Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Digital Strategies of Consumer Involvement and Innovation Dynamics: A Cross-Sector Explorative Study

Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Digital Strategies of Consumer Involvement and Innovation Dynamics: A Cross-Sector Explorative Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

The study aims at exploring the collaborative dynamics between firms and consumers through Web tools. At present, there is limited empirical research aimed at investigating if and how the involvement of consumers in the implementation of open approaches, mediated by digital technologies, is actually implemented. The study presents a recent multifactorial investigation of the topic where literature lacks in. Through the Web-analysis of practices of a sample group of 180 companies operating in different market sectors, the author wants to explore spread and type profiles of collaborative strategies, investigating the existence of a possible correlation with the served markets and other moderator variables. Findings, identifying a 'spectrum' of engagement and co-creation mechanisms, suggest forms of aggregation and profiling in the approach followed by the firms and illustrate how the characteristics of virtual spaces allow them to explore new frontiers in the implementation of open approaches, with different degrees of involvement.

Keywords: co-creation, consumer insight, empirical research, open innovation (OI), virtual integration

1. Introduction

Existing academic literature suggests a significant potential of collaboration with consumers in the process of market value creation through ICTs (von Hippel, 2001; von Hippel & Katz, 2002; Sawhney, Verona, & Prandelli, 2005; Prandelli, Verona, & Raccagni, 2006; Bilgram, Brem, & Voigt, 2008; Füller & von Hippel, 2008; Prandelli, Sawhney, & Verona, 2008; Füller, Muhlbacher, Matzler, & Jawecki, 2009; Morgan & Wang, 2010). Considerable attention has been given to the benefits offered by the advent of digital technologies: low-cost interaction; increase in the speed and duration of the engagement process; easier sharing processes if compared to what can be done offline, where dynamics are limited to contexts of physical closeness (Dahan & Hauser, 2002; Afuah, 2003). The importance of collaborating with consumers in the development of innovative products and services has been recognised for many years and there has been a steady proliferation of studies on this topic (von Hippel, 1976, 1978, 1986, 1988; Grönross, 1990; Day, 1991; Bruce, Leverick, Littler, & Wilson, 1995; Gales & Mansour-Cole, 1995; Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004a; Vargo & Lusch, 2004). However, it is only recently that the attention given to collaborative approaches, based on the emergence of a new creative consumer (Berthon, Pitt, McCarthy, & Kates, 2007; Berthon, Campbell, Pitt, & McCarthy, 2011; Jespersen, 2011; Page & Pitt, 2011; Cova & Cova, 2012), has grown exponentially. This area of research has been given new impetus especially by the rapid growth of the Web, a powerful platform to access external and distributed knowledge. Also, this new perspective is central in open-business innovation (Chesbrough, 2003, 2006, 2011) and in network-centric innovation (NCI) (Nambisan & Sawhney, 2007) models. These approaches emphasise the need to continuously experiment around value creation and encourage companies to open up to new ideas coming from the outside, combining them with in-house ones.

However, the topic, from an empirical point of view, appears to be currently under-explored. There is still little work done to explore if and how consumer engagement processes, mediated by digital technologies, are actually implemented. In particular, while some studies are carried out within specific industries (e.g., Füller, Jawecki, & Muhlbacher, 2007, on athletic footwear; Kim, Bae & Kang, 2008, on MP3 players and mobile phone handsets in Korea; Garcia Martinez, 2013, on food products) literature lacks a cross-sector and multi-factorial investigation of the topic which relies on recent data and not limited to a specific geographic market. The topic deserves particular attention given the new opportunities that virtual environments offer: the challenge for firms is to transform new interaction opportunities into added value. …

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