The roles of businesses and consumers are continuously in flux (Saarijärvi et al, 2013). While beforehand businesses called the shots in the exchange and interaction with consumers, nowadays, due to modern communication possibilities and information technology, the power of consumer’s increased dramatically with as a consequence that companies and organizations need to operate more client-oriented than ever before. On the other hand, companies have become more interested in consumer’s specific needs and opinions in order to translate these to relevant products that satisfy the market segments (Jansen et al, 2013). In the light of these developments, co-creation, which means that companies and consumers work together in order to create, design and develop products, services and so on, started to emerge.
It is still debatable what the term co-creation actually means and what is considered to be co-creation and what not. Some authors argue that co-creation already occurs when consumers are providing input in different business processes, while others argue that the active and continuous involvement of a consumer, indicating a productive collaboration between the business and it’s consumers, is the essence of co-creation (Jansen et al, 2013). Furthermore, co-creation is also associated with creating added value which would not have occurred without the input of both parties. However, obviously added value is difficult to measure and moreover, it is also difficult to determine for whom exactly the added value is beneficial (Saarijärvi et al, 2013). Anyway, basically co-creation can be viewed as a process in which firms and consumers redefine their roles towards each other and in which two-way communication and interaction are important aspects.
The notion that the boundaries between businesses and their customers are becoming more blurry due to changing roles, indicates the beginning of a new era. Therefore T-Mobile involved its customers to co-destruct the past in order to start working together on new ideas and products. Due to the fact that businesses and customers demand a lot from each other nowadays, T-Mobile argued that space had to be made by throwing away old visions and relationships that are not feasible anymore in today’s society. With the help of a fighting master with traditional Korean fighting skills, T-Mobile consumers could physically destroy their obstacles and issues written on a piece of wood. Visitors got half of the pieces of their broken wood, as a memory of leaving the past behind and starting fresh with co-creation as the new standard. The other half of the destroyed pieces of wood is used by T-Mobile in order to create a table for the boardroom on which people can be invited to start the co-creation process necessary in today’s environment (Koole, 2013).
Would this symbolic co-destruction lead the way to a fruitful co-creation process between businesses and consumers? It’s certainly a start, but we still have to experience how co-creation will evolve in the newly defined relationship between businesses and consumers.
- Jansen, S & Pieters, M. (2013). Orde in de chaos: 6 voordelen van complete cocreatie. Visisted on May 14, 2014.
- Koole, J. (2013). Co-destructie: de waarde van samen dingen kapot maken. Visited on May 14, 2014.
- Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P.J., Kuusela, H. (2013). Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications. European Business Review (25,1) p. 6-19.