Thursday, June 01, 2006

What's up with Co-Creation?

The term “Co-Creation”, meaning the consumer’s participation in creating marketing content and experiences, has seen quite some popularity over the last year. You just have to look at the Firefox success of receiving almost 300 submissions for the “Firefox Flicks” ad contest last year, or GM’s Chevy Tahoe’s attempt to solicit consumer ads (backfiring a bit with some strong Anti-SUV messages). Rob Walker in this week’s NYTimes calls the phenomena of “Co-Creation” less a significant change in the marketing value chain than a symptom of our consumer society, where consumers become “Co-Promoter” of their capabilities to produce marketing content. It’s sounds more like individual career enhancement than interactive brand dialog.

What’s really going on here? I believe the phenomena of Co-Creation plays at the intersection of three significant movements:
  • The “consumer society” where the Consumer becomes the Marketer: Most Individuals act either as consuming entities or as value creator in today’s consumer world. There are only rare moments when they are not part of either the consumption or the value creation part. The consuming part exists in the moment when they either shop or buy something; the value creating part is in their professional lives of earning a living. Both roles are fully integrated in today’s consumer world, one passive consuming, and one active creating. The Co-Creation of Consumers combine both normally separate universes into one unified moment of the simultaneously shopping and creating consumer
  • The “consumer in control” doctrine where the Consumer is the Boss of any marketing interaction: The consumer is not just anymore passive victim of the marketer’s communication strategies but active creator of its own network of trusted informer and relevant brands. The marketer always pretended that the consumer is the boss; now the consumer took this claim at face value and acts like the real boss. P&G was one of the first companies who took this movement seriously and follows this doctrine relentlessly.
  • The “media layering and weaving consumer” where he creates his own media world. The consumer rejects most attempts of being informed by a masterminding marketer who decides how the different media are smartly orchestrated to stimulate a particular purchase decision. Nowadays the consumer creates his own personal media world which is extremely individual, changes throughout the day, all depending on the purchase intent and stage of the consumer.

These three movements will ensure that the currently hyped up phenomena “Co-Creation” will transform itself into a stable part of the marketing tool box. It will be one of the tools like a loyalty program or value add services to drive brand loyalty and engagement. This growing tool box will not be owned anymore just by the marketer but by the consumer, too. We marketers should focus on creating more engaging tools and ensure their relevance in building successful marketing.


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