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Posts Tagged ‘co-creation’

Today we are beginning a new ‘semi-frequent’ feature on the Propelling Brands blog.  In addition to the regular features and ‘who’s propelling’ profiles of individuals and companies, we will periodically feature Q&As with individuals that are true forward thinkers on brands, marketing, innovation and technology.

  

Wisconsin School of Business

Source: Wisconsin School of Business

Professor Aric Rindfleisch is just such a forward thinker and marketing researcher, who works to fuse insights from the front lines of business and marketing with cutting-edge academic research.  In addition to his extensive academic background, he has worked for both ad agency J. Walter Thompson in Japan and marketing research firm Millward Brown.  Rindfleisch is currently the Associate Dean for Research & PhD Programs and a Professor of Marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He teaches graduate-level courses for the Wisconsin School of Business on new product development and marketing strategy; his academic research focuses on understanding inter-organizational relationships, consumption values, and new product development; and he is developing a new blog for the school, titled WisconsInnovation which seeks to bring together the ‘co-created’ insights of both faculty and students on innovation in business.

Rindfleisch has recently authored a groundbreaking paper, titled “Customer Co-creation:  A Typology and Research Agenda,” which we are fortunate to be able to share on this blog.  His co-author is Matthew S. O’Hern, a lecturer and doctoral student in marketing at Wisconsin.  The paper is slated to be published in an upcoming volume of the academic journal Review of Marketing Research.  And it is the focus of our Q&A here.

So what does co-creation really mean?  What is the impact of co-creation research on businesses, and how can marketers embrace co-creation as a strategy for improving the customer-brand relationship?

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The last year has brought a groundswell of mainstream marketers integrating social media considerations into their marketing-communication planning.  My last post talked about the potential for achieving marketing ‘co-creation’ as one outcome and as a way to improve marketing personalization.  In fact, venues such as blogs and Twitter have become indispensable tools for PR functionaries, and forums such as Facebook and LinkedIn are presenting new opportunities for ‘micro-targeting’ of advertisements and offers based on social graphs.

The next frontier is leveraging social media to innovate the process of new product/service development (NPSD) — supporting co-creation in this arena.  The fact that social media is interactive, honest, transparent and potentially highly targeted presents tremendous opportunities for garnering incredibly-valuable insights into customers’ wants and needs.  In fact, at a time when marketing researchers are questioning structured surveys and they are pushing for more observational, behavioral and ethnographic research, social media represents a way to evolve the process of insight-based marketing to the next level.

“In the age of social media, I would argue that this is becoming easier, not harder,” commented Liz Moise with Boston-area marketing firm BluePoint Venture Marketing in a recent post on the firm’s blog.  “… [Y]ou can get online and find your customers.  You can listen in on their conversations, or grievances. You can speak to them directly.”

Social media is also an important tool to help brand-companies respond to the fundamental power shift in NPSD — from ‘brand push’ to ‘customer pull.’  Customers are at the center of their universe more than ever.  Brand-companies must contend with a highly-sophisticated customer with many options and choices in the marketplace.  Understanding the nuances of a customer’s needs is critical — especially when it comes to the aspects of a customer’s existence you are not servicing today.

“As a business, you ought to be watching how people — especially your customers — are expressing themselves outside the context of being your customers,” commented social media marketing guru Amber Naslund on her Altitude Branding blog earlier this month.  “They’re multi-dimensional people … .”

But what is the best way to approach social media as a tool for marketing research and for NPSD innovation?  What is a framework we can use to better match social-media platforms with our objectives for garnering customer insights?

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I wrote in a recent piece on this blog, titled “Marketing Personalization 2.0,” about how companies are increasingly applying techniques from mass customization, using ideas such as personas and embracing what Patricia Seybold refers to as ‘customer scenarios’ to improve personalization of marketing efforts.  I also cited a range of technologies that can manage execution of this type of marketing.

Yet, even as this evolution represents an advancement over Marketing Personalization 1.0 (i.e., demographic and lifestyle channel targeting), there is much to be desired.  We are still at a point as marketers where we are guessing at personalization.  It is still possible to make costly mistakes, particularly if we misjudge customer persona or the channels for interacting with a given persona.

Adam Needles, Propelling Brands (original)

Source: Adam Needles, Propelling Brands (original)

“If you think backward from the audience you’re trying to reach and the channels and methods you’ve used to try to reach them, it all argues for taking a much more integrated approach to the work of marketing and communications,” argues Jon Iwata, SVP of Marketing and Communications for IBM, quoted in a recent piece by Paul Dunay on the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog.

Fortunately, waiting in the wings is a new wave of technologies that promise to rapidly leapfrog the current state and to take us to what I believe is a very tenable basis for structuring and ‘propelling’ forward to Marketing Personalization 3.0 (see diagram).  These technologies, which include semantic analysis and social graphs, offer the potential not only to get closer to customers than ever before, but they also approach enabling what I believe is true ‘co-creation‘ of the marketing experience.

What do I mean by this?  Customers, who increasingly have power and leverage over brand-companies, will not only specify what they want but will also shape the boundaries and expectations of their communication with, recommendations regarding and the ultimate delivery of products and services from vendors. 

The entire experience will become a partnership, but why is this important?

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