Marketing: Cooperation with Customers

Introduction

Modern businesses tend to become more customer-oriented; this is one of the reasons why they involve clients in the design of the products. This practice is called co-creation, which means that users are able to express various opinions about the qualities that a product should have (Bhala 2010, p. 106). To some degree, this tendency is reflected in the marketing campaigns of companies that want to emphasise the idea that customers are able to shape the development of the product.

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Therefore, they try to emphasise the power that customers can acquire. This paper is aimed at examining the way in which cooperation with customers influences the marketing strategies of modern companies. Moreover, it is important to discuss the extent to which this strategy reflects the contemporary cultural trends, especially post-modernism which lays stress on the decentralisation of decision-making, Apart from that, it is critical to show how this trend manifests itself in different regions of the world. These are the main questions that should be examined more closely.

This discussion will be important for understanding the way in which marketing can evolve in the future. On the whole, it is possible to argue that co-creation and crowd-sourcing are important for modifying and improving existing products. Moreover, this tendency will have a significant influence on the marketing strategies of many businesses. In this way, they can make customers feel more empowered, and this experience is important for attracting clients. These are the main points that can be made.

New trends in production and marketing

Overall, modern companies attempt to become less centralised. They strive to involve employees and clients in the desiccation-making. To a great extent, this transformation reflects such a trend as post-modernism. This cultural movement transformed various aspects of human activities, including marketing.

Overall, one of the main principles of this cultural framework is that people should be able to take part in the “co-production of meaning” (O’Reilly, Rentschler, & Kirchner 2013, p. 381). They should not be only the passive recipients of information (Fırat, Sherry, & Venkatesh 1994). As a rule, such concepts as co-production and co-creation are applied to the interpretation of artistic, literary, or cinematographic works. Nevertheless, this idea has also been applied to the development of products.

Researchers note that during the first decade of the twenty-first century, many businesses changed their perception of clients (Prahalad & Ramaswamy 2000, p. 80). In particular, they are now often viewed as an inseparable part of the company’s environment. Additionally, they can be regarded as co-developers whose opinions are valued by managers.

To some degree, this trend can be explained by the growing efficiency of Web 2.0. These online tools enable customers to generate and share content with greater ease (Belk & Lamas 2013, p. 15). As a result, customers and businesses have more opportunities for interacting with one another. This is one of the reasons why the cooperation between clients and businesses has become much more popular in various industries, even those ones which were not initially related to information technology.

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It should be noted that the growing popularity of crowd-sourcing can be partly explained by the development of online technologies that enable people to interact with one another, even though they can be located in different countries (Parnell & Oldfield, 2014, p. 243).

Overall, this phenomenon can be defined as the transfer of a business process to an unspecified group of people who respond to the company’s call for assistance (Laksic & Rakocevic 2012, p. 150). Sometimes, they can take part in brainstorming and offer solutions to many problems which can be related to design. Nevertheless, this approach has also been useful attracting clients who want to participate in the improvement of a product. These are some of the main details that should be considered.

Additionally, it is vital to focus on such a notion as co-creation. It can be defined as the partnership of businesses and clients in an effort to create mutual benefits. In particular, clients can receive products that can better meet their needs. In their turn, businesses can increase their revenues by attracting a greater number of potential users. The main advantage of this approach is that it gives customers more opportunities for acting as decision-makers. This is one of the opportunities that greatly appeals to them.

Overall, this emphasis on the interactions with clients has significant economic implications. For example, one can mention that the revenue of crowd-sourcing providers has increased by more than 130 million during the period between 2009 and 2011 (Markowitz 2013). Thus, it is necessary to illustrate this trend by looking at the specific cases of such partnership.

The integration of co-creation in integrated marketing communications

It is possible to provide several examples of IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) campaigns which can illustrate the relevance of this strategy to many modern companies. It should be noted that the term IMC implies that a company attempts to make sure that marketing channels reinforce one another (Percy 2008, p. 6).

