Co-Production & Co-creation

A managerial and theoretical underpinning to services marketing is the consumer as an active co-producer and co-creator of the value received from the provision of service. In classic service contexts, such as visiting a barber or a salon, the consumer has to be present and offer their preferences (i.e., customize what they want) as to how their hair should be styled. In technology contexts, such as using a self-service kiosk, the consumer has to offer their effort.


In both examples, consumers actively take part in the production of the rendering of a service product. This is in contrast to the economics model of marketing that became prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries, where the focus for firms was on mass manufacturing tangible good products. Under such a goods-dominant philosphy, the consumer had little-to-no input into the production of the final product. Yet, even manufacturing now enables co-production (e.g., Dell enabling consumers to customize PCs). Consumer co-production happens all around us.

Why is co-production so popular today? The answer is simple: consumers are now empowered and informed to know (usually) what they want or prefer. If Company A doesn't enable a consumer to customize preferences, you can be sure that Company B is ready to swoop in and let the customer co-produce.

What I posit in my research is that the fields of marketing communication and advertising should take note of services marketing's tenet of enabling consumers to co-produce offerings. Many consumers despise and do not trust advertising. What happens if you let a consumer co-produce the message? My fellow researchers and I argue that the message will be received more favorably.

In particular, we argue that co-production of marketing communication should be a mandate when firms attempt to interact with consumers via social media and mobile devices. These are more personal forms of communication (i.e., personal media) compared to mass media communication channels. It makes sense to enable consumers to take part in part of the communication process.

In a series of survey work and experiments we have shown how consumer co-production of marketing communication is more effective via personal media. For an example, you can read our 2014 publication in the Journal of Interactive Marketing. As firms invest for interest and more resources into social media and mobile marketing, enabling consumers to co-produce is paramount.