The Impact of Co Creation in Modern Business

By Julie Choo

Published: January 23, 2024

Last Update: January 23, 2024

How does co-creation redefine business success? This approach invites active collaboration between a company and its stakeholders to innovate and create value. It’s not just a buzzword; co-creation is a strategic necessity in the modern marketplace. Here, we reveal the process behind co-creation, its undeniable benefits, and share success stories from brands that have integrated this model to achieve remarkable results.

Key Takeaways

  • Co-creation is a collaborative strategy that integrates customers and stakeholders into the innovation process, improving productivity, reducing costs, and creating competitive advantages through unique experiences.
  • Successful application of co-creation in businesses like Anheuser-Busch, Apple, Amazon, Google, Ikea, LEGO, DeWalt, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and DHL and the many famous startups that have transformed into unicorns, has led to the development of products closely aligned with customer needs, fostering community engagement and customer loyalty. Co-creation is the startup-way for digital transformation.
  • For co-creation to be effective, companies must create cultures that encourage employee and customer involvement via digital platforms and align stakeholder interests to facilitate direct interactions and innovation. Co-creation is Human Centered Design (HCD) in practice in the real world.

The Essence of Co-Creation

The essence of co-creation involving the different personnel required in the co-creation process, such as customers, stakeholders and employees.

Co-creation has emerged in the last ten years as a revolutionary strategy for businesses. Instead of solely focusing on their own position, co-creation prioritizes the entire ecosystem and encourages active participation from customers and other stakeholders to design new value chains that benefit everyone involved. Some may question why engaging in co-creation initiatives is necessary.

There are numerous benefits to embracing co-creation processes. These include increased productivity, reduced costs, exploration of new business models, and gaining a competitive edge through unique interactions and experiences that are difficult for competitors to replicate. But it’s not just about the company or its direct stakeholders, significant emphasis is also placed on considering the experiences of all parties involved throughout the process.

The focus during this co-creative approach extends beyond traditional boundaries within a company or specific group – instead emphasizing cooperation among all individuals partaking in creating something together with shared values at its core. Throughout this past decade, research has demonstrated how successful companies’ approaches leverage customers, collaborators, vendors & more “in one coherent system” driving true mutual wins. Now, a radical shift occurs towards leveraging chosen experience by others who play an essential role & exploring these jointly set opportunities so valuable moments can be delivered. This creates longer-lasting impacts & greater potential sustainment. For instance, companies conducting surveys care about users’ experiences but do such survey 3rd party tool ones allow vendors & wider user views alike?

Throughout recent years, the idea of “co creation” emerged as a progressive technique applied while formulation involves being innovative., Companies globally embraced partnering up different players using the same focal point urging them to do the same.

What is Co-Creation?

Co creating with external parties and discussing ideas, stakeholders

The concept of co-creation involves utilizing external parties’ collective intelligence to generate valuable ideas, establishing a mutually beneficial partnership between a company and its stakeholders, and engaging in an ever-evolving exchange of concepts that lead to innovative business models, products, and services. This approach can result in the development of offerings that closely align with consumers’ needs without increasing payroll costs for companies. Additionally, additional information is provided below.

This is the definition of Co-creation in THE STRATEGY JOURNEY book:
‘Co-creation’ is comprised of all the activities to design and test value propositions and Business Models on an ongoing basis with customers, users, and partners, as well as employees supported by technology. It is implemented through service innovation 

“ “ – Choo and Christison.

How does Co-Creation Work?

A digital platform interface showing customer engagement and participation in the co-creation process.

The co-creation process is a collaborative effort involving various stakeholders who contribute uniquely to the innovation and development of new products and services, as well as the upgrading of new product features to ensure continued use, thus building stickiness effects. This includes customers, neighbors, teachers, scientists and even competitors, who are able to submit ideas, give feedback and actively participate in the innovation and development process and as part of the overall digital transformation, led and conducted by a business or organization through its staff and systems.   Co-creation is Human Centered Design (HCD) in practice in the real world, where the 3 dimensions are interacting together to understand the problem as well as resolving it, or creating and adding value together. This is how they find the Problem Sweet Spot. 

The human centered design 'problem' sweet spot, triagram showing what human centered design is about when interacted

Applying Co-Creation

Various techniques incorporating  research methods and digital platforms are utilized during all stages of product development or service innovation in order to involve external parties with internal parties and the value proposition itself, to discover this “problem sweet spot|”. 

