In the recent issue of Marketing Review, a German-language magazine on marketing practice, a number of brief articles are addressing open innovation with customers. In the lead article, Christoph Ihl and I are presenting our structure of different approaches of customer co-creation. "Co-creation" is the term I now frequently use to address the systematic integration of customers in the innovation process of a company. Customer co-creation is
".. an active, creative and social process, based on collaboration between producers (retailers) and users, that is initiated by the firm to generate value for customers." (This definition has been inspired by this report of LSE).
In our article, we present the following structure of eight co-creation strategies. The picture is in German (as is the article), but the strategies are easy to differentiate:
The dimensions we found crucial to differentiate between co-creation methods of companies are:
- The stage in the innovation process: Are customers being integrated in the early stages like ideation and concept development ("Frühe Phase") or the later stages like product development, testing, or launching the new product ("Späte Phase").
- The relationship of the companies with its customers: Is the company focuing on interacting with single customers which are not connected with each others, or is the company addressing a community of users?
- The scope of the task that is demanded from customers: Are companies offering large degrees of freedom for customers to participate, or are they integrating them into a clearly defined, rather narrow task?
This structure is building on our earlier (much longer) report on "Open Innovation with Customers" (Download working paper version). In several workshops with companies, I found this strcuture helpful to differentiate the diverse starting points for co-creation. Here is the link to the full article. I am also happy to send you the corresponding working paper (in German) with the content of this article.
Also in the same issue, Tina Burkhart, a Ph.D. student at our department and at the same time a member of Henkel AG's innovation management team, writes with some colleagues about implementing open innovation in this company. And Katja Hutter and her co-authors have a nice article about customer idea contests as a special measure of customer co-creation.