Co-creation vs. crowdsourcing: Which drives greater business value?

A headshot of Sharon McIntyre

by Sharon McIntyre

Illustration of two pink brains on either side being connected by dashed lines.

The time has come for the world's innovative brands to reach beyond crowdsourcing and fully embrace co-creativity.

A new era of customer engagement and participation has dawned and co-creativity is at the heart of this highly-collaborative business model. While crowdsourcing may have decentralized some aspects of marketing and innovation through open calls to the public, co-creativity has actually democratized the relationship between brands, employees and customers by building a trusted community of collaborative peers.

Co-creation is an ongoing, collaborative process between a company’s employees and customers. It is the key component of participation marketing, and involves a social collaboration between a group of people. 

But to the uninitiated, it can sound a lot like crowdsourcing.

It’s not. With crowdsourcing, a company poses a problem to the public hoping it sends back a viable solution. And while 'crowdsourcing' might still garner some buzz, especially with its recent foray into TV via CBS' Wisdom of the Crowd, its long-term value and benefit to brands and consumers alike is fleeting.

On the flip side, co-creation requires building a community of a brand’s most enthusiastic customers and employees, and regularly interacting with this community of peers to innovate and solve problems together. By collaborating on the regular, both brand loyalty and advocacy are ignited and maintained for a much longer time.

We could sum things up by saying crowdsourcing is an “us and them” project, while co-creation is a “we” process; however, we thought a more detailed, visual analysis was in order. 

Check out our infographic below and discover more of the key difference between co-creativity and crowdsourcing. After all, it's the difference between transforming a 'crowd' into a devoted community of passionate, creative consumers vs merely reaching out to an already very crowded and noisy online space.


This website is not optimized for Internet Explorer.

For the best experience, please use a newer browser such as Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.