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    Abstract Purpose – This paper aims to supply penetrations into the development and direction of a client community. informing merchandise invention and prosecuting clients in co-creation of a ingestion experience. Design/methodology/approach – A reappraisal of the province of current cognition about co-production. co-creation and client communities is followed by treatment of the instance survey methodological analysis. The instance history of a taking participant in the UK and international “sportkiting” market focuses on merchandise invention and customer-community development.

    Discussion rhenium? ECTs in more item on the lessons from the instance for application of the rules in pattern. Findingss – The instance company’s advanced merchandise development scheme provides the accelerator for co-creation of a client experience. Its selling actions extend beyond merchandise development and invention to actively co-creating experiences with clients. furthering a sense of community among users. easing communicating within that community. moving on the feedback. and continuously developing and keeping the community relationship.

    Research limitations/implications – The company’s selling scheme can be summed up as “customer community leadership” . This paradigm proposes a new function for concerns in sectors where there is a possible to develop and prosecute communities. It provides a context for the effectual facilitation of client cognition direction. within which marketing intelligence plays a signi? cant function. The? ndings offer range for farther research into the nature of this phenomenon and its relevancy to co-creation in other industry sectors. and into legion facets of the procedures and impacts associated with client communities.

    Originality/value – The instance contributes to the literature of co-creation. showing how it has been achieved through a selling scheme and selling mix in a peculiar client community. Keywords Customer dealingss. Innovation. Relationship selling. Leadership Paper type Case survey Marketing Intelligence & A ; Planning Vol. 25 No. 2. 2007 pp. 136-146 Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0263-4503 DOI 10. 1108/02634500710737924 Introduction.

    The increased complexness. globalisation and knowledge-intensity of market places require all concerns to do better usage of their technological. organisational and selling competencies in order to last. Contemporary organisations in extremely competitory and extremely advanced markets must be able to construct market portion rapidly. by presenting fast. high quality. advanced solutions. The altering organizational environment has driven involvement in organizational acquisition and cognition direction ( Drucker. 1993 ; Prusak. 1997 ) .

    Many surveies have con? rmed client cognition as one of the most of import cognition bases for an administration ( Bennett and Gabriel. 1999 ; Chase. 1997 ) . and there is a considerable involvement in the potency of “co-production” and “co-creation” either separately or in community contexts. to heighten invention and concern public presentation ( Gibbert et al. . 2002 ) .

    Focus on the battle of clients in organisational acquisition. invention and cognition procedures heralds the morning of a new paradigm of marketing intelligence in which information and information are non merely gathered into databases and distilled to inform direction determination devising. but instead selling intelligence is embedded in dynamic co-creation processes that involve clients as spouses instead than topics.

    Through a instance survey analysis and review of a prima maker of kiteboarding equipment. this paper seeks to supply penetrations into the battle and direction of a client community. to inform merchandise invention and to prosecute clients in co-creation of a clean experience.

    The instance contributes to the literature of co-creation and speci? cally to the manner in which communities can be enlisted in the co-creation of experiences. It begins with a literature reappraisal. sketching the province of current cognition on co-production and co-creation and on client communities. followed by a description of the instance survey methodological analysis. A pro? lupus erythematosus of the company. with peculiar mention to its merchandise development and community development follows leads to re? ection in item on the part from this instance. Finally. decisions and recommendations provide a sum-up of the issues. The construct of “customer community leadership” is proposed. and agendas for farther research identi?

    erectile dysfunction. Literature reappraisal This subdivision draws together current cognition on two cardinal subjects: co-creation. or co-production. and client communities. Research on both of these subjects? T loosely within the paradigm or doctrine of relationship selling. As the chief board of a selling scheme. relationship selling purposes to construct long term. reciprocally hearty dealingss with clients. providers and distributers with the cardinal aim of gaining and retaining their long-run penchant. trueness and concern ( Foss and Stone. 2001 ; Peck et Al. . 1999 ; Buttle. 1996 ; Massey et Al. . 2001 ) .

    In discoursing the absence of a consensus on the term relationship selling. and on the rightness of the term. other writers have suggested that a focal point on interactions and webs of interactions between concerns and their clients might be more meaningful ( Healy et al. . 2001 ; Zoliewski. 2004 ) . The constructs of co-production and client communities both focus on interactions. Communities. in peculiar. affect webs of interactions.

    The subject of interaction between clients and organisations in merchandise and service invention is developed in the literature on co-production. Prahalad and Ramaswamy ( 2000 ) suggest that companies have to recognize that the client is going a spouse in making value. and need to larn how to tackle client competencies. One facet of this will be the battle of clients in co-creating personal experiences. The organic structure of work on co-creation and co-production has grown in recent old ages. Kristensson et Al. ( 2004 ) have examined the bene?

