To read this content please select one of the options below:

Value co-creation in social marketing: functional or fanciful?

Christine Domegan (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Katie Collins (The Bristol Social Marketing Centre, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
Martine Stead (Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling and the Open University, Stirling, UK)
Patricia McHugh (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Tim Hughes (Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 7 October 2013




Value co-creation thinking is reshaping the understanding of markets and marketing and presents a significant opportunity to develop the theory and practice of social marketing. However, whilst value co-creation offers thought-provoking new directions for the field, applying this theory and its core concepts in social marketing is not without significant challenges. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


This is a conceptual paper that seeks to integrate lessons from social marketing practice with the value co-creation discourse from commercial marketing. Drawing upon two projects that have applied principles of collaboration and co-design, the paper provides a critical perspective on the adoption of value co-creation in social marketing.


The collaborative and emancipatory ambitions of co-creation seem highly compatible with social marketing. However, the paper notes some significant conceptual, ethical and practical obstacles in the path of a workable theory of value co-creation for social marketing.


While representation of value co-creation and other collaborative approaches is increasing in the social marketing literature, this is the first attempt to provide an integrated and critical review of their compatibility with social marketing at a conceptual, ethical and theoretical level. The analysis shows that value co-creation theory can simultaneously offer opportunities and present obstacles for social marketing.



Domegan, C., Collins, K., Stead, M., McHugh, P. and Hughes, T. (2013), "Value co-creation in social marketing: functional or fanciful?", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 239-256.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles