Think “Me” to “We”

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Discussing business projections as a team

Marketers worldwide are abuzz with website which are created for the users but are alive with the content created by the users. Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Blogger and Yahoo! answers are to name the few. What is worth seeking answers is that these websites not only are doing well but are the setting examples in terms of market penetration. Facebook, for instance, is accessed by around 500 million people and penetrates to about 40% to 50% population some countries like Honk-Kong, Canada, USA and the UK.

Companies have been co-creating products for a long time now. There have been numerous examples and to name some interesting and most common ones would be as follows-Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia which is arguably the web’s largest co-creation project, has taken over 100 million man hours to build.Starbucks, as most of their innovations and menu items are created by the customers, submitted via mystarbucksideas,a Starbucks project.

Sub-way sandwiches do not have a particular recipe and are created with the customers, depending on what the customer is in a mood to eat at that time.BootB is an online platform, built to run advertising Pitches. A company can start their own Pitch and get Solutions from an unlimited number of Creators from anywhere on the entire planet.

It can thus be argued that the concept of co-creation is not an industry specific and exists in almost all kind of sectors. Researchers have started to realise its importance and have tried to analyse why companies have started thinking from “me to we” and as Prahalad and Ramaswamy termed it, “co-create” (Ramaswamy, 2009).

Some of the co-created models offer monetary incentives to motivate the users to participate, but most don’t. There must be other motivators why individuals feel the need to get involved in creating something that will be eventually offered to them to use, or maybe, even sold to them.

Beyond the obvious ‘commercial’ motivations, the other drivers, must not probably draw on deep human psychology. Few co-created model will be critically analysed to conclude this hypothesis.

A big clue that the motivator must be psychological is that most people that contribute by writing write about themselves. Blogger – a Google product, is an example of Blog while twitter is an example of micro-blog, which is similar to blogs but limited to 160 characters only. Bloggers, most often, present personal reflection on events and issues and hence sometimes blogs are referred to as a “personal web page” (Gunter, 2009).

Today, how we dress and what we associate ourselves with is driven to a large degree by what we want people to think about us. When it comes to online -communities, the appeal of connectedness is clearly a powerful motivator. Facebook and Orkut have these communities as an option and it motivates the users to not only join them but get into a discussion and create content for the respective website, unconsciously.

With such a strong motivation factor, this concept is sure to grow and brands should exploit this opportunity by creating products for the people – by the people.

References
Gunter, B. (2009). Blogging – private becomes public and public becomes personalised. Aslib Proceedings. 61 (2), 120-126.
Ramaswamy, V. (2009). Leading the transformation to co-creation of value. Strategy & Leadership. 37 (2), 32-37.

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I'm an eCommerce Project Director at an agency in London and a consultant for a number of eCommerce start-ups. I founded Think etc 9 years ago which now lets me share my research and experience with all the interesting brands, people, places and projects that I have been privileged to work with. My work on crowdsourcing was published by Oxford as part of a journal article and I have been obsessing over eCommerce and Magento over the past several years.

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