Unilever, a giant in FMCG, is establishing online communities for several of its brands. Their main aim is encouraging web users to contribute their ideas to the development of new products (Charlotte 2010). The company conducted its wide-ranging trials on the co-creation approach. Unilever is developing better approaches for all its products and supporting the co0creation idea. (Roland 2009). Unilever has also launched the “co-creation” online community with an aim of encouraging women to buy its brands. The community site ‘Mind bubble’, aims at women aged 25 to 50-years invited to discuss and collaborate new products and marketing projects exchanging it for cash remuneration. Ana Medeiros, market insight director at Unilever, said the co-creation idea proved to be “effective for Unilever in cost and time”. This has been a spot-on in terms of developing creativity and enhancing the evolvement of new products (Charlotte 2010).
With the introduction of Web 2.0, Unilever believes that consumers have their own voice. This creates an opportunity for Unilever to initiate their creativity and express them while they become more apparent (Stephen 2010). The customers no longer perceive themselves as passive respondents only when it comes to the relationship with various brands but very active and full of confidence to develop their creativity regardless of the producer’s consent. It does not matter whether the customers have the invitation from the producers or not, they are exploiting the field fairly than before. With this mind, Unilever feel that they have a burden in their operations. Rather than going against the consumers demand or shying away from their inflicted challenges, it is now apparent that they have embraced Co-creation (Andrew 2008). In realizing this, Unilever advertisers support the co-creation idea. They have come up with better approaches to make it effective in all lines of advertising. (Stephen 2010).
Unilever feels that the need to debate this issue is dire because there is a change in the marketing industry. Time is far much gone and the days of print media is gone. The introduction of online marketing has brought in many changes that forces even producers to change. A statement fro David Cousin, one of the marketing managers at Unilever, said, "looking at the new happenings online, it is not only with the social networks, the individual consumer has developed a voice over what he wants and how he wants it as it never was in the olden days, apparently, brands have to listen more." This issue surpasses all misunderstandings in the marketing industry and it brings in a solution to the far-fetched customer say in innovation of products (Andrew 2008).
For so many years, the customer has been a subject of exploitation with production of low quality products. This has let down the advertising market and many businesses have fallen into trouble after customers reject their products and prefer others only because of stupid mistakes of low quality supplies (Stephen 2010). Therefore, the co-creation idea should be a highlight in the debates involving marketing agencies. It will factor in the customers say over what affects him and how he would want it solved for maximum satisfaction (Charlotte 2010). It is now apparent that even for the brand that wants to sideline itself from customers in the level of production, it will have to comply with the co-creation is it has to succeed in the high competitive field (Roland 2009).
Out of the introduction of the internet, the customer has been enlightened. It has created a new revolution of research. Consumers now do not believe everything that advertisers say because they have been victims of fraudulent adverts. They are getting more information from the internet and doing research more on the products (Stephen 2010). Woe unto the producers who do not give customers a chance to review products in their respective websites, they are losing millions of profits through a shift of customers to other brand. Therefore, it still insists that the co-creation aspect needs to be a highlight in the current discussions within the marketing field (Stephen 2010).
With eight weeks, it is possible to come up with the study to reveal the co-creation effect in the marketing field for Unilever. What is required is a good plan to help Unilever get the information.
Week 1: prepare for the research by getting the relevant materials and equipments needed
Week 2: carry out literature review on already written materials regarding co-creation
Week 3: carry out online research on sites that already apply co-creation
Week 4: carry out interviews on managers from respective advertising agencies regarding their perception on co-creation
Week 5: carry out interviews on customers on the issue of co-creation
Week 6: use questionnaire to get information from customers and their perceptions regarding this issue
Week 7: evaluate the success of co-creation in the rooted companies
Week 8: conduct analysis of the data collected from respective methods and do the analysis
There are so many theories that would be relevant in undertaking this study. This is similar to a marketing research therefore; it will involve theories that touch on customers and producers in terms of their behavior and reception of new ideas. Extended Self-Theory is one of the best marketing theories to use in the research on co-creation. It stipulates that possessions reflect the true identify of the respective possessor, and therefore, the possessions relatively contribute to that individual identity (Hunt 2002). It argues that understanding these possessions regarding the meaning in them by the individual purchaser is very important. Another great theory that can apply relatively well in co-creation research is that Stakeholder theory (Stephen 2010). This theory embraces the fact that a stakeholder is always significant and has an input to the success of an innovation. It goes against any exception of a stakeholder regardless of the position he holds or the influence he has in the innovation success. A guarantee from the theories is the issue of supporting customer’s involvement. They can be ideal in analyzing how the customer applies in co-creation scenario and the benefits of adopting this approach (Hunt 2002).