Traditional media strategies have been around for years and a lot of companies still apply these methods. But with the media changing and new media platforms popping up on the internet, do companies still reach their target audience with, the more traditional, integrated marketing communications? Integrated marketing communications highlight the advantages of combining different media platforms. However, only combining media platforms is not enough anymore The postmodern consumer is more involved in the process than ever because of new media and technological developments (e.g. virtual reality, social media and smartwatches).
What is co-creation?
Looking back in history, co-creation first started in the 1970s. People then have given more influence and room for an initiative in roles where they provide their expertise and participation, this happened mostly in the design phase (the phase before a product was launched). Co-design refers to the creativity of designers and people who are not trained in design, working together in the design development process. Co-creation is actually referred to as an act of collective creativity. In the past 40 years, co-design and co-creation have increased in popularity, the user’s opinion became increasingly important for companies.
The new generation
The new generation who used the internet and the platforms are having an easy time in distributing and sharing their opinion. The internet has given a voice to people who were previously not even a part of the conversation. The main cause for this is the rise from social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Still, not all companies make use of the new and easy interaction with their user. There are different reasons why it is taking so long for companies to see the value of co-creation.
1. To embrace co-creativity, it requires companies to believe that all people are creative.
2. Companies often do not think further than the process between the advertising message and the link with the product. The connection with the user is not included in the strategy.
3. The reason why companies are not using co-creation yet is that companies are afraid to step in the unknown. In many parts of the advertisement industry, investment in research and co-creation is looked upon as a non-obvious step.
Some companies are ahead in understanding the importance of co-creation. For example, Nike. NikeID allows people to customize their own shoes online on the Nike website. Users choose a model and design it their own way. It works so well because co-created products are created on-demand, which way consumers get exactly what they want, and only what they want. The NikeID platform already brought over 100 million in revenue for the company in 2009. It proved that co-creation was not a trend but that consumers actually are looking for their own voice and design.
Co-creation is not only useful to connect with the audience but also a way to get new products and services into an overcrowded marketplace. It is being used as a powerful tool for product naming, packaging, promotion and advertising. BMW used co-creation throughout their entire process to drive innovation. BMW has its own “Co-Creation Lab” that is a virtual community whereby consumers can offer their opinions on designs and even submit their own ideas. By doing this BMW made the consumer feel important and relevant. Consumers were involved in the design process from start to finish.
Companies need to let go of the fear to use co-creation. Since it is easy for people to share their opinion on the internet, the gap between companies and users becomes smaller. Companies should take advantage of that and realize that consumers are not only customers anymore but also valuable partners. By giving the user a voice in this postmodern market, companies get to know a lot of data about the needs and wants from the target audience.