Differentiating market offerings using complexity and co‐creation

Olaf Plötner (European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), Berlin, Germany)
Jan Lakotta (Department of Strategy and Transformation, Capgemini Consulting, Berlin, Germany)
Frank Jacob (Department of Marketing, ESCP Europe, Berlin, Germany)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Publication date: 4 January 2013



Customer decision‐making uncertainty (DMU) is a persistent phenomenon in business‐to‐business markets. However, there is substantial variation in the degree to which customers perceive DMU and how suppliers should react to it. The purpose of this paper is to explain variation in customer decision‐making uncertainty.


Based on existing industrial buying typologies, this paper proposes a new classification scheme to explain variance in customer decision‐making uncertainty. Market offering complexity and co‐creation are used as defining dimensions in the construction of four archetypal types of industrial market offerings.


The paper demonstrates on a theoretical level that customer decision‐making uncertainty is especially prevalent in complex offerings characterized by high degrees of co‐creation.

Practical implications

This typology helps to provide a more nuanced understanding of the effects of co‐creation on customer value. Firms should adapt their selling approaches to the degree of complexity and co‐creation that they offer their customers.


The originality of the paper rests in explaining customer decision‐making uncertainty in relation to complexity and co‐creation. Thus, it sheds light on the dark side of co‐creating market offerings.



Plötner, O., Lakotta, J. and Jacob, F. (2013), "Differentiating market offerings using complexity and co‐creation", European Business Review, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 65-85. https://doi.org/10.1108/09555341311287745

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