In THE STRATEGY JOURNEY book, we list 6 techniques for co-creation that can be applied as part of any digital transformation journey, for product managers, innovators, and even app developers to utilize in their efforts to co-create with customers, users and partners. These techniques focus on capturing data and intelligence about customers and stakeholders, including all of the ‘soft’ or ‘qualitative’ data that comes from practicing Human Centered Design (HCD, while they are interacting with the product or service in question – that is the value proposition.  

6 techniques of Co-creation listed marketing surveys, focus groups, hackathons, mvp protoptyping, pitlot testing, co-created innovation.
Read More on the Strategy Journey eBook

There are numerous  tools that you can use to help you practice or apply co-creation from the very simple such as SurveyMonkey to more complex technologies that incorporate AI such as home speakers from Amazon Alexa to Apple’s Siri and Hello Google.  These different methods of co-creation facilitate the research that plays a crucial role by gathering valuable insights into user needs, which guide the development of innovative solutions.

Research holds great significance in facilitating customer involvement at every stage of the creation process through its ability to gather important data on their preferences and requirements. This direct involvement from customers themselves via idea submissions greatly benefits overall success rates for new innovations that emerge from this inclusive approach.

The Benefits Unlocked by Co-Creation

An image showcasing the implementation of co-creation in diverse industries, demonstrating its versatility and impact.

According to insights from the Harvard Business Review, the practice of co-creation can lead to favorable results when implemented effectively. It has the potential to enhance products, improve financial success, and strengthen customer loyalty for businesses when implemented as part of a company’s strategy and even as part of its operations or within its operating model. 

The publication cites as examples, how Anheuser-Busch’s implementation of a co-creation initiative, led to immediate sales increases. Another example describes how DHL also saw an improvement in their customer service satisfaction scores during COVID and revenue growth from new services through the practice of co-create. In both these examples, co-creation has proven to be highly beneficial in developing improved products that align with customer desires, leading to growth in sales and revenue.

The process of co-creation is not only fruitful for product development but also presents opportunities for discovering unique and unexpected ideas. 

For example, Sodexo was able to introduce robot food delivery as a result of the collective efforts of employees who setup their own platform to collect intelligence and generate innovative ideas, which then led to the company implementing numerous co-creation projects. 

Coca-Cola too applied co-creation by adjusting its strategy based on regional tastes in Southeast Asia through involving customers’ inputs using various forms of collaboration. 

In these examples, co-creation has made product or service improvements to increase stickiness effects and extend customer lifetime value (CLV), as new customers become existing customers who just keep buying more… of what they like. 

They also highlight how important it is to initiate meaningful dialogue using strategic means, such as practicing well-organized idea management processes, to efficiently connect customers and business partners with individual users. 

Co-Creation in Business (Examples)

A business that embraces co-creation.

  • involves stakeholders in its value chain
  • encourages innovative ideas
  • prioritizes customer satisfaction
  • promotes a culture of transparency

It is important to provide a space where all individuals have the opportunity to contribute and be heard when making decisions. 


An example of this can be seen through My Starbucks Idea, which allows customers to share their suggestions and participate in discussions regarding new concepts, promoting an inclusive environment for co-production. Involving employees in the co-creation process has been proven beneficial with significant cost savings and improvements demonstrated by Orange’s IdClic platform.


Another example of this comes from Apple’s IOS Marketplace existing Apple iPhone and iPad users are providing constant feedback and outline their desired new features continuously via the way they use their smartphones as well as the various chat forums for both fans as well as service support. This extends into Social Media platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok where Influencers are demoing products and gathering feedback, where Apple User and Fans are discussing their needs, complaints, and desires, from the next release of any Apple product.


Coca-Cola has effectively involved its customers in their product development process by establishing an authentic environment for feedback on new products. This is how it was able to test and adjust flavors and tailor to local markets as illustrated in our earlier example, to increase its market reach into new regions, through real customer insights.


Another company that has reaped benefits from co-creation efforts is DHL, with a significant reduction of 50% in waiting time for customers resulting in high levels of satisfaction and retention. This highlights how incorporating customer input into the creation process can drive innovation and positively impact a business’s bottom line.

In these examples, it is clear that engaging local communities through collaborations during the concept stage can have significant impacts on fostering strong customer loyalty and community engagement overall. Through activities such as creating together, tapping into fresh perspectives, and recognizing common goals between businesses and communities, a sense of collective ownership can be developed. Moreover, this collaborative effort creates positive connections among members, resulting in stronger relationships and a greater desire to support each other’s success. Creating without boundaries allows for seamless integration between different parties involved, which ultimately leads to the best outcomes. 

