Probably The Worst Post You’ll Ever Read, God Bless It!

“Utter rubbish”! No, this is not another negative characterization I use for my new blog post. Shockingly, it is a review of one of the users of IMDB regarding the film “The Shawshank Redemption”, the most highly rated film in the website’s database. As firms make it easier and more accessible for users to write reviews about various products, we see more and more people seizing the opportunity to bash on something that offered them an unpleasant experience.

“Absolutely filthy, dark & damp” is stated in another review on TripAdvisor about a certain hotel. Other users choose aggressive titles such as “Do not book unless you have money to throw away or you are stupid”, while in Amazon you can find reviews for products stating they are “total crap” or “garbage”. But to what extent are these reviews actually helpful? Do they really offer an objective view of the product that can help other consumers like us make an informed purchase decision?


Harsh language? Not really helpful!

Let’s get back to the first example of “The Shawshank Redemption”. Another negative review starts with the phrase “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to offend people who like this film but..” before starting to list all the harsh critique on this highly regarded movie. Both reviews have the same star rating (1). But are they equally helpful to the eyes of users? Apparently not. The use of phrases such as “I’ll be honest”, “I don’t want to be mean, but” and “god bless it” is found to soften the tone of negative reviews and change the perception of them by the users (Hamilton et al., 2014). These phrases are called dispreferred markers.

The main use of these markers is that they help the reviewer in acknowledging that his opinion is not accepted by everyone and might lead to confrontation. They serve as a signal, through which the reviewer states that his writing might lead to social awkwardness and disagreement (Hamilton et al., 2014). Therefore, users who intend to negatively review something use these markers as tools to prepare the reader about something unpleasant that is mentioned in the review. And this in turn translates into people perceiving the negative review as more helpful. This is exactly what Hamilton et al. tried to discover in their paper “We’ll be honest with you, this won’t be the best article you’ll ever read”. And to do so, they use mainly 2 hypothesis:

H1: People who communicate using dispreferred markers will be evaluated as more credible

H2: Dispreferred markers will increase the perceived likability of the communicator

Essentially, if the reviewer uses such markers, he/she acknowledges that the shared information might be socially costly as it is unpleasant for some people. He/she then tries to soften the tone of a harsh critique and that makes it, in the eyes of the readers, seem more gentle and thoughtful.

The authors used 5 experiments, through which they were able to validate the two hypothesis above. But apart from that, they were also able to prove that the effects are not limited to the English language, as they conducted one of the experiments in Dutch. They also showed that the marker effect persists even if the review is short and that it also has an impact on brand personality. In essence, the use of dispreferred markers in product reviews increased brand sincerity and the user’s willingness to pay for those products.


Probably too honest…

Nevertheless, this subject is not totally novel. There have been numerous studies in marketing that show the importance of the framing of a certain message (e.g. White et al., 2011; Gamliel & Herstein, 2012). But this study makes a significant contribution, as it shows that even negative reviews can be useful and can improve the image of a product. The effect of a negative review with a dispreferred marker was even stronger than that of positive reviews. Firms should therefore aim at creating a polite customer base and hope that customers will be more “restrained” when they want to express their negative experiences (Hamilton et al., 2014).

Therefore, in the future try to use dispreferred markers in your negative reviews if you want to seem more credible. Can you soften your critique after a bad experience? I know reading my blog post was certainly one, so please try to start now!

Short explanation of the article by one of the authors:


Hamilton, Ryan, Kathleen D. Vohs, and ANNL MCGILL. “We’ll Be Honest, This Won’t Be the Best Article You’ll Ever Read: The Use of Dispreferred Markers in Word-of-Mouth Communication.” Journal of Consumer Research 41.1 (2014): 197-212.

White, Katherine, Rhiannon MacDonnell, and Darren W. Dahl. “It’s the mind-set that matters: The role of construal level and message framing in influencing consumer efficacy and conservation behaviors.” Journal of Marketing Research48.3 (2011): 472-485.

