss co-creation in the context of branding in more detail.
Grönroos, Christian. „Service Logic Revisited: Who Creates Value? And Who Co-creates?“ Herausgegeben von Göran Svensson. European Business Review 20, Nr. 4 (27. Juni 2008): 298–314. https://doi.org/10.1108/09555340810886585.
Grönroos, Christian. „Value Co-Creation in Service Logic: A Critical Analysis“. Marketing Theory 11, Nr. 3 (September 2011): 279–301. https://doi.org/10.1177/1470593111408177.
Keller, Kevin Lane. „Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Managing Customer-Based Brand Equity“. Journal of Marketing 57, Nr. 1 (1993): 1–22. https://doi.org/10.2307/1252054.
Lusch, Robert F., und Stephen L. Vargo. „Service-Dominant Logic: Reactions, Reflections and Refinements“. Marketing Theory 6, Nr. 3 (September 2006): 281–88. https://doi.org/10.1177/1470593106066781.
Merz, Michael A., Yi He, und Stephen L. Vargo. „The Evolving Brand Logic: A Service-Dominant Logic Perspective“. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 37, Nr. 3 (September 2009): 328–44. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-009‑0143‑3.
Muniz, Albert M., und Thomas C. O’Guinn. „Brand Community“. Journal of Consumer Research 27, Nr. 4 (März 2001): 412–32. https://doi.org/10.1086/319618.
Payne, Adrian, Kaj Storbacka, Pennie Frow, und Simon Knox. „Co-Creating Brands: Diagnosing and Designing the Relationship Experience“. Journal of Business Research 62, Nr. 3 (März 2009): 379–89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2008.05.013.
Prahalad, C. K., und Venkat Ramaswamy. „Co-Creation Experiences: The next Practice in Value Creation“. Journal of Interactive Marketing 18, Nr. 3 (1. Januar 2004): 5–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/dir.20015.
Vargo, Stephen L., und Robert F. Lusch. „Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing“. Journal of Marketing 68, Nr. 1 (Januar 2004): 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkg.126.96.36.19936.