Moreover, this principle means that businesses focus on such aspects as public relations, organizational culture, advertising, product development, pricing, and promotion (Percy 2008, p. 6). Each of these marketing elements should clearly tell what kind of value a company can bring to consumers (Percy 2008, p. 6). In this way, organisations want to make their marketing messages more convincing. Moreover, this approach is supposed to create a certain image of the company or the impression that it strives to produce on the potential clients. This is one of the issues that should be considered.

Many businesses currently try to emphasize the idea that they involve customers in the design. For instance, one can mention the strategy adopted by an Italian car manufacturer Fiat. This organisation encourages users to take part in the design of new vehicles. This is one of the reasons why this company implements a campaign called Fiat 500 Wants You (Fiat Group 2013).

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In particular, the users are able to present their vision of this car. It should be noted that these people can submit their sketches, and some of them will eventually be considered by manufacturers (Fiat Group 2013). Some of these sketches can be viewed as unrealistic or futuristic or even unrealistic; yet, many of them are eventually reflected in the final design. This approach enables the company to build closer relationships with potential clients.

Additionally, these people could suggest what kind of accessories could be included. Furthermore, the manufacturers lay stress on the idea that this model can be customised. In particular, they can choose from a variety of decals, interior trims, body colours, wheel options, and so forth. In turn, the price of the product also depends on the choices that clients take.

Additionally, the company releases various videos shows that the new model of Fiat has been partly designed by customers. These messages are supposed to demonstrate that the company is willing to co-operate with clients. Moreover, they are described as powerful stakeholders who can influence the practices of a company. These are some of the main details that should be considered while analyzing this marketing campaign.

Apart from that, one can mention the IMC implemented by Ford Motor Company. This corporation involves enthusiasts who can make valuable recommendations about the design of their vehicles. Many of these people are long-term customers of this company, and they can tell the designers about the strengths or weaknesses of Ford vehicles. Moreover, they can suggest changes that should be implemented.

Furthermore, this organisation has changed its approach to commercials. In particular, one of its advertisement has been filmed by people who used the new models of Ford. This project has been called the Random Acts of Fusion (Annfera 2013). The main peculiarity of this approach is that the users can better demonstrate various qualities of the new car. Therefore, clients take part in the co-creation of both products as well as commercials. These are some of the main aspects that can be identified.

It should be noted that currently, the management of Ford pays more attention to the needs of clients (O’Guinn, Allen, & Semenik 2011, p. 50). They are no longer described as the recipients of products and services. They make extensive use of information technologies that can help clients interact with the company (Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group 2007). In particular, they can help users to customize the vehicles that they intend to purchase. To a great extent, such practices can be similar to co-creation because consumers can modify a product that they intend to buy. Therefore, this corporation has been able to benefit from this trend.

It should be noted that this strategy is adopted a variety of companies who represent various sectors of the economy. For instance, one can mention such a brand as Lay’s that produces various potato chips. This company implements a campaign known as Do us a flavour (Lay’s 2014). They encourage customers to make recommendations about new chips that can be created by the company.

This campaign is reflected in various commercials of the company. Additionally, the management regularly stresses the idea that their customers are influential stakeholders who shape various operations of this company. Thus, the IMC campaign of this company is aimed at showing that customers’ views are of great importance to the management. This is the main idea that they want to convey.

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These cases illustrate the way in which the notion of co-creation can be integrated into the IMC of various businesses. This approach enables the business to emphasise the idea that customer’s opinions do shape the decisions of managers. Moreover, it is possible to argue this approach has been adopted by businesses that may represent different industries. It is critical to remember that during less than a decade, this trend has influenced various companies that did not try to engage customers in the past.

Therefore, one can suppose that in the future, this tendency will become even more widespread. In turn, one can also argue that post-modernism affected the way in which businesses and clients interact with one another. Moreover, one can say that this empowerment of clients will become a part of the marketing campaigns adopted by various businesses. It should be kept in mind that this approach appeals to many people who want to see that their opinions and contributions are valued by businesses.