Gamliel, Eyal, and Ram Herstein. “Effects of message framing and involvement on price deal effectiveness.” European journal of marketing 46.9 (2012): 1215-1232.

Scavenger Hunt 2.0 – Crowdsourcing at its best with Streetspotr

Imagine yourself having a list of to-dos for the day, including a doctor appointment, grocery shopping, meeting a friend for lunch and your mother for an afternoon tea. Even though these are a number of things to be done, there will always be slack time in between where you cannot be as productive as you would like to be – and as we all know and as it was eloquently put into words by Benjamin Franklin: Time is Money.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could use your waiting time more efficiently and earn some money on the go?

Now, in a second scenario, imagine yourself to be part of a big company, selling products worldwide in thousands of retail shops, creating a massive amount of points of sale. Since you cannot be everywhere at the same time yourself to check how your products are presented in a store, whether enough items are on stock, which types of consumers buy your product etc. you would usually have to send out field workers to collect these valuable information. Unfortunately, this takes time, is very costly and to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific campaign, for example, it is vital to get timely information from various different locations to be able to adapt and improve your strategy while the campaign is still running (1).
Wouldn’t it be great to either clone yourself or have another option to have scalable workforce at the right place at the right time?

Just during the time when crowdsourcing was entering the peak of Gartner’s hype cycle, representing the market’s inflated expectations as well as the start of a mass media hype (2), Streetspotr was founded in Germany in 2011, with the beta phase ending in 2012 – a company exploiting two trends that affect almost all (IT-related) companies at the moment: crowdsourcing with the help of mobile.

Streetspotr is a platform that constitutes a two-sided market (3): On the one side, there are private users who face, for example, the first scenario described above. These individuals can download an app for their smartphone and learn about so-called microjobs (or “spots”) just in proximity of where they’re currently located. When they decide to take the job, they have a limited time frame in which they can answer questions, take photos etc. As soon as the result is accepted by the “employer”, the spotter earns a small amount of money, typically around 2-3€, which is accredited to the spotter’s PayPal account (4).
This way, otherwise wasted time can be turned into money while there is also a social and fun aspect as by now there is a real spotter community, where points and badges can be earned that show your credibility, enhance your reputation and unlock higher paid jobs over time (5).

The other side of the two-sided market is represented by businesses of any size that want to have access to near real-time information collected by a scalable workforce in an extremely cost-effective way. Via the website of Streetspotr, they can enter all different kinds of microjobs, determine a price that the spotter is paid and a time frame (4). As soon as the job is taken and executed by a spotter, Streetspotr controls the result’s quality and the “employer” gets to either accept or decline the result. This way, businesses can utilize the wisdom of the crowd without having to employ masses of field workers; instead making use of a temporal mobile workforce (6).

That this concept works has been shown in several ways by now. First, a number of 300.000 spotters (1) has ensured a critical mass, attracting more and more (and larger) businesses to use Streetspotr for the location-based microjobs they have, causing positive network effects for both sides of the market (3). Second, gamification and the community aspect, as well as the money to be earned ensure an excellent consumer engagement, where hardcore users purposefully plan routes to execute 20- 30 microjobs per day, earning a 4-digit sum of money in one year (6, 7).
Third, after winning two awards for their timely, well executed business model and the way they make use of the trend mobile, having created an “ideal mobile app” (8), Streetspotr now thinks about expanding beyond German-speaking countries to Great Britain and even the United States of America, after having received their first injection of capital in 2014 (7).
Talking about expansion, there is the idea that in addition to the co-creation model of C2B, Streetspotr is thinking about opening the platform to private consumers to occupy both sides of the two-sided market as well (C2C); in this respect, users shall be able to have others collect information on a used car they want to buy or any other information that can be found on the street (6, 9).