Real-World Co-Creation Success Stories

Practiced by several successful businesses, co-creation is not just a concept, but an actual approach and process within business operations as employed by these three very innovative companies: 

Examples of Business applying Co-Creation in their Operating Models


IKEA, for instance, encourages customers to propose product ideas and works with university students on finding solutions.


Another company embracing this practice is DeWalt with its DEWALT Insights Forum – a community of 12,000 members who provide feedback to improve product design and packaging


Finally, LEGO stands out as a leader in incorporating co-creation into their business model. Their customers can submit new product ideas and vote on them while fostering creativity among employees to experiment with unique designs.

Fostering Co-creation culture by presenting the task to all employees and stakeholders, the stats, graphs and goal towards co-creation

How to Create a Co-Creative Culture

Establishing a collaborative culture within a company is a challenging task. It involves changing existing beliefs and actively promoting employee participation while also developing channels to engage with customers.

Let us now explore these ideas in more depth, paying special attention to the importance of utilizing engagement platforms for fostering co-creation.

Encouraging Employee Involvement

Co-creation involves the participation of employees, who are vital to any organization. Companies can promote an intrapreneurial culture and empower their workers by allowing them a platform to share and advocate for their ideas. This encourages employee engagement and strengthens their commitment towards fostering innovation within the company.

With platforms like Sodexo’s Innov’ Hub and Flex Experiences software, digital collaboration is made possible among employees as they collaborate on projects utilizing each other’s expertise. By providing avenues for brainstorming, exchanging ideas, and collectively generating innovative solutions across various aspects of the company.

Building Customer Engagement Platforms

Developing engagement platforms for customers is a crucial component of promoting a co-creative environment. These digital tools and online portals enable businesses to involve their patrons in the creation process, encouraging them to share their suggestions, feedback, and ideas.

The impact of such platforms has been significant across various industries including retail, food & beverage establishments, financial services companies, media outlets, telecommunications firms, and healthcare providers. By incorporating key features like centralized customer profiles, prompt service delivery, and seamless experiences across multiple channels, the use of these platforms can effectively support co-creation.

With important elements such as unified customer information, prompt responsiveness, and integrated channel experiences, customer participation in the creation process through these types of digitalized cooperation methods has proven vital in fostering effective collaboration within many diverse sectors. These ongoing developments are changing how products or services are created, distributed, serviced, and shared by bringing together customers with different backgrounds, knowledge bases, and innovative thinking patterns into one common space where they can all contribute towards an improved outcome.

Strategies for Effective Co-Creation

The process of co-creation, although highly effective, must be approached with strategic planning and precision. Two essential tactics for achieving successful outcomes in co-creation involve aligning the interests of all stakeholders involved and promoting direct communication.

Let us delve deeper into these strategies to understand their significance.

Aligning Stakeholder Interests

Effective co-creation requires all stakeholders to have a shared understanding of their common goal. This alignment is essential as it encourages teamwork, collaboration, and joint efforts towards achieving successful innovation.

To ensure stakeholder harmony in co-creation, businesses can use tactics such as mapping out key players and engaging with them proactively. Developing a clear strategy for involving stakeholders and creating synergy through effective documentation are also vital steps towards aligning interests for successful co-creation.

Facilitating Direct Interaction

Effective co-creation involves direct engagement between stakeholders, which is crucial for producing high-quality results and generating value for customers. In order to foster this type of interaction, businesses should cultivate an inclusive environment that encourages constructive dialogue and active involvement from all participants.

To facilitate direct interaction in the process of co-creating, companies can utilize various tools and platforms such as Mural, Miro, My Starbucks Idea, and IdClic. These resources are specifically designed to promote collaboration among individuals involved in the co-creation process.

Both these strategies and various tactics are taught in the Strategy Journey Accelerator Path, to show the HOW and not just the WHAT, including use of a Co-Creation Journey Map. Learn more (CTA).

How does Co-creation help you Scale?

In today’s fast-paced business world, co-creation has the potential to be a game-changing strategy for companies looking to scale up. With the power of technology and global collaboration, local initiatives can evolve into worldwide movements that propel businesses towards greater success. This approach allows companies to tap into new opportunities and reach wider audiences through effective partnerships and innovative ideas. Co-creation truly holds immense potential in taking businesses to new heights on a global level.

