All posts by dimtsek

From ZipCar to BuzzCar

Zipcar is a car sharing company founded back in 2000 and its business model lies in the fact that consumers may need a car only for a few hours, only for a specific occasion, and   also in different places. Robin Chase is the person behind Zipcar; not only an entrepreneurial type, but also a visionary. In the following video you can see her explaining a few years ago, how Zipcar can contribute to emission reduction by increasing consumers’ usage value.

However, the market is quite versatile and therefore a good entrepreneur needs to make quick and decisive moves. A few weeks ago, it was announced that Zipcar was bought by Avis for $500 million (see here for a post in NY Times) and Robin Chase founded Buzzcar.  Robin Chase moved a step further and let consumers rent their own cars. As she says in the following video: Instead of investing in a car, we invested in a community!!!
With this company, “the peers are now in partnership with the company….creating shared value and strengthening each other….the so-called Peer Inc…” Continue reading From ZipCar to BuzzCar

Facial Recognition Ad

Companies are on a quest to find more and more innovative ways to advertise their products. Not only advertise them, but even create some intrigue and become viral. And it is very positive, when you see non-profit organizations following the same rules and applying these techniques for more “noble” purposes.

Plan UK is a non-profit organization that helps  children in third-world countries. A few weeks ago, Plan UK initiated the “Because I am a Girl” campaign, introducing a ground-breaking interactive ad on a bus stop in Oxford Street (London). The interactive billboard advertisement uses a facial recognition software with a high-definition camera to scan pedestrians and identify whether a man or woman is standing in front of the screen. Accordingly, it shows different content. Females will be shown the full 40-second video of the “Because I’m a Girl” campaign that promotes sponsoring a girl to receive proper education in a developing country. Males won’t be able to see the full ad and will be directed to Plan UK’s website instead. The aim is to highlight the fact that women and girls across the world are denied choices and opportunities on a daily basis due to poverty and discrimination.

Gabriella Cilmi interacts with Plan ad Continue reading Facial Recognition Ad

Past, Present & Future of Co-Creation

The following presentation offers a very nice overview of the recent history of co-creation within business environments, from its foundations to its prospectful future!! It clearly shows that the need to involve consumers was there, just the means had to be improved. Well, the future is definitely technology dependent. But all the signs indicate that consumers will become more and more active in the business processes…that is the future of competition.

Dimitris T.

Music Industry in need of new Business models

The music industry has clearly changed. The music industry has turned digital. That’s a fact. Traditional models do not apply anymore. Distribution rules shifted towards online channels. The main distribution of music comes in digital formats through digital environments. The industry is in need of new business models. A few years ago, Trent Reznor, the mind behind the band Nine Inch Nails, decided to change the rules. He left the big record companies, and decided to distribute the band’s albums through their website, for free! However, he managed to create strong bonds with the fans and offered exclusive offers to make the traditional formats of the album more attractive.

Another example discussed in class relates to the pricing methods followed. Radiohead, an English rock band from UK, decided to work interdependently and self-released their seventh album, In Rainbows (2007), as a digital download for which customers could set their own price. The Radiohead experiment set new standards for the industry.

Successful or not in terms of profits, these approaches showed that the future of music business is based on different dynamics between b(r)ands and consumers. All aspects of the value system have changed and new models need to be implemented.

Dimitris T.

Online Grocery Shopping: Current practices and a glance of the future

Inspired from the Tesco case we discussed last week in class, I would like to share two videos related to Tesco and the technologies that the company pursues. One of the distinguishing approaches that made Tesco quite successful was the introduction of Online Grocery Home Shopping. The idea is pretty obvious and straightforward, they reallocate some of consumers’ effort needed (to come to the store and carry the shopping back home) to their processes (hand pick the items you want and deliver them at home). Actually, it may be strange to a lot to use such a system, but although in theory the company loses the retail impulsive behavior of some consumers, they have a very interesting channel to apply all their services, their offers, personalized to the fullest. See how it works:


In addition, we also talked about the recent developments in Tesco: Mobile Apps. Whether that is in a metro station while waiting (see an example here), or just by scanning a barcode of every item you hold, in any place, at any time:

However, when talking about these new technologies, we also have to take into consideration, who the target group is, and what may the reactions be (see for example the response of the person in 1:25). Interesting to see whether this will indeed be teh fitire of shopping!!

Dimitris T.


How can giving power to your consumers turn you down?

Giving the stage to your consumers to raise their voices can be beneficial for everyone. Everyone seems happy within such a system. Companies get a lot of insight about their preferences and needs (in a rather cheap way), you get bonded to them, you get them committed. Consumers are willing to participate because they feel they belong to a community of look-a-likes and they love the freedom to raise their thoughts, feelings, concerns. Well, let me stick to that last word…concerns!

Yesterday I read in the news the failure of McDonald’s Twitter strategy. They wanted to create an interface where consumers would share their positive experiences regarding the McDonald’s restaurants. Therefore they created the account @McDStories (currently deleted). However, they neglected the fact that word-of-mouth can be also negative. Given the past reputation of the restaurant chain, I doubt that giving the freedom to all consumers to speak up was the rightest choice! It started as a few tweets from the brand (“Meet some of the hard-working people dedicated to providing McDs with quality food every day #McDStories”). But soon it ended full of tweets such as :


Result: Not only the bad publicity and the need to switch down the account, but also consumers bonded even more against McDonald’s and made the story viral. Not only they failed to create brand value from their customers but rather they lost control of the negative brand associations promoted by their “customers” (if we can call them customers).

