Co-creation: From marketing buzzword to business tool

Annika Vølding Dilling-Hansen & Mie Louise Hedegaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis aim is to investigate the concept of co-creation, and whether it is possible to derive a typology and guidelines, for how companies should act when using co-creation. Furthermore, the aim is to investigate how different companies use co-creation. The research is guided by the research questions: How do companies engage in co-creation, and how can this insight contribute to an in-depth understanding of co-creation in order to outline a framework of co-creation? What managerial implication can be derived from the use of co-creation? In order to answer the research question, the research take its starting point in an extensive literature review, revealing the historical development of co-creation as well as making the gap in the research, evident. In researching and collecting data we use the social constructivist paradigm as a starting point. Further, empirical data is collected through 11 semi-structured in-depth interviews with practitioners and academics in the field of co-creation, as well as case companies using co-creation. The interview insights derived, is among others which cases that are interesting to look at, when analyzing co-creation. These are identified to be: Coloplast, Arla,, Nike, Asda, and LEGO. The cases are analyzed and compared based on eight parameters of co-creation defined through interview insights. The parameters are: consumer influence, consumer scope, openness, transparency, scope, company values, time frame, and branding value. The analysis generates six illustrations, in the form of “equalizers”, that show how each case works with co-creation. Branding values is used as a benchmark in the analysis, as it is assumed that companies aim to achieve a high branding value. The analysis established that time frame, consumer influence, transparency, and scope had a relation to branding value, whereas scope had no relation. With openness and company values a relationship could not be determined based on the comparison, however, their importance to co-creation cannot be neglected. Further, different approaches to co-creation made it possible to see patterns and thereby develop a typology with six different types of co-creation. The types were identified to be: Guided influence, Idea Generation, Shared-ownership co-creation, Full-circle co-creation, User-driven innovation, and Brand Community co-creation. The six types of co-creation together with the eight parameters, essential to co-creation, constitute our attempt to propose a detailed framework for co-creation. Additional, to this specific and detailed framework managerial implications were derived, the most important being to consider how much influence the customers should have, how many levels they should be involved in, and how much of the company that should be involved in the process. Furthermore, a company should also be open-minded and find an appropriate level of control.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages170