Co-creation for better idea generation

Nowadays platforms offer several opportunities for companies to interact with their customers. An example of such an interaction is market research. The purpose of the article of Witell et al. (2010) is to understand the differences between proactive and reactive market research techniques, as both have different influences during the development of new market offerings.

The true value of market offerings can be evaluated best through the lens of the customer, as they experience and evaluate a products value-in-use. Therefore, customers value creation processes should be the starting point when conducting market research, yet the literature remains focused on what customers purchase rather than what they actually do (Xie et al., 2007). The paper argues that replacing the passive view of customers with an active view will bring market offerings with greater customer value and more likely provide ideas that are beneficial for service innovation. Table 1 provides an overview.

Table 1. An overview of the type of customer, market orientation and research[1]

Type Market orientation Type of market research
Passive customer Responsive: A firms attempts to discover, understand and satisfy the expressed needs of its customer. Reactive techniques as surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups, as these focus on capturing customers’ previous experiences (Johnson 1998).
Active customer

Practice: A customer driven process.

Forward looking techniques assist in the development of innovative new services that build on getting greater access to customers’ underlying values and behaviors (Johnson, 1998). The latter seek for spoken and latent needs.

Specifically in the service sector, value-in-use is an important theme since customers are always a co-creators of value (Vargo and Lusch, 2004; Lusch and Vargo, 2006). The value is determined by and can only be created with the customer in the consumption process, through use.

The article also classifies two types of co-creation. Co-creation for use, which is performed by a specific customer for his or her own benefit and co-creation for others, which is directed towards other customers and aims to provide an idea, share knowledge or participate in the development of a product or service that can be of value for other customers. Both are important and should be applied more into the innovation phase of product development.

To summarize, in-depth interviews and focus groups are useful tools for certain types of market research, but sometimes it can be beneficial to apply others. In-depth interviews and focus groups may be suitable for capturing customers’ spoken needs, which can support incremental innovations. However, other approaches can be more effective for capturing latent needs and achieving radical innovations (Johnson, 1998; Gustafsson and Johnson, 2003). The results of this study show that managers can obtain useful knowledge about customers’ value-in-use contexts by involving customers in the early phases of the development process. The central point in this reasoning is that customers are the most familiar with their own lives and are, therefore, the best people to pre-evaluate the value-in-use of products and services.

[1] Narver et al.,2004


Narver, J.C. Slater, S.F. and MacLachlan, D.L. (2004), Responsive and proactive market orientation and new product success, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 334-47

Witell, L., Kristensson, P., Gustafsson, A., Löfgren, M. (2010) Idea generation: customer co-creation versus traditional market research techniques, Journal of Service Management, Vol. 22, No.2, pp. 140-159

Xie, C., Bagozzi, R.P. and Troye, S.V. (2007) Trying to prosume: toward a theory of consumers as co-creators of value, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 36. No. 1, pp. 109-122

Liselotte Keizer – 363966lk

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