July 31, 2014

Customer motives as online co-creation partners: a research paper

The discussion about innovation engaging the customer as co-creator (often described by terms like co-innovation, crowdsourcing, peer production customer, crowd-based outsourcing etc) is not new to many of us. One of the new and interesting aspects of co-creation is engaging customers in co-creation process using online tools (and social media in particular) as interaction platforms. There are several issues to be addressed here, one of them is finding the best persons / customers and get them on board. Motivations of customers to engaged in such processes are of vital importance. This was the topic of our latest research paper (co-authored by Carlota Lorenzo-Romero and Leonine Brünink) titled "Customer Motives and Benefits for Participating in Online Co-Creation Activities". The article that was accepted and will be published soon in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and advertising  attempts to give an answer to this issue. Based on a survey conducted among 239 young Internet users in Holland and Germany the factors described in the Uses and Gratifications Theory (and tested earlier by Nambisan, S., & Baron, R. A. (2009) for "traditional co-creation). We tested whether the benefits described int the Uses and Gratifications Theory (i.e. Personal Integrative Benefits, Hedonic Benefits, Social Integrative Benefits and Learning Benefits) are motivators for online co-creation and this seems to be the case. We  found out that about 28% of the participants have taken part in co-creation activities with businesses online, something in line with findings of our previous research.  We also identified two profiles of online co-innovators and found that males and Dutch are in general more motivated than females and Germans to participate in such activities. The differences based on ethnicity might have to do with the fact (and this is a personal observation) that in the Netherlands there are more opportunities for online co-creation activities than in Germany. With some caution for generalizations due to the sampling method we think that this study provides some
For those interested the abstract of the paper below:

The widespread adoption of Web 2.0 applications, commonly known as Social Media, has brought about a new generation of empowered customers. Empowered customers are well-informed, knowledgeable and certain about their specific product and service needs; they are often willing to share their experiences, product knowledge and innovative ideas with producers, providing input for new product designs and enhancements. Such customer attitudes often labelled as co-creation, are forcing many companies to step away from the traditional firm-centric view of innovation and take a more customer-centric view by actively integrating customers’ ideas and knowledge in their new product and service development processes. Co-creation presents businesses with an interesting challenge: how to identify and recruit the innovative customers who willing to cooperate and share their knowledge as the basis for successful online co-creation activities.
This study identifies the various motivators for customers to participate in online co-creation. Based on the uses and gratification approach a pilot questionnaire is employed and its practical applicability is tested. The results indicate that customer participation in co-creation projects is motivated by four distinct types of benefits and  that co-creators differ in their motivational level. Finally, recommendations on how to adapt the questionnaire for future research and suggestions for further research issues are provided. 


Nambisan, S., & Baron, R. A. (2009). Virtual customer environments: Testing a model of voluntary participation in value co-creation activities, Journal of Product Innovation Management, 26(4), 388–406.

Constantinides E., Brünink L., Lorenzo-Romero C., 2014, Customers Motives and Benefits for Participating in Online Co-Creation Activities, International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising (forthcoming).