From Local Initiatives to Global Movements

Through the practice of co-creation, stakeholders are empowered to collaboratively share and refine ideas. This enables local initiatives to evolve into global movements by establishing a sustainable business model, aligning demand and supply, and fostering advocacy within the community.

Two prominent examples of businesses that have successfully utilized co-creation in expanding from local initiatives to global impact include Unilever and Apple. By effectively leveraging this approach, these companies were able to create innovative solutions while also gaining support from their communities on both a small scale locally as well as globally.

Leveraging Technology for Wider Reach

Co-creation is greatly aided by technology, as it provides efficient tools that facilitate the involvement of both employees and customers. With these platforms, such as Crowdsourcing, collaboration becomes easier and enables a unified approach towards innovation.

Businesses can significantly save on costs during the co-creation process with the help of technology. By automating tasks, addressing cyber threats effectively and improving productivity levels, expenses are reduced while also expediting the overall innovation process for companies.

Co-Creation’s Role in Future Business Trends

The importance of co-creation in the business world is expected to grow significantly in the future. This growth will be particularly notable in emerging markets and among luxury brands, where co-creation is predicted to have a substantial influence.

Co-Creation in Emerging Markets

In the context of emerging markets, co-creation can offer businesses valuable insights into current trends and customer preferences. This helps ensure that their products remain relevant and in line with market demands.

Through the establishment of innovative value chains that benefit all parties involved, co-creation presents a sustainable competitive advantage for companies operating in these markets. Two successful examples are Unilever and Lego, both leveraging this approach to drive growth and success within their respective industries.

Co-Creation and Luxury Brands

Luxury brands have the opportunity to utilize co-creation as a means of developing unique products and experiences that cater specifically to their discerning customers’ changing preferences. This approach has proven successful for leading brands such as Burberry, Nike, and Yves Saint Laurent, who have incorporated it into their business models. By offering personalized experiences and seeking input from customers on complex challenges, these businesses are able to foster increased product innovation through customer-driven solutions.


Co-creation is a game-changing approach that unites businesses, employees, customers and other stakeholders in an inclusive process of value generation. This method encourages creativity, enhances customer satisfaction and enables business expansion. Regardless of the size or global standing of a company, co-creation presents a distinctive opportunity to stay ahead in today’s dynamic market and generate long-term benefits for all involved parties. You can read more about Co-creation & Digital transformation in our Strategy Journey eBook below.

Click here to Read More

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning of co-creation?

Co-creation is a deliberate collaborative effort to produce something, typically involving the shared development of goods and services with input from customers. It entails working together with one or more individuals to construct an end product.

The concept involves building something through cooperative work rather than individual efforts. This can involve joint design activities where consumers provide their insights towards the final result.

What is a co-creation relationship?

Co-creation is a collaborative relationship where two parties intentionally work together to create something, often starting from scratch and utilizing the dynamics of their partnership.

As a business strategy, companies utilize co-creation by involving customers in product development and decision-making processes. This allows for direct customer input and participation in shaping products or services.

How do you co-creation?

To do co-creation, it is important to know your audience, understand your customers’ interests, utilize customer knowledge, stay open-minded, and continuously reach out for collaboration.

By following these steps, you can effectively engage in co-creation.

What benefits does co-creation offer?

The practice of co-creation presents a range of advantages for companies, including the ability to develop customized products that align with customer preferences, as well as enhancements in financial performance. It also encourages the generation of fresh and unforeseen ideas while fostering increased loyalty from customers. It facilitates breaking down barriers between industries.

These benefits make co-creation an advantageous strategy for businesses looking to improve their overall operations and relationships with clients.

How does co-creation help businesses scale?

The process of co-creation has the potential to drive business scalability by converting local efforts into worldwide movements and utilizing technology for broader outreach and effectiveness. This can result in amplified expansion and triumph for the company.

Julie Choo

About the author

Julie Choo is lead author of THE STRATEGY JOURNEY book and the founder of STRATABILITY ACADEMY. She speaks regularly at numerous tech, careers and entrepreneur events globally. Julie continues to consult at large Fortune 500 companies, Global Banks and tech start-ups. As a lover of all things strategic, she is a keen Formula One fan who named her dog, Kimi (after Raikkonnen), and follows football - favourite club changes based on where she calls home.

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