Purpose: This paper aims to analyze the implications of communicating customer involvement in the ideation and concept stage of new product development (NPD). This paper assesses the extent to which the awareness that a product was co-created jointly by company professional designers and consumers affects observer consumers’ attitudes toward the product and the company. While earlier research has mainly emphasized the positive and desirable consequences of consumer participation in NPD, the present set of studies shows that labeling products as having been co-created is not always valuable; rather, it is dependent on the level of perceived complexity of the products. Design/methodology/approach: The hypotheses are tested in four experimental studies using several categories of product complexity (low, medium and high). The data have been collected on young adult samples, measuring the participants’ perceptions of a firm’s innovation ability and product purchase intentions. Findings: The results suggest that there are benefits at the corporate level (higher perceptions of innovation ability) to inform the market about consumer involvement, particularly when consumers and company professionals work together. The findings also indicate that product complexity plays a critical role in translating the perceptions of greater corporate abilities (innovation) in purchase intention, and it is particularly beneficial for low-complexity products. Originality/value: The previous research has mainly focused on the impact of involving consumers in firms and participating consumers; however, it has neglected the role of observer consumers. This study adds to the innovation literature by showing that the value of learning about other consumers’ involvement in firm NPD is not universally beneficial and that product complexity is a critical boundary condition.