    Ts of affecting users in proposing new merchandise thoughts. ? nding that ordinary users created signi? cantly more original and valuable thoughts than professional developers. whilst professional developers and advanced users created more easy dependable thoughts. At a more modest degree of client battle. Salomo et Al. ( 2003 ) found that client orientation in invention undertakings ( non needfully. in this instance. client battle ) had a positive in? uence on NPD success and that the impact increased with the grade of merchandise innovativeness.

    Similarly. Hsieh and Chen ( 2005 ) showed that new merchandise development public presentation can be enhanced by interacting with users. and capitalizing on user-knowledge direction competencies. Matthing et Al. ( 2004 ) suggest that the Customer community and co-creation 137 MIP 25. 2 138 value of client engagement in new service development resides in the chance to ease proactive larning about the client. and to understand and expect latent client demands. Lilien et Al. ( 2002 ) suggest that user part to the thought coevals procedure is optimised through the careful choice of “lead users” to take part in the procedure.

    Dahlsten ( 2004 ) discusses client engagement in the instance of a merchandise development undertaking at Volvo Cars. which allowed the undertaking direction squad to get an apprehension of the client through “customer presence” . A survey comparing the beginnings of merchandise and procedure invention in big and little technology-based? rms found that merchandise developers in SMEs valued clients. colleagues. selling and diaries more extremely. whilst providers were peculiarly valued by big? rms ( Bommer and Jalajas. 2004 ) .

    Co-creation might be viewed as an facet of customer-knowledge competency. the procedures that generate cognition about speci? degree Celsius clients ( Campbell. 2003 ) . Gibbert et Al. ( 2002. p. 460 ) describe client cognition direction as a procedure in which administrations seek to “know what their clients know” and de? ne it as: . . . the strategic procedure by which cutting-edge companies emancipate their clients from inactive receivers of merchandises and services. to empowerment as cognition spouses. CKM is about deriving. sharing. and spread outing the cognition residing in clients. to both client and corporate bene?

    It is therefore concerned with an apprehension of how to arouse and leverage cognition from clients. Their accent on interacting with clients and co-production. widening to co-learning. lifts the focal point from roll uping informations and information in order to larn about clients to larn with clients. They discuss? ve different manners of client cognition direction. including “prosumerism” where the client acts as co-producer. and “communities of creation” in which groups of people work together. hold shared involvements. and want to jointly make and portion cognition.

    The focal point of co-production research is frequently on merchandise invention and new merchandise development. with some parts associating to service development ( Matthing et al. . 2004 ) . However. Prahalad and Ramaswamy ( 2003 ) . propose a hereafter in which the venue of invention and co-production will switch from merchandises and services to “experience environments” . This suggestion aligns with other proposals that the “experience marketing” epoch is on the skyline. and that it is going progressively of import for concerns to react to the demands of the experience consumer ( Li and Wei. 2004 ) .

    Co-creation may take topographic point in the context of client communities. There is a considerable literature on client nines ( Butscher. 2002 ; Gustafsson et Al. . 2004 ; Stauss et Al. . 2001 ) and trueness strategies ( Bolton et Al. . 2000 ; Mauri. 2003 ; Passingham. 1998 ; Worthington. 2000 ) . Merely a little sub-group of such nines and strategies can decently be described as client communities. nevertheless. which should at the really least exhibit C2C interaction. To convincingly warrant the usage of “community” they should furthermore portion a civilization with norms. values and individuality. and common involvements and aims.

    Fan nines. involvement nines. and package user groups may represent client communities. Butscher ( 2002 ) identi? es the Kawasaki Riders Club. The Volkswagen Club. and Swatch The Club as illustrations which might be described as client communities. On the other manus. trueness strategies such as Tesco Clubcard. American Express. Airmiles. and Marriot Rewards are focussed on the B2C dimension of relationship selling. and make little to cultivate or in? uence C2C interactions. Therefore. whilst they may be able to place a comparatively stable group of users. they have non created a community.

    One context in which there has been more treatment of client communities is the practical environment ( Armstrong and Hagel. 1996 ) . Some trueness strategies use this channel to back up C2C interaction. Virtual client communities enable organisations to set up distributed invention theoretical accounts that involve varied client functions in new merchandise development ( Nambisan. 2002 ; Pitta and Fowler. 2005 ) . Nambisan ( 2002 ) suggests that the design of practical client environments needs to see interaction forms. cognition creative activity. client motive. and integrating of the practical client community with the new merchandise development squad.