The use of co-creation in different regions of the world

Additionally, it is possible to discuss the use of this strategy in different regions of the world. For instance, one can compare Asian companies to their western counterparts. One can say that Asian producers are willing to involve users in the creation of new products (Klososky 2010, p 136). At present, two out of five people working in crowd-sourcing marketing are located in Asia (Klososky 2010, p 136).

Nevertheless, one cannot say that Asian manufacturers are more willing to adopt this strategy. Admittedly, there is numerous crowd-sourcing website that enables Asian people to take part in the production of various goods. Moreover, such companies as Toyota or Sony do involve students. However, there are more cases illustrating the achievements of western businesses.

Moreover, this cooperation is not often reflected in the marketing campaigns of Asian businesses. One will be able to say that Asian producers are ahead of their western counterparts if the value of their products manufactured with the help of co-creation will be significantly larger in comparison with the output of their western businesses. Moreover, this policy should be reflected in the IMC campaigns of Asian companies. This is one of the points that can be made.

Discussion

Admittedly, one should not forget that some companies do not rely too strongly on the use of co-creation. For example, it is possible to mention such an Apple at the time Steve Jobs was its CEO. The work of this corporation was partly based on the principle that the organisation should strive to create breakthrough products that have not been envisioned before (Bhala 2010). This approach implied that cooperation with clients could lead only to the modification of already-existing products, but it cannot lead to new technologies.

In turn, their approach to manufacturing and marketing minimized the use of co-creation. This is one of the exceptions that should not be disregarded because it shows that for some businesses, co-creation is not the most suitable approach. Nevertheless, this rejection of co-creation is not very widespread because businesses often need to improve many of the existing products. In fact, these activities are also critical to the sustainability of many businesses. This is one of the arguments that can be made.

Conclusion

Thus, the examples provided in this paper indicate that post-modernism has transformed the way in which companies and clients interact with one another. In particular, customers cannot be perceived only as passive consumers of products that are imposed on them. In particular, this paradigm is now rejected by many businesses. More likely, they can be viewed as the co-creators of products. By relying on this strategy, many businesses can better engage clients since these people want to feel that their opinions are taken into account by the management. As a rule, these people value empowerment. These are the main aspects that can be identified.

References

Annfera, R 2013, Ford Channels Real Tweets Into “Random Acts of Fusion”

Campaign, Web.

Belk, R & Lamas, R 2013, The Routledge Companion to Digital Consumption, Routledge, New York.

Bhala, G 2010, Collaboration and Co-creation: New Platforms for Marketing and Innovation, Springer Science & Business Media, New York.

Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group 2007, Ford’s Innovative Customer

Relations Programs Increase Owner Satisfaction and Promise 20 Percent Reduction in Annual Savings, Web.

Fiat Group 2013, The Fiat 500 and the communication behind it, Web.

Fırat, A, Sherry, J, & Venkatesh, A1994, ‘Postmodernism, Marketing and the Consumer’, International Journal of Research in Marketing, vol. 11 no. 4, pp. 311–16.

Laksic, M & Rakocevic, S 2012 Proceedings of the XIII International Symposium SymOrg 2012: Innovative Management and Business Performance, FON, New York.

Lay’s 2014, Do us a flavor, Web.

Klososky, S 2010, Enterprise Social Technology: Helping Organizations Harness the Power of Social Media, Social Networking, Social Relevance, Greenleaf Book Group, New York.

Markowitz, E 2013, Crowdsourcing: Still Trying to Live Up to the Hype, Web.

O’Guinn, T, Allen, C, & Semenik, R 2011, Advertising and Integrated Brand Promotion, Cengage Learning, New York.

Parnell, S & Oldfield, S 2014, The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South, Routledge, New York.

Percy, L 2008, Strategic Integrated Marketing Communication: Theory and Practice, Routledge, New York.

Prahalad, C & Ramaswamy. P 2000 ‘Co-opting Customer Competence’ Harvard Business Review, vol. 1 no. 2, pp. 79-82.

O’Reilly, D, Rentschler, R, & Kirchner, T 2013, The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing, Routledge, New York.

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