All in all, I think Streetspotr has managed to develop a business model that is really interesting and has a high potential – it is timely, makes use of current trends and serves the individual as well as the business side of the market, having managed to create a critical mass on both sides. Personally, I have just downloaded the app and look forward to earning some money on the go from now on.


  3. Eisenmann, T., Parker, G., & Van Alstyne, M. W. (2006). Strategies for two-sided markets. Harvard business review84 (10), 92.
  9. Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P. K., & Kuusela, H. (2013). Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications. European Business Review,25(1), 6-19
  10. Featured Image: Streetspotr Facebook

So Whaddya Think? Consumers Create Ads and Other Consumers Critique Them

With the availability of online creative tools, consumers create ad-like communications on their own or in response to company contests. These consumer-generated ads (CGA) are like word-of-mouth (WOM) in that they are consumer-to-consumer communications, yet they have the look and feel of traditional advertising. Ertimur and Gilly (2012) examine consumer responses to both contest and unsolicited CGA and company ads using data gathered from consumers via netnography and depth interviews.

What makes CGA highly relevant for consumer researchers?
They allow consumers to communicate on behalf of (or in opposition to) firms and participate in creating brand images. The resulting ads constitute evidence of consumers perceptions of the brand as well as the firm. Consumers say they are more likely to be influenced by user-generated content (UGC) than by information coming directly from advertisers and marketers and that UGC outranks other forms of advertising in terms of gaining consumer trust.

The paper gave the example of a school teacher named George Masters, who in 2004 showcased the 60-second animated ad he had created for the iPod Mini by uploading it to his personal website. The video could have easily been mistaken for an ad produced by Apple. The unsolicited ad caught the attention of fans, bloggers, and marketers, and was viewed more than 500,000 times within a month. This is an example of a CGA.

With CGA, consumers create ads for products. Essentially, there are two types of CGA: 1) those solicited by companies through contests and 2) those created by consumers on their own. While unsolicited CGA are initiated as well as created by consumers, solicited CGA can be viewed as hybrid forms of content that are firm-initiated and consumer-created. With both types of CGA, consumers perform tasks that were previously handled by companies. Hence, this new type challenges the traditional view of advertising as a form of company-controlled communication.

Ertimur and Gilly (2012) found in their research that consumers respond to both types of CGA by engaging with the ad rather than the brand, much like an ad critic, while company ads elicit brand associations. Unsolicited CGA are seen as authentic, but not credible, while contest ads are seen as credible, but not authentic, revealing a boundary condition to the conventional view that authenticity leads to credibility.

I think that CGA will be more and more important for companies, because consumers have the availability to online creative tools. Companies should always be aware of this and make use of the CGA.

Ertimur, B. and Gilly, M. (2012). So Whaddya Think? Consumers Create Ads and Other Consumers Critique Them. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 26(3), pp.115-130.

Create Your Own Chocolate

“Customized Chocolate Bars Like No Other”

Have you ever wanted to create your own chocolate bar? Chocri is the worlds first company which allows comsumers to create their own chocolate bar by allowing users to choose from four bases and over 100 toppings. When you read this, you probably think: “I could make that! What is so special about it?” However, most of us can probably not even be bothered to actual create chocolate bars due to the time and effort it takes. This is the unique aspect of Chocri, it makes the process of creating your own chocolate bars fun! Chocri was founded in Berlin, Germany in 2008 by Franz Duge and Michael Bruck and it has been a very successful example is mass customization. In essence, Chocri is an online configurator where customers can design their own chocolate bar which is then produced by Chocri with techniques and costs comparable to mass production.

According to Chocri, the combination of 4 bases and more than 100 topics allows for more than 27 billion combinations. The configuration process of Chocri chocolate bars encompasses the several steps. First, customers have to choose the base of the chocolate bar (dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate or a combination of the three). Second, customers can add up to five topics. There are six different topping categories: fruit, spices, nuts, confections, decor and grains. In addition, Chocri sometines also includes seasonal categories.