    Dholakia et Al. ( 2004 ) explore the impact of group norms and societal individuality on engagement in consumer communities. The wider literature on practical communities and their function in larning and knowledge creative activity is besides significant. and may hold positions to offer on the function of practical communities in invention ( Hall and Graham. 2004 ; Davenport and Hall. 2002 ; Wenger. 2000 ) . In decision. the subjects of co-creation and client communities have been identi? ed as of import in the literature. but there remains a range for considerable farther work. speci? cally associating to: . co-creation of experiences ;

    Customer communities that exist in both physical and practical infinite ; and. the mechanisms and procedures through which organisations can prosecute client communities. as opposed to single members of those communities. in co-creation. Methodology Case surveies are a valuable manner of looking at the universe around us. and inquiring how or why inquiries ( Yin. 1994 ) . The instance survey design adopted in this paper may be described as a holistic individual instance design.

    Typically. individual instance designs are appropriate when the exercising has something particular to uncover that might move as a point of going for disputing standard wisdom. anterior theoretical positions and unseasoned premises. A specializer in featuring kite engineering was chosen as the footing for the instance analysis in this paper for four grounds in peculiar. as follows: ( 1 ) The declared mission of Flexifoil International is to: “provide our clients with the ultimate Kitesports experience” ( World Wide Web. ? exifoil. com/company ) . ( 2 ) Flexifoil has been systematically committed to merchandise invention.

    ( 3 ) Flexifoil works with clients and proactively physiques client communities to back up client battle in co-creation of the kiting experience. ( 4 ) The active and extended engagement of one of the writers in the kiting community formed the footing for an in-depth apprehension of the community edifice and co-creation procedures observed. Company pro? lupus erythematosus: Flexifoil International Through merchandise invention. the company seeks to plan and develop the highest public presentation merchandises. with new designs and merchandises that support new kite-based Customer community and co-creation 139 MIP.

    25. 2 featuring experiences and events. Flexifoil construct both their ain client community and the kite embarkation community in general through client service. distribution webs. sponsorship and publicity of the athleticss for which their merchandises are used. They provide chances for the kite sporting community to interact. online and in other ways. Their community is therefore built through B2B. C2B and C2C relationships and channels.

    140 Product development Until the early seventiess. a kite had for 100s of old ages been a piece of cloth controlled with one or two lines. designed to be hand- ? ain in blowy conditions. What is now Flexifoil International started when two English university pupils efficaciously “invented” the two-line power kite by bring forthing the? rst to be sold commercially.

    Two larger kites with the redolent names “Pro Team 8” and “Super 10” established Flexifoil’s market place. and enabled the company to come in upon a period of invention and experimentation that explored a scope of different possible applications for power kites. Some of their inventions were successful. others less so. such as three-wheeled roadsters designed to be pulled by a power kite or grip kite.

    The successful developments in stuffs and design engineering by Flexifoil and its followings allowed this basic merchandise to back up today such diverse activities as kite embarkation ( water-based ) . snow kiting. kite land embarkation. buggying. recreational power kiting. and sportkiting ( “traditional” kiting ) . The company’s ain merchandise scope now comprises: power kites. recreational kites. grip kites. and H2O re-launchable kites ; roadsters and boards ; lines and control gear ; and assorted accoutrements such as vesture.

    Following the launch of a web site. with associated forums in which partisans could run into and interchange thoughts. Flexifoil’s gross revenues increased by around 25 per cent each twelvemonth between 1999 and 2004. Innovation continued. with the development of water-based kiting or kitesur? nanogram. and subsequently kites for land embarkation and snow kiting. Over the last 30 old ages. the company had therefore efficaciously created a market. and maintained leading in its peculiar niche. by means non merely of merchandise invention but besides engagement with and cultivation of a power-boarding community. Community development Distribution.

    The community development procedure begins with the company’s distribution web of authorized retail mercantile establishments. Initially. those were chiefly windsur? ng and sur? ng stores. but more late specialised kiting stores have entered the market. Signi? cantly for Flexifoil. some of those have developed into “kitesports centres” where clients can “ ? Y before they buy” . At three Premier Kite Sports Centres. the most comprehensive Flexifoil scope is available for test in an environment characterised by knowing staff and extended installations in a good location ; activity preparation is besides on offer.

    A smaller scope of Flexifoil kites is sold through high street stores. The company besides moves the merchandise to market through preparation schools. academies and university kite nines. to whom equipment is available at discounted rates or even free of charge if the mercantile establishment becomes an of? cial Flexifoil preparation Centre. In add-on to these bricks-and-mortar mercantile establishments. the company transacts a signi? cant proportion of its retail gross revenues through cyberspace distributers.

