Three great articles about consumer innovation that should have been written in English !


Gustave Doré’s éngraving The Confusion of Tongues (1865) is a wonderful illustration of the Tower of Babel (in the back)

As a young PhD student, I’m reading quite a lot of papers about co-creation, crowdsourcing, creativity etc. I have the luck to be able to read in French, German and English, which broadens the scope of papers immensely! In this post, I want to share a couple of papers that have not been published in English… but definitely should have! One example is this paper about types of customer co-creation, which has first been published in German, making it unavailable to all those who don’t speak Goethe’s language! Luckily, it has recently been published in English one year later, and it’s even available for free in this book. Unfortunately, I can think of other papers that would probably help a lot of people if they had been translated into English! Here are some of their findings.


The only French journal which systematically translates the published articles is Recherche et Applications en Marketing (RAM). This means that French publications published in other journals won’t be accessible to the world, some of them would gain to be known to wider audiences. One of them is Lead Users et Leaders d’opinion : Deux Cibles Majeures au Service de l’Innovation (Lead User and Opinion Leader: Two Major Targets Supporting Innovation), published in Décisions Marketing in 2007, for which only the abstract is translated. The article highlights the complementary role of Lead Users, who invent new products, and Opinion Leaders, who like to talk about them. Published four years ago, this research is kind if similar to very recent findings by Eric Vernette:


Recent research conducted in France shows that lead users (and emergent customers) make up a minor part of the French population… but are much more willing to co-create with brands in product development (Vernette, 2011)

What’s interesting in the study is that the 2007 study is backed by good data: not only did the authors the authors survey consumers both in France and the United States, but the study also encompassed a qualitative aspect by which they can describe the type of innovations developped by consumers. Even though it does not claim national representativeness like Von Hippel’s recent studies about consumer innovation, it gives great insights into consumer creativity and innovations! Among the most interesting findings is lead users are more affluent in the US (18% of surveyed consumers) than in France (5%).


Bernard Cova, who already gave us some great insights about the current state of co-creation, published in different languages, mainly French and English. One article called Consumer Made : Quand le Consommateur Devient Producteur (Consumer Made : When the Consumer Becomes Producer), however, has not been translated. It has been published in Décisions Marketing in 2008, and found quite some resonance among French researchers. But to my knowledge, the only English-speaking “publication” that used a similar term is Trendwatching with its great article called Customer Made (a slightly different term)… and they published it in 2004 already!


Jones Soda has been letting customers create its own labels – some of them are chosen as permanent, wide-distribution labels (source:

Consumer Made is defined by Cova as “the result of the (mise en jeu) of one or several consumers in order to modify or improve a company’s products which leads tothe creation of an originally created offer“. One could argue that it’s very close to the meaning of co-creation, which leverages consumer creativity and competencies to co-create products, but interestingly Cova differentiates lead users from creative consumers in this article. He also describes different forms of Consumer Made:


Cova proposed a model in his 2008 article (left). More recently, Curbatov illustrated and adapted it with examples and a focus on consumers’ competencies (right)

Again, one could argue that this is close to ther publications’ content, like that of Humphreys et al.’s co-creation matrix published in 2009… Anyway, Cova describes an interesting phenomenon that would have gained to be discussed by the international community of co-creation researchers!


I already blogged about this article previously: Créer de la Valeur par le Crowdsourcing : La Dyade Innovation-Authenticité (Create Value with Crowdsourcing: The Innovation-Authenticity Dyad) has been published in a French IS-journal in 2010 and is available here (in French, of course). It’s a fantastic paper that proves that there’s a link between the type of crowd which participated in crowdsoucing, its motivations and the value that companies can get from it: innovative ideas/insights or authentic feedback/perceptions.


Lobre & Lebraty show that whether you look for innovation (ideas/insights) or authenticity (feedback/perceptions), you won’t target the same people in your crowdsourcing efforts

Katia Lobre and Jean-Fabrice Lebraty leveraged both primary and secondary data to show the above illustrated findings. To my knowledge, it’s the only study about crowdsourcing that establishes links between participants’ motivations and sponsors’ value of crowdsourcing. Other articles either focus on participants’ motivations, on the quality of the online environment or on the type of benefit that the company gets from crowdsourcing, but not on all of them. For anyone interesting in the subject and able to understand French, it’s agreat paper!

Bottom line is: there is content out there that would gain to be leveraged. Is there an entrepreneurial mind out there to create a crowdsourced platform for translation of academic findings like that? PhD students like me could not only gain knowledge, but they could earn some money or ECTS-credits by translating findings to make it easily accessible, no? I mean it already exists for blogging, why not for research?

As always, I’d be glad to have your point of view 😉


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