The step of choosing toppings is probably a step which a lot of (creative) people will enjoy as it allows customers to explore their creativity. The pictures of the toppings is shown together with the chocolate base to allow the users to see how the final product will look like. This is an important feature for customers creating a present as it shows how good or bad the final product will look like. In addition, clicking on the names of the toppings provides customers with educational and entertaining descriptions (which might inspire customers for the name of their chocolate bar).

However, research has shown that  too much choice can be demotivating. Barry Schwartz (2004) has written a book which is focused on the Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. In the book, Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to ourwell being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.

(Schwartz, 2004)

In the context of Chocri, 27 billion combinations may be too much to handle and it may take the fun out of the configuration process. Moreover, some people need to get inspired first as they find it too difficult to create something from scratch. Therefore, Chocri has a page of recommended creations and top five bar names of the week listed on their blog. Not only can this recommendation page reduce anxiety and inspire less-creative people, it can also form a rewarding prospect for other customers as they see their creations being promoted by Chocri to other people. Recognition is a very powerful reward and can actually be more rewarding than monetary rewards as recognition directly caters to someone intrinsic motivations rather than someone’s extrinsic motivations.

After customers have created their chocolate bars, customers can choose a name for their chocolate bars and have the chocolate bars delivered to their home address. The price range of creating a chocolate bar is between $10 and $15 depending on the chosen toppings. The chocolate bars are delivered in beautiful red boxes which appears to be very professional and maybe even look too good to be opened. Moreover, the bars themselves look very professional. The toppings will be arranged beautifully by Chocri and not just randomly put on the chocolate bars with adds to professional look of the chocolate bar. The boxes also have a code on the etiquette which allows you (or your friends) to re-order your creation.

In sum, Chocri is successful and delicious example of co-creation.


Schwarz, B. (2004). The Paradox of Choice. Harper Perennial, 2004, paperback (ISBN 0060005688)

The different roles of product originality and usefulness in generating word-of-mouthcc

Have you ever heard of a product that failed because it was so original? The authors of this article argue that the Newton PDA, launched by Apple in 1993, failed partly because of its originality. After some problems with the initial version of the Newton PDA, huge negative word-of-mouth was generated in a short amount of time. This negative WOM destroyed the Newton’s reputation permanently.

This research investigates if product originality can lead to negative WOM, which harms rather than promotes a product. The authors explore when and whether product originality can lead to negative WOM.

Word-of-mouth (WOM) is known as the passing of information from person to person by oral communication (the free dictionary). WOM consists of two attributes: amount (how much people talk about a product) and valence (if people talk positively or negatively about the product).

This paper explored how originality and usefulness of products has influenced the word-of-mouth about these products. The authors hypothesize that usefulness is a moderating factor for product originality and product success.

One of the most interesting theoretical parts of this paper is that the authors assume that negative WOM (as with the case of the Newton PDA) is created partly because of the originality of the product. I personally belief that the product features of an entirely new product category play a more important role, and that negative WOM is just a logical response to bringing a new product to the market that is not working as it should.

The most interesting practical part of this paper is that the authors use a wide range of products to test the usefulness of products, ranging from memory sticks to massagers and even furniture. To test their hypotheses the authors used three separate studies with students from their university.

I would argue that some individuals perceive the usefulness of a memory stick differently than others. One of the individuals might know a lot about computer equipment and therefore knows the potential usefulness of a memory stick, whereas another individual might not know a single thing about computer equipment and therefore does not know the potential usefulness. This might lead to a misperception about the perceived usefulness and the potential usefulness of a product.

I would therefore want to debate about the following statement: The authors should also take prior knowledge of the students about the products in to account. This will reduce the bias of the students towards certain products.


Moldovan, S., Goldenberg, J., & Chattopadhyay, A. (2011). The different roles of product originality and usefulness in generating word-of-mouth. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 28(2), 109-119.