All posts by 343519mo

Make the world a better place while gaming!

That video games are no longer toys for geeks is a development we have seen all around us. Especially in the mobile market we see casual games targeted at all demographics, where the real popular ones can go viral within moments. Trivia Crack is such an example for me, it may have only been weeks ago that only a handful of people were enjoying trivia games in their spare time. Now, the last time I checked my Trivia Crack account, 178 of my Facebook friends had already been using the app! Mobile gaming is apparently hot, and a little surprisingly, so are trivia games.

An interesting concept making smart use of this trend is the newly launched Givling, a mobile game with a broader vision than your average Angry Birds or Candy Crush. A company daring to ask a rather atypical question. What if actual real-world problems could be tackled by playing a simple online trivia game?

Student debt in the US have topped 1.2 trillion dollars and there is little hope for improvement anytime soon. This is the problem the California based start-up Givling now tries to address with its neat little concept. Players of the Givling game are matched up with two other random team mates to form a ‘Funding team’ of three. For 50 cents a round, players gain various trivia questions and can accumulate points doing so. Every day at noon, a daily cash payout will be done to the best performing team. The rest of the accumulated funds will be saved and used to help US students pay off their student loans. Students may apply online to get their student debt paid off through Givling, after which they will be randomly placed somewhere in the ‘Givling Queue’. When the top of the queue is reached, their loan is to be paid off next.

Combining gaming with crowdfunding to tackle a nationwide and growing problem? I must admit, an ambitious and creative endeavor! We must however note that the game has just freshly launched and admit that so far, only 10.000 dollar in total has been collected. Whether or not Givling may actually help solve problems on a large scale, we should give praise to them for approaching online gaming in a new way. Integrating the social aspect of helping out other students while at the same time offering a shot on making some cash, brings greater purpose as well as meaningful competition to the platform. Will enough funders join the project? Well, Agrawal et al. (2013) note how funders in crowdfunding initiatives are not only driven by personal gain, but also by a sense of community participation and, surprisingly, a sense of philanthropy. If Givling manages to successfully tap into these two motivational drivers, the app could really start to make an impact.

So what do you think.. Could social crowdfunding through means of online gaming actually turn out to be the next big thing? And would you participate in such a competition? Why (not)? [accessed: 2-5-2015] [accessed: 2-5-2015] [accessed: 2-5-2015] [accessed: 2-5-2015]

Agrawal et al. (2013) “Some Simple Economics of Crowdfunding,” National Bureau of Economic Research

The long tail or the short tail: The category-specific impact of eWOM on sales distribution

For a long time business has relied on the well-known Pareto principle for explaining their patterns of sales distribution – the rule of thumb stating that roughly 80% of events would come from 20% of the causes. In business this principle was commonly used in stating that 80% of sales would follow from 20% of clients or 20% of products. Then came along the internet and it became apparent that the 80/20 rule lost its explanatory power for certain online businesses. Due to the lower search and reach costs resulting from an online business environment the, by now well-established, theory of the long-tail was proposed to explain for the newly observed sales distribution. This longer tail of niche product sales naturally meant that a smaller proportion of sales came from the ‘head’ of the distribution graph, as is shown in the figure below.


Now we have quickly refreshed your memory on sales distributions, let’s have a look at what this study did. The authors of the study were interested to see how the shapes of the distributions were affected by the electronic word of mouth present in the product group. In this, a distinction between goods rated according to more objective criteria and goods rated according to more subjective criteria was made. The authors reasoned that consumers may apply similar evaluation standards to products with objective attributes such as USB sticks. In this sense people would show high tendency to follow the eWOM evaluation, driving consumers collectively to the most popular products. As a result, the distribution tail would be shortened while the head would be thickened.

Alternatively, for products with high levels of subjective attributes such as books or movies, positive eWOM does not necessarily mean that you as a consumer would personally like the product as well. Finding a product that may fit your personal preferences is difficult, for such highly subjective products the authors reasoned eWOM would help you find products you otherwise wouldn’t. As a result, the distribution tail would get longer while the head would get thinner. These different effects of eWOM were indeed found when studying sales of products with both objective as well as subjective selection criteria. In addition, it was found that for complex products with multiple attributes, eWOM had a similar effect on sales distribution as for products with subjective criteria. This can be explained as consumers’ preferences will start to diversify the more attributes have to be assessed.

Resulting from this study we can conclude that eWOM can show two very different outcomes on sales distribution, depending on the product type you are looking at. Sellers should be aware of this and can optimize their online shelf sizes based on the product type they are offering. Stimulating eWOM as a firm selling simple products with objective selection attributes could for example decrease the need to keep a large product portfolio in stock. Saving costs by letting consumers chat to each other, now who would have thought!

Lee, J., Lee, J. N., & Shin, H. (2011). The long tail or the short tail: The category-specific impact of eWOM on sales distribution. Decision Support Systems, 51(3), 466-479.

Make money in the supermarket!!

Are my products placed in the right shelves? Is my in-store activation plan executed perfectly across all super markets? These are questions marketers of major brands face on a daily basis, and Roamler may have found the most innovative solution to answer them so far!

Major consumer goods enterprises have always relied on field teams to evaluate whether their designed marketing strategies were well-executed in-store. A rather time and resource intensive endeavor, seeing as these would have to travel between all different supermarkets present in our country. The Dutch start-up Roamler noticed how this was causing a problem for major brands and thought up a creative solution to simplify the process. Seeing that most people have smartphones with cameras these days, why can’t we let consumers themselves do the work?

Roamler has made smart use of a number of trends including the power of crowdsourcing, the mobile trend, the trend of gamification and the fact that apps can now operate location based.  These features are built into a slick looking mobile interface in order to bring the concept of value co-creation to the retail industry. In principle, Roamler allows for consumer goods organizations to ask questions or set out tasks to users of the platform. The users closest to the task’s location will get an update and may opt to complete the task in return for either money, points or badges. Typically, such tasks will include evaluations of the shelf backed up with a photograph.

According to Saarijärvi et al. (2013) it is important in any value co-creation effort to have a clear picture of what value is created for whom. In this scenario it is the information that is of value to the companies. Companies can use this real-time information to quickly assess where the retail execution could be improved, and mobilize their field employees to make quick adjustments accordingly. For the users it is the monetary reward as well as the possibility to ‘level up’ and unlock new features that creates value to them. In short, the company quickly gets the information it needs, while the user earns some instant benefits for a minor effort. A classic win-win scenario.

Not surprisingly, this simple but effective use of co-creating value between consumers and consumer goods brands was not left unnoticed. In 2011, the year Roamler started, the start-up won the Accenture Innovation Audience Award in the category Media, Communication & High Tech.

Having read about this easy way to earn some extra cash, you may have already whipped out your smartphone and opened up your appstore. Unfortunately, Roamler follows a rather strict entry program and only users who have received a personal invite may participate. Such an invite can only be sent by Roamler users who have at least reached ‘level 3’. When selected, Roamler offers a training program which the new user needs to complete before being sent out on real tasks. This way, Roamler tries to build an exclusive community of high quality Roamlers which can be chartered to participate in tasks of the various clients.

Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P., & Kuusela, H. (2013). Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications. European Business Review, 6-19.