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Consumers as Co-Producers

In: Business and Management

Submitted By elikunu
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Amplify the view that consumers are co-producers.
Production refers the processes and methods used to transform tangible inputs (raw materials, semi-finished goods, subassemblies etc.) and intangible inputs (ideas, information, knowledge etc.) into goods or services. Co-production thus reflects a conscious strategic decision by consumers to become involved in production-like activities. In other words, it refers to the involvement of consumers in the various value creating activities through which products or services are made. The following accounts for some of the reasons why consumers are considered as co-producers.
In the first place, consumers are considered as co-producers because they undertake the consumer feedback activity. Direct contact between consumers and producers is one important effective way of achieving high quality and improved features in a product. Traditionally, when direct contact with producers is impossible, consumers channel their grievances as well as suggestions for products’ improvement through retailers/wholesalers who have a relationship with producers. The 21st century consumer no longer needs to go through the traditional process to pass on information to the producer. All they need to do is to visit the company’s website and make their views on product features known to the producer. For instance, a consumer who purchased an app from the android market can go right back there and write a review on the product. Such reviews usually help the producer to improve upon the quality and features of the app. Besides, consumer feedback activities play a vital role in the first stage of the new product development where consumers’ opinions are sought on product ideas.
Additionally, consumers are co-producers because they are involved in the assembling of unassembled (unfinished) products they have purchased. Here, consumers buy unassembled packages and later assembles the component parts into a complete product. Usually, this kind of purchase decision comes at a reduced cost to the consumer. As consumers purchased an unfinished product, the quality of the final product depends on them. This implies a total shift in responsibility for the finishing of the product from the producer to the consumer. A very good example is where consumers purchase component parts of furniture at a reduced cost and assembles it into a complete piece of furniture. Again, when the consumer purchase a desktop computer, the need for assembling the component parts (that is, the system unit, monitor, mouse etc.) arises. When s/he does this, s/he actually creates value for him or herself, and can thus be regarded as a co-producer.
Furthermore, consumers who involve themselves in the design of their desired products are co-producers. Consumers are no longer passive, as they play an active role in the design and customization of their desired products. Designing involves an active interaction and adaptation between consumers and producers aimed at meeting consumers’ specific needs in the best and most effective way. Co-production in design appears to be driven by changes in the perceptions of the benefits resulting from the process such as more individualized solutions, changes in situational variables and the capabilities of both the consumer and producer. Co-production in design is most effective in the fashion industry.
Also, consumers are co-producers because they take over the provision of services for themselves. This is dominant in service organizations where machines and systems are put in place to enable consumers to provide services for themselves. The ATM machines and Online Banking are two examples of systems that enable consumers to take over part of banking services. This reduces the situation where consumers would have to join long queues in the banking hall for several minutes before they are served. Other instances also exist in the health sector. This aspect of the consumer’s involvement in co-production is dependent on his or her ability to learn, and the amount of value s/he ascribes to the involvement.
Finally, consumers are considered as co-producers for the mere reason that they purchase and actually use a product to satisfy a need. To the Economist, production ends when goods or service reach the final consumer. The economist view of production implies that when a consumer purchases a product and consumes it, s/he is involved in production. If for instance Kofi buys banku, the consumption of the banku by Kofi creates value for him. This goes to support the view that the consumer is a co-producer.
From the above discussions, it is evident that the consumer is constantly involved in varying production-like activities and thus affirms the concept of consumers as co-producers.

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