    It besides sells trim parts. branded vesture and a choice of promotional ware via Flexifoildirect. com. but restricts distribution of nucleus merchandises to distributers who can offer a full after-sales service. The aim of the company’s distribution scheme is to construct. support and keep an effectual client community. Promotion and selling communicating. The chief platform of Flexifoil’s promotional programme is to pass on their committedness to after-sales support. and their aspiration to keep good relationships with both clients and dealer mercantile establishments.

    This scheme. in bend. generates positive viva-voce communicating. and frequently act as a channel for client feedback that can inform future merchandise invention and development. In chase of that aim. Flexifoil make extended usage of specialized advertisement media. including every kite magazine in circulation. frequently running double-page spreads. A branded show base for Flexifoil merchandise catalogues is distributed to every trader. To maintain the trade name at the Centre of the kitesporting universe. the company sponsors a squad of kite lodgers who compete around the universe.

    The promotional mix therefore embraces advertisement. promotion. gross revenues publicity and point-of-sale. Flexifoil moreover use their web site and its forums proactively to develop the UK kiting community. particularly pre-launch. Previews of new kites provoke treatment in the forums. and a degree of involvement that builds up over months of expectancy and typically generates high gross revenues volumes instantly on the release of the merchandise. This on-line communicating channel brings clients together to interchange experiences. and sell equipment to each other.

    The company lays claim to the largest online kiting community. of about 7. 000 members. The assortment of forums available to its members specialise in the full scope of sportkiting activities. The clear purpose of the selling communications scheme is. like the distribution scheme. to make a community of involvement instead than one based merely on dealing. Discussion This treatment will pull out two subjects from the instance survey analysis: co-creation. and client communities. The survey contributes a position on the co-creation of experiences. which is a cardinal component in the emerging paradigm of experience selling.

    By go oning battle with their client community. the capable company has been able non merely to garner feedback on the experiences associated with the usage of its merchandises. but besides to add to them by offering chances. in both the existent and practical environments for client to bask interactions with others who portion their involvements. It proctors and enhances the experience through the same channels. Whilst merchandise invention is step by step. the duologue and interaction with clients on which that invention is based is uninterrupted.

    This is non “co-production” in the sense that the term is used in new merchandise development contexts. but instead in the service context. where the term refers to the fact that clients have a manus in the development of their ain service experience. Nevertheless. experience “co-creation” in this instance. embeds merchandise invention. The impact of this attack to co-creation is dif? cult to extricate from the impact of other concern and selling actions.

    The signi? cant addition in gross revenues in the old ages since the launch of the web site could be taken as one index. but it Customer community and co-creation 141 MIP 25. 2 142 is of import to admit the coiling nature of the community creative activity procedure. This addition in gross revenues will hold expanded the community. and likely besides have intensi? ed customers’ battle with the experiences that community members co-create with the company.

    The instance besides contributes some penetrations on the nature of client communities. Though the company does inquire clients to register their merchandise and thereby collects personal contact inside informations. it does non run a client community. nine or trueness strategy.

    Rather. the advanced and interesting merchandises act as a accelerator for community creative activity through the medium of the “experiences” they deliver. The client community comprises those who have participated in those experiences. enjoyed them. and wish to develop the interaction. Customers work in partnership with the company to construct exhilaration and develop accomplishment. and by sharing the experiences with others. add to the entirety of the client community. The company has taken a figure of actions to ease this procedure. including working with distributers. sponsorship. battle in events. preparation classs. and an synergistic web site.

    Speci? cally. their attack to communicating with their clients is sophisticated. The common position of marketing communications as a one-way transmittal is replaced by a selling communications scheme designed to construct and reenforce the company’s place as a leader of a community. Traditional channels such as advertisement. sponsorship. and even trade name edifice are lone elements in a complex web or web of selling communications activities. affecting C2C and B2B every bit good as B2C relationships.

    The company communicates straight with its clients. but besides provides contexts which promote them to “talk” among themselves. In add-on. the selling communications attempt is “pushed” through distributers. non merely in footings of the traditional advertisement and stigmatization. but besides through the choice of distributers that can offer appropriate support and advice. These histrions in the system have a function in welcoming new members into the community. They are supported in making so by the bing online community. and assorted company-sponsored events at which members are encouraged to garner.

    The client community has built bit by bit as the concern has grown. As new merchandises have been added to the merchandise scope to back up new athleticss. new sub-communities have formed around them. The procedure of community development goes manus in manus with merchandise development. Decisions and recommendations The enterprisers behind Flexifoil International have at the same time created a athletics. and an associated sporting community. The company is clear that its mission as non merely to develop and administer the best merchandises but instead to present the most exciting kiting experience.