Empowering your consumers is a good strategy. A very good and promising strategy. But it is not a panacea. It is not a strategy to put all your other worries aside. It needs control, it requires that companies set the boundaries of the communities within which the brand stories would prevail.

Lesson learned? Time will tell…

Dimitris T.

Crowdsourcing Tourism

Another synonym word of open innovation widely used (especially) in the business literature is Crowdsourcing…”the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or community (crowd) through an open call” (see Wikipedia).

An interesting industry which lately uses the voices of the crowd, an industry which empowers consumers into creating value and also into supporting the brand values is tourism. Traditionally, tourism industry operated on a one to many communication scheme where ministries of tourism held responsible for the promotion and the branding of tourist destination abroad.

india future of change

India was one of the first countries that officially invited everyone in order to promote and create brand value. And by everyone, I mean everyone!! Locals, tourists, professionals, amateurs, young, old, educated, uneducated…Everyone. How? By using open discussion interfaces online, by asking and interviewing people in the streets. By introducing initiatives that engage people to India. India as a country, as a destination, as a cultural heritage ( By organizing contests, they gave incentives to the people to participate in this discussion.

Back in Europe, Cyprus recently initiated a branding project in order to revitalize the brand value of Limassol. How they do it? By combining private initiative and public support. By engaging everyone in discussion. By extensively using social media and interacting with locals and tourists. Based on the joint input, they created a new city logo, and a new branding campaign!!

Lastly, Sweden offered the control of the official Twitter account to the people of Sweden. Sweden in that way, has created the world’s most democratic account. The direct results: In one month, the number of followers increased drastically and word of mouth made that story viral. Not bad to start with. Time will tell whether this utter freedom can have beneficial long term effects or will just end in….loss of control of the content and abuse!!

Do you know other examples? Local or global? Would love it if you shared!!

Dimitris T.

Open Innovation & Lead Users

There are two sources of information. On one side, consumers possess information regarding their needs, preferences, tastes. On the other side, companies have information about their targets, capabilities, budget restrictions. Companies are trying to get access to consumers’ information. they want to know what they want, what they need, in order to offer the best match possible. Although advances in modeling allow for more accurate predictions of consumer choice behavior, there is still a lot left unknown. A lot is remained probabilistic. Continue reading Open Innovation & Lead Users

Dark Side of Personalization

We have extensively talked about the advantages of offering personalized product recommendations to consumers. These recommendations increase consumers’ decision quality and save them a lot of effort. There are various approaches in personalized recommendation systems either based on past behavior or based on collaborative filtering techniques (see this article on different approaches of recommendation engines).

However, we have to take into account that sometimes personalized recommendations (especially when we passively receive them) feel quite invasive and consumers at some point ignore or even react. Think about the following situation: you visit a website X and look at a specific red t-shirt. You don’t buy it, yet you move continue your browsing. You send a couple of e-mails, you read the news and finally you log in to facebook. On the right banner, you see an ad with this red t-shirt you inspected 1 hour ago. Next morning, you open your computer, you search information about something you saw n TV last night. Google gives you 1million results in less than a second…plus, a red t-shirt on the right banner of Google ads. 

Continue reading Dark Side of Personalization

Choices, Choices!

Whether shopping for clothes or electronics, books or microwave food, consumers have many more options than ever before. The variety of choices today gives us a much better chance of finding something that exactly suits our needs, our personalities, our activities and our bodies. However, those choices can be overwhelming. In his book  “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less,” Barry Schwartz emphasizes the downside of these huge assortments. According to him, as the number of choices grows further, consumers feel overloaded and, as a result, choice becomes a burden rather than a freedom.

However, since we (i.e. the consumers) have easier access to more and more information and alternatives, the chances that there is a product perfectly fitting our preferences exists out there. Traditionally, the rule of 80-20 was overruling all markets. The underlying idea is that 20% of the products make up 80% of the revenues. 

Continue reading Choices, Choices!

Consumer Empowerment: Is it just a trend?

One rich source of information on recent and upcoming trends, , already in 2004 spotted a substantial rising trend regarding the phenomenon of companies working closely with consumers in order to create design, produce, develop or promote their products (Customer Made).

Shifting to the latest consumer trend report of January 2012, we can see that consumers’ active involvement in the value creation process is still thriving. Crowd-based problem solving is expected to be the core source of ideas, especially given that contributing will be more effortless than ever before (Idle Sourcing). One of the facilitating drivers is the increasing capabilities of the available interfaces. Screens are expected to be more interactive and consistently on (and online within “the cloud”) (Screen Culture). Even in situations that were considered difficult to “intrude”, consumers are becoming increasingly active and powerful. Health related mobile applications and online interfaces, gives the opportunity to consumers (patients) to satisfy their implicit desire for control by discreetly tracking and managing their health on their own (DIY Health).

A Dramatic Shift in Marketing

          In the old times, consumer decision making was simple. Consumers had access to limited (but easily handled) information and only a few channels to look for products. The competition was less intense and consumers could have strong preferences among the clearly distinguished alternatives. However, times have changed and the digitization as well as the need for individualization in modern economies have made the situation a bit more complex. The following video (from the advertising company Scholz & Friends) offers a