Companies need to demonstrate “giveashitability”

By on October 7, 2016

It is becoming increasingly common for companies to co-create new products and services in cooperation with consumers. This can be a highly successful strategy – as long as there is a reason for the collaboration. Karina T. Liljedal calls it ‘giveashitability’. 

In the dissertation ‘Communicated Consumer Co-creation. Consumer Response to Consumer Co-creation in New Product and Service Development’, Karina T. Liljedal examines how consumers respond to companies that develop new products and services together with consumers.

Consumer co-creation takes place when two or more parties collaborate to create something of value. This is often used in companies’ marketing. As an example, McDonald’s “My Burger” campaign invited consumers both to suggest new hamburgers and to vote for which of these they wanted McDonald’s to offer in their restaurants.

“Both consumers who participate actively in co-creation, and the majority who do not and only become aware of the co-creation through marketing, respond positively to co-creation if it includes a form of ‘giveashitability’,” says Karina T. Liljedal.

‘Giveashitability’ is an expression that means that you should be able to answer the question ‘Why should they give a shit?’ In other words, there should be a good reason why consumers would want to co-create with the company. The reasons can vary broadly, from consumers’ perception that a better product or service will be made available in the market, to simply having fun co-creating.

“The expression ‘giveashitability’ stems from my previous work at a digital marketing agency in London. Before creating a new campaign, we would ask ourselves why the target group should ‘give a shit’. In my doctoral research on co-creation, I realized that ‘giveashitability’ plays a much more important role here than in traditional advertising. In co-creation, consumers really need to be active and contribute, and the company really has to be able to offer a good reason for their engagement.”

In co-creation, ‘giveashitability’ also matters to non-participating consumers. Their response to newly co-created products or services is based on whether they perceive other consumers’ involvement as meaningful. They want to know that the participating consumers contributed with some form of relevant competence, and that they represent either ‘ordinary’ consumers or some form of expertise. If they cannot see any of this, co-creation will be perceived as meaningless or even as something the company is doing only to appear in a better light.