Academics don’t publish things managers can apply. Right? Err, Wrong…….
Whilst waiting for a client yesterday I picked up New Media Age (18th November 2010). The front cover was titled “Brands invest in online co-creation”. The last word caught my eye. The article outlined how leading brands such as Dell, Unilever and New Look are try to engage customers in the early stages of product and marketing planning. In other words, brands don’t want to do things to but with their customers. The logic being; get customers involved, they feel a part of the process, this involvement intensifies brand loyalty and so increases the likelihood of purchase after launch (not to mention being marvellous word-of-mouth machines!). Logical and useful. Right?
The interesting point is this. The article gave the impression co-creation is quite new. Something visionary, innovative, dare I say ground breaking. Practitioners don’t generally tend to associate such adjectives with our bearded, spectacle wearing friends commonly referred to as academics. However, (and playing Devil’s Advocate here) the idea of co-creation, or more precisely, “co-creating value” has been on the academic radar for some time now. It’s the cornerstone of an emerging marketing perspective or paradigm which has been embraced by many in academic circles with almost zealous fervour. This paradigm, The Service Dominant Logic, burst onto the academic scene after Robert Lusch and Stephen Vargo published an award winning article in the Journal of Marketing back in 2004 that highlighted, amongst other things, the importance of co-creating value.
So what? Well, it means academics do play a role in the advancement of marketing knowledge. They have something to say which has value. We should listen. It’s true academic language can be a bit dry, convoluted or down right difficult to understand. This can make academics’ work inaccessible. My point is this. Keep an ear to the ground when you’re next listening to that bearded, spectacle wearing Professor. He may just have a nugget of information that could give you a few years on your competitors – not to mention leading brands such as Dell, Unilever and New Look. Not such a bad application of academic thinking after all?