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Co-creation strategies: Innovation together with customers (19CBA25839)

General information






S semester

ECTS Credits:


Teaching Staff:

Group Teacher Department Language
Nicholas Jonathan Ind Marketing ENG


This course aims to help students to understand how brands can innovate collaboratively together with their customers and other stakeholders to achieve profitable sustainable growth.

After completion of the course, students will be ready to manage a co-creation project in any professional organization.

Moreover, they will get the strategic mindset required to build a portfolio of innovations and brands that reinforce each other, adding relevant value for the customers and the organization.

Finally, students will also develop the leadership skills and competences that managers need in the current open, collaborative, digital business environment.

Course Learning Objectives

Innovation is the key driver for sustained profitable growth in any organization. However, most of of the traditional market research tecniques and tools used in innovation funnels have very important limitations. Additionally, the traditional inside-out approach to innovation produces low returns on investment. Moreover, most of the companies don't know how to build a succesful innovation strategy and a balanced portfolio of innovations.

This is why organizations need to adopt more open and collaborative approaches to innovation capable of increasing the return on their investments. They also need to know how to build a strategic portfolio of innovations that adequately balances the different innovation typologies (category creations, renovations, and line extensions) and that fosters sustained profitable growth.

This is a very strategic course that aims to focus on how brands can innovate collaboratively together with their customers and other stakeholders to achieve higher returns on investment. Co-creation allows companies to become truly customer centric and to build and develop, together with their customers, new valuable products and services. The course also emphasizes the importance of building a strategic portfolio of innovations capable of fueling sustained profitable growth.

The key learning objectives from the course will be:

- To comprehend what co-creation is and how it differs from other research and innovation methods, as well as from other collaborative approaches to creativity.

- To learn how to manage the different key phases of a co-creation project: set-up, warm-up, exploration, ideation, development, and launch.

- To understand how to conduct ethnography and netnography, as they are both very interesting methods that can enrich the exploration stage of co-creation.

- Upon completing this course, participants will also comprehend which the key barriers to co-creation are and how to overcome them.

- Another central objective will be to understand how to develop a supportive corporate culture so that co-creation can flourish and an authentic customer centric organization arises.

- During the course participants will progressively develop the leadership traits that co-creation requires.

- Within the sphere of innovation, participants will also be able to comprehend which the different innovation typologies are, the value that they can bring to an organization and how they can benefit from co-creation.

- Finally, participants will also understand how to align the firm's open innovation strategy with the growth and product portfolio strategies. This strategic corporate alignment is the key to sustained profitable growth to any organization.


1. Introduction to co-creation

To understand the main changes in the environment that are challenging the marketing function, but also allowing co-creation to emerge.

To get familiarized with the concept and scope of ethnographic research and to learn how to conduct ethnographic and netnographic research. Both are research methods used in co-creation projects.

This concept of `co-creation¿ suggests an active, creative and social process based on collaboration between organizations and customers, but also between organizations and other stakeholders, that creates value to the customers and stakeholders and generates profits to the organization. The course will look at the underlying principles of co-creation and will show how online communities and offline collaborative events can be used to develop new ideas and new marketing approaches. The course will investigate how more open approaches to innovation can reduce risk and create more productive ideas, while delivering benefits such as meaning-making and socialization for consumers.

Session topics:

¿ The emergence of co-creation.
¿ Ethnography.
¿ Netnography

2. Managing a co-creation initiative

To comprehend what co-creation is and how to manage a co-creation project.

Session topics:
Demarcating co-creation from crowdsourcing, mass-customization, mass collaboration and user generated content.
Defining co-creation.
Students¿ will be introduced into the different phases that need to be managed to successfully conduct a co-creation project: (1) set-up, (2) warm-up, (3) exploration, (4) ideation, (5) development, and (6) launch.

3. Big Talk Event

To understand how to conduct a Big Talk Event - a presential co-creation workshop.

The students will first be provided with the necessary training and, based on it, will then need to manage a real co-creation workshop with customers. This co-creation session will last 4 hours and will be entirely managed by teams of students.

4. Unlocking the potential from co-creation

To understand how to move from an approach to co-creation as a tactical market research tool, to another that conceives it as strategic dynamic capability that generates a sustainable competitive advantage.

The session will discuss which the key barriers to the realization of the full potential of co-creation are and how to overcome them. This is not only about building the appropriate organizational structure, but mostly about fostering a supportive corporate culture. And, in order to achieve this, managers need also to create within the organization a sense of urgency to become customer oriented and to build a customer centric organization.

Session topics:
The co-creation continuum
Co-creation as a market research tool vs co-creation as a strategic dynamic capability
Barriers to co-creation
Key success factors (organizational culture, organizational structure, and leadership style).

5. The service innovation challenge

To present the service innovations developed together with the online co-creation community and to discuss/learn how they managed the process.

The students will need to develop in a week a relevant innovation for a given service category by leading and managing a co-creation project.


The course will create an environment based on experiential learning, which will help students to integrate the pedagogic objectives previously presented. The sessions will combine the following learning tools:

* Lectures that will provide the basic theoretical frameworks to approach every topic, and additional readings to further develop each of these course topics.

* Guest speakers, who will transfer part of their knowledge through their personal experiences.

* Final assignment: Team project where the students will need to develop an innovation in a service ecosystem using co-creation.

Assessment criteria


* Final assignment - The service innovation challenge (70%). The students will need to develop in a week a relevant innovation for a given service category by managing a co-creation project that should integrate the findings from ethnography and netnography, an online community and a BigTalk event. The final grade will be weighted individually based on the peer review.

* Individual participation in class (30%).

Participation will be assessed based not only on quantity, but mostly on the quality of the contributions. In this regard, it is expected that contributions will add value to the class discussion and it will be especially rewarded that they build on the ideas previously shared by your colleagues and move the discussion forward.

As well as acquiring new customers, companies increasingly recognize the importance of retaining and developing the customers they have. Consequently service becomes ever more fundamental both as a means of differentiating brands (both products and services) and in securing future cash flows. However service is also expensive, so companies are pushing towards digitalizing their interactions with customers and in turn customers are becoming more willing to serve themselves. The challenge here is twofold. First, companies need to ensure that there is a consistent quality of experience for customers across all touchpoints - both digital and physical. Second, companies need to find new and innovative ways to deliver service.

Students will be asked to conduct a service innovation for a given brand and product category by developing a project based on co-creation, a BigTalk event, ethnography and netnography, using also an online co-creation community



* Ind, N., Fuller, C. and Trevail, C. (2012) Brand Together: How co-creation generates innovation and re-energizes brands. London: Kogan Page.

* Ind, N.; Iglesias, O. and Schultz, M. (2013) Building brands together. Emergence and outcomes of co-creation. California Management Review.

* Kotter, J. P. (2012). Accelerate!. How the most innovative companies capitalize on today's rapid-fire strategic challenges and still make their numbers. Harvard Business Review: November, 44-58.

* Li, C. (2010) Open leadership: Mind-sets and traits. In: Open Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Timetable and sections

Group Teacher Department
Nicholas Jonathan Ind Marketing