Post-Purchase Co-Creation: Consumer Segmentation in Consumer-Driven Collaborative Product Development

Keith Marion Smith, John Hulland, and Andrew Stephen, 2017, 17-115

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Product co-creation (or collaborative product development) has become increasingly popular among firms in pre-release contexts, such as crowdsourced idea generation and open source product development. Yet few firms have explored post-purchase co-creation, or the modification of existing products following purchase. Customer engagement in post-purchase co-creation raises interesting questions regarding the impact of traditional marketing actions and customer brand communities on customer consumption patterns amongst different segments of the installed product base. Thus, a better understanding of post-purchase co-creation may provide firms with unique levers to influence product consumption and purchase.

In this report, Keith Marion Smith, John Hulland, and Andrew Stephen investigate post-purchase co-creation communities and consumption patterns of software products. The authors propose a segmentation model based on co-creation activity and investigate a complex set of influences on consumption across the different segments.

Utilizing automated online data collection techniques, product co-creation activities following the purchase of a product were observed. Integrating product co-creation activity, community engagement activity, and individual level product consumption activity over 32 weeks, the authors use a dynamic segmentation model to study post-purchase co-creation.

Among their findings:

  • Three distinct segments of co-creation participation exist: Co-creation Creators, Co-creation Consumers, and Core Product Users.
  • Co-creation Creators are motivated by interaction and communication with likeminded Creators, but not other Creators’ co-creation activity, nor interaction with the Co-creation Consumer community.
  • Co-creation Consumers are self-focused on their own behavior and relatively insensitive to the community, despite the fact they rely on Creators to generate content for consumption.
  • Core Consumers are influenced by Co-creation Consumer community activity, suggesting that despite their lack of participation, they may listen to, and act upon trends within the community.
  • Product promotions influence Co-creation Creators and Core Consumers to consume the product more, despite the fact that all individuals have already purchased the product, providing interesting support for the role of post-sale promotions.
  • Co-creation media coverage negatively influences Core Consumer consumption.

Managers need to recognize that Co-Creation Creators and Co-Creation Consumers comprise a disproportionate percentage of total consumption, and may respond to different motivators than traditional Core Consumers. Management of both segments may be best achieved through maintenance of a healthy community and through motivation of the Co-Creation Creator segment, either by providing software tools or through co-creation incentives. Furthermore, promotions appear to effectively motivate product consumption even post-purchase.

Keith Marion Smith is Assistant Professor of Marketing, D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University. John Hulland is Emily H. and Charles M. Tanner, Jr. Chair in Sales Management and Professor of Marketing, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia. Andrew Stephen is L’Oréal Professor of Marketing, Said Business School, University of Oxford.

The authors wish to thank the Marketing Science Institute and the University of Georgia for their gracious financial support of this research, and Scott Thompson for valuable research methodology feedback and suggestions.



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