    This instance survey has demonstrates that the full selling mix is focussed non on minutess. or even relationship edifice. but instead on community creative activity. That community includes both consumers and traders. Product invention. distribution and publicity are tightly coupled with community creative activity. Community edifice is non merely about increasing rank. or even about the battle of members with the community. but focuses on the creative activity of a degree of mutualness in which there is ongoing duologue between community members and the company.

    Flexifoil has neither annexed an bing community. nor do they “own” one. although they do pull off a practical infinite through which the community can interact. Rather. their merchandise invention and the experiences that their merchandise scope provides have the possible to move as the accelerator for the community. whilst sponsorship. battle in events. and the practical infinite all facilitate the sweetening of the experience for community members. Other companies compete with Flexifoil for leading of the power kiting community. both rival makers and others keen to heighten the sportkiting experience.

    Many of these have web sites through which they seek to capture an online community. For illustration. one casts itself as “the kite? yer’s portal to the internet” offering links to kite makers and kite shops in the USA and Canada. to other power kiting web sites. to other kite? yer sites. kite squads and nines. and to magazines and newsgroups. Another claims to be “the on-line community that brings? yers together” and a 3rd promotes itself as “the internet magazine for kiters” .

    All offer different services and bene? T to their clients. but for some. their battle with the athletics kiting community will be restricted to practical infinite. Though Flexifoil has a strong trade name presence as a maker. it needs to promote members to take part with it in “co-creation” if it is to present on its mission of supplying clients with the ultimate kite athleticss experience. The attack to selling scheme described in this instance survey can competently be described as client community leading.

    By taking the athletics kiting community. but non having it. Flexifoil has created a community that will purchase their merchandises. co-create kiting experiences. supply penetrations that can inform invention in the merchandise. the experience and the community invention. look frontward to the following merchandise release. and reciprocally heighten community members’ experiences of the company’s merchandises and services. Embedded in this attack to community leading are a figure of more traditional selling actions. such as new merchandise development. advertisement. and commitment to after-sales support.

    The distribution channels are designed to offer the support and preparation that is likely to heighten athletics kiting experiences. but besides to construct relationships with traders. and to convey athleticss kiters together. This is supplemented by chances for interaction in practical infinite. Community development is achieved through a web of relationship-building actions. at the bosom of which are gratifying and shareable athleticss kiting experiences. Through community leading. the company has created a context in which clients are therefore from being inactive receivers of merchandises and services. and empowered as cognition spouses ( Gibbert et al. . 2002 ) .

    In other words. it has thereby created a context that facilitates the procedures of client cognition direction. This is an attack to selling intelligence and determination devising embedded in dynamic co-creation processes that involve clients as spouses. It is deserving observing that the term “customer community leadership” can hold two different significances in pattern. First. it may intend leading of a community. in the sense of doing it work. puting its way. and take parting in the defining of experiences of community members.

    In this context. the focal point is on factors such as member battle. civilization. norms. individuality and community viability. in footings of the value delivered to all parties. Second. it can depict an avenue to market leading. in which the concern public presentation of an administration over the longer term is de? ned and determined by the extent to which its leading of a community of possible clients. or its power and capacity to take. is greater than that of its rivals. Customer community and co-creation 143 MIP 25. 2 144

    In taking the development of the construct of client community leading frontward. it will be of import to research the different manners and attacks that are and can be adopted by different? rms and organisations. Given that another necessity of successful leading is followings. an of import phenomenon for farther survey is the nature of “followership” in this context. This instance survey has focussed on the actions and schemes adopted by one concern to construct and bene? T from a client community and to prosecute clients in the co-creation of an experience.

    In add-on. it has demonstrated how both on-line and real-world communities can be enlisted to lend to constructing the experience. There is a range for considerable farther survey of the procedures associated with the co-creation of the experience. and the inside informations of how communities operate. Such research needs both to cover a wider scope of organisations and concern sectors. and to analyze in more item facets of communities. co-creation and client cognition direction. Some possible countries of probe are: .

    Percepts and positions of different stakeholders as to the impact of the community and the parts of different parties in the co-creation of the experience. . The pro? lupus erythematosus of such client communities in footings of trueness. keeping and client life-time value. including comparings between online and real-world communities. . Community processes. including theoretical accounts of cardinal procedures of in? uence. cognition and acquisition. identi? cation and function of “node” members. and the function of famous person voices and indorsement. . The selling actions that contribute to the cultivation of effectual co-creation communities.

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