Co-Creation for Retail


Marketing circles have been discussing it for a while, but now co-creation is starting to make its way into retail stores. Experts predict it will shape the future for shopping and for retail experiences. Learn more about retail’s new symbiotic strategy.

Defining Co Creation for Retail

Co-creation is the process by which a customer, or attendee, actively contributes in a transaction or experience. Upon initial inspection, that may sound like par for the course. But, theoretically, contribution can exist at a range of levels. On the lower end of the scale, is a very passive form of contribution, also known as attendance. That’s the easy way to engage with your customers.

CMOs have many big-name retailers using value-add sales tactics. That means stores host events or lecture series, and attempt to develop a subtle, symbiotic relationship. They offer some educational materials (maybe a speaker) that attracts and interests the market in the hopes that the consumer will feel inspired. Fingers crossed, inspiration will lead to purchases.

The end of the spectrum is the very extreme, active side. This is the side where your customer puts their blood, sweat, and tears into your purchase process. As a result, they’re more interested in your brand, in your offerings, and in the lifestyle you represent. In real-world context, this person would be considered the main attraction, or speaker. We want every customer that walks through your door to have a concert headliner’s level of engagement.

Passive participation is the D minus of retail engagement. You’re there. They’re there. And that’s pretty much it. Attendance and impressions aren’t the goal. Active participation is the goal.

Get the Ball Rolling

The key to developing this level of engagement is making your product seem more like a service. Think about companies like Build-A-Bear or Ford’s online Build and Price feature. In these cases, the service works as a personalization tool. The reality is, the “unique” differences are an illusion. But, despite knowing that deep down, I’m willing to bet that you still felt like you were building a new best friend, when you sewed a tiny heart into your $80 stuffed bear.

The service doesn’t need to be a large-scale monogramming operation. The program can relate to the brand or the lifestyle/mission of the brand. Focus on making the outcome feel unique to the user so that each customer feels like they created something totally personal.

Completely immersive, active participation experiences are difficult to scale, particularly for retail. The challenges aren’t only about budgeting and return. Finding a way to provide a contribution campaign that’s consistent across platforms should be a concern for retail strategists. It should not, however, be a deterrent. The root of cultivating engagement in retail, is finding a way to build a significant memory for your customers. When dealing with products, that means your customer should be putting in effort and creativity for the final product.