« Co-creation with the masses does not work », says professor Eric Vernette

Well before brands even started showing interest in topics like co-creation, crowdsourcing and collaborative innovation, university researchers were already evaluating the phenomenon driving importance of increased consumer voice. Not only did they discover positive aspects from integrating the client in the value-creation process but they also noted limits and insisted on defining clear collaboration procedures.

The former president of the Association Française du Marketing (French Marketing Association, commonly known as the “AFM”), Eric Vernette, is a professor at the University of Toulouse I Capitole – and is also responsible for the marketing branch at the Center for Management Research at the University. In addition, he is the Co-Editor in Chief of the scientific journal, Décisions Marketing – which is produced by the AFM. Eric Vernette shares with us 5 key ways to succeed in co-creation.

1. Successful co-creation is that which gives power to the consumer.

According to Eric Vernette, co-creation is part of a “consumer empowerment” marketing strategy. “With co-creation, we give the consumer a golden opportunity to express him or herself but also to get involved with all the different steps – like imagining new communication forms or participating in the development of a prototype of a product or service.” This new trend is amplified by the online community movement: “it’s normal for companies to want to associate themselves with this abundance of ideas,” concludes Professor Vernette.


2. Co-creating with masses of people does not work.

It is wrong to think that it is possible to co-create with any old consumer, according to Professor Vernette. “One of my current areas of research is to construct and validate methods that allow to identify and validate these consumers – those which anticipate trends and thrive in co-creation.” “Being able to pinpoint and describe these individuals – who can foresee market needs and provide the best solutions for brands – is a major challenge for marketing researchers!” According to Vernette, « only a small number of people are inventive and in tune with market desires. It defeats the purpose to carry out co-creation projects with masses of people who will produce varied results, leaving interesting ideas as difficult to locate as a needle in a haystack.”


3. Do not forget: it is the company who manages the innovation process.

The risk is in forgetting that it is above all the company – in particular the research and development (R&D) department – that is responsible for product innovation. You must not think that the consumer can replace this function. Ideally, good co-creation is a symbiotic relationship with synergy between marketing and R&D departments and the consumer,” says Eric Vernette. Co-creation is the source of ideas which nourish the innovation process, which in-turn must continue to be run by the company.


4. Co-creation seen strictly as a trend to follow is inevitably going to fail.

Today, companies are excited not only about the fact that consumers have ideas, but that they are also capable of co-producing, to make well-performing ads, or even develop products.” However, certain companies are joining the co-creation movement simply because it is the latest managerial trend: “This fad is a little scary. I think that if the company is just going to take part ust because it is trendy, co- creation will not work. On the other hand, if there is a real approach, if there is an exchange with a group of consumers and not just any group of consumers, then it’s really a win-win situation. For companies, the 4 important questions to ask are: How do you choose “good” co-producers? How do you integrate co- creation into management? How could co-creation renew the value chain? How can you share value from co-creation with different stakeholders?” says Professor Vernette.


5. Start progressively.

Companies that want to get started with co-creation have every reason to do a first test just to experiment and learn from this new strategic process: “before dedicating oneself entirely, these companies should associate themselves with experts in the field, like eYeka – and also turn to academic researchers who work on the subject. We can start progressively by doing a first test and then, after correcting the aim, go for the kill!” concludes Eric Vernette.

More: Check Eric Vernette’s blog: http://consommateurinfluenceur.blogspot.com/



About indre

As Marketing & Evangelization Manager, Indre was one of the thinking heads of eYeka, and allowed us to be on the forefront of co-creation and Innovation topics. Indre studied sociology and communication, is a keen jazz musician, and now works in qualitative market research in Paris.
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