All posts by deshnakhedoe

Google & Facebook helping out Nepal.

On the 25th of April 2015, Nepal was struck by the worst earthquake the country had seen within 80 years. Around 40 to 50 villages were (almost) completely destroyed, especially in the North-West of Kathmandu.

Currently, the amount of deaths counted is 7,040. However, the Nepalese prime minister Sushil Koraila has stated that this number will most probably rise above the 10.000 deaths. Besides this, thousands of people were hurt and the damage that the earthquake caused in general is enormous.`

The country is still looking for survivors of  the earthquake. In addition, the demand for food and hygiene is extremely high. There are a lot of victims with dirty wounds that got infected. Doctors and nurses are trying to reach the stricken areas, but a lot of them are hard to reach. Food preparation has become really hard through a shortage of pots and pans. However, the most urgent problem at this point is the lack of shelter. As lots of houses are destroyed most of the survivors currently live on the streets.

As this is a very serious natural disaster, people all over the world are joining forces to get Nepal the help they need as well as companies. Google and Facebook, two of the greatest information sources, are also showing their help, but in a different way.

Safety check

Facebook has come up with a “safety check” that the company had already presented last October however, it is only activated when an actual disaster occurs. People in the stricken area get a notification of Facebook, based on the location of their last log in, asking them if  they are safe. As soon as they have clicked on safe, all their Facebook friends will get to see a status update that will notify them that the person is safe. This is a new integrated tool of Facebook that involves the need of different users. On the one hand  it offers a form of relieve to family members and friends that hear the terrible news. On the other hand it is a fast way for the person in the disaster area to notify the people around them that they are safe.

Person Finder

Likewise, Google has made an effort to use its information source to help out the victims of Nepal. They activated their Person Finder. Through this webpage users can report if they are looking for someone or if they have information about the disaster area. Family and friends can for instance, render someone as missing by posting personal information about the missing person and for instance upload a picture. The search option is also available through text message. The search engine currently consists of 4800 cases.


A huge setback, in my opinion, for both integrated tools is the availability to internet. In the disaster area it is likely that after an earthquake smartphones broke down or internet connection or cell phone reception dropped out. In addition, Nepal is not a very wealthy country, which makes the access to Facebook less likely. This is why I wonder how successful these tools will be and what both companies will do to make access easier in such cases.


Crowdfunding getting personal.

This week the multinational Philips announced to stop sponsoring the shirts of football club PSV after being there main sponsor for 34 years. PSV and Philips had the longest sponsor relationship in world history. Philips will only step down from their title as main sponsor and  will continue to sponsor the club on other fronts and the PSV stadion will still be called the Philips Stadion. However, for a lot of fans this news came as a shock. Philips has always been the main sponsor of the club and has caused for a lot of brand awareness as well. A great amount of fans were extremely disappointed but also concerned that no one at this point will provide the club with decent shirts.

As a response a group of PSV-supporters decided to try to become head sponsor of the club, simply through crowdfunding. The group of fans tries to include as many other fans as possible. They are currently verifying if the demand for the idea is sufficient. If it is they will further work out there plans.

For the football industry this might actually be a radical innovative idea. If the crowdfunding idea works out it creates opportunities within other football clubs world-wide.

Currently, the group of fans would need about 600.000 fans to spend 10 euros each in order to collect a sufficient amount for the head sponsorship.

Crowdfunding is becoming more and more of a solution nowadays. Another great example of this is the crowdfunding campaign: Scusa Roma.  A woman from the Netherlands that lives in Toscane decided to set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the damage that was done in Rome by football hooligans. As a response other people started campaigns for the same cause.

The following graph shows the development of crowdfunding volume on crowdfunding platforms since 2009. We see an extreme growth since then as people become increasingly interested in alternative forms of investment capital.

(Statista, 2015)

The examples in the football field are merely two out of a huge amount of examples for what people use crowdfunding nowadays. The most commonly known example is startups that need funding for development of their products. However, as in the Scusa Roma example, there are loads of people that also use crowdfunding platforms for a good cause. Another example is the Hakiki – Fight poverty through social enterprises – project. A group of students want to help villages in Tanzania with developing  and decided to run a lot of events as for instance dinners, parties or benefit nights. However, to double the amount they have already raised they decided to start a campaign on Indiegogo.

These examples show that crowdfunding is not only for actual companies or start-ups anymore and not solely focused on investment. In contrast, they are getting closer and closer to our personal lives.


User-driven firms vs. Designer-driven firms. Which products do consumers prefer and why?

Over the past years, researchers have identified a new role that users can fulfil in the value creation process of firms. User-driven designs have proven to be strategically effective in many different industries. Examples are Apache (software), Quirky (household products), Muji (furniture) and Threadless (apparel). User-driven design can be defined by an innovative approach in which organizations encourage their user communities in generating ideas for innovative products. In this way the users take the lead in the design process by submitting ideas based on their wishes and needs. This is an easy and effective way for the company to involve users and might be more successful since, the real time needs of the consumers are taken into account.

The article by Dahl, Fuchs and Schreier (2014) focuses on the impact of this innovative strategy on non-participating, observing users. The study has found that the implications of this effect can differ. Therefore the authors tried to investigate why and when consumers actually prefer products of user-driven firms in order to provide more insight for user-driven markets.

Three experimental studies conducted in this research have resulted in interesting findings. First of all, non-participating, observing consumers tend to buy user-generated products rather than products from designer-driven firms. This preference can be explained by social identification. The fact that consumers are also users and their social identities tend to connect to the user-designers. They feel empowered in the process of being involved in generating designs.

Secondly, after further investigation the authors came to find that the social identification account can predict when the aforementioned effect does not materialize. For instance, it appears that when consumers feel dissimilar to participating users, the effect diminishes. The study has proven that consumers feel dissimilar based on significant demographics (i.e. gender) or when they feel that they do not belong to the social group of participating users (i.e. non-experts). Another case in which the aforementioned effect diminishes is if the user-driven firm decides to be selective in participation. Meaning, the firm does not allow every user to participate in the idea generation process, but just a selective group of users. This can lead to a feeling of isolation or social exclusion for observing consumers.

What I find striking in this research is the fact that observing, non-participating users do prefer user-generated products, while they were never involved in the process. I would understand such an effect if the consumer participated in the process. However, in this case the product designed by the firm itself could be way better since the wishes of the observing consumer were not taken into account at all. Meaning, because the observing consumers know that the products are user-generated they would rather buy that product, because of social identification. During the research they were informed about the production situation and I think they would therefore go for the ideal situation based on social identification. Therefore I cannot help but wonder, would the findings still be the same if the consumer did not know if the product was from a user-driven firm or designer-driven firm?

Source: Dahl, D. W., Fuchs, C., & Schreier, M. (2014). Why and When Consumers Prefer Products of User-Driven Firms: A Social Identification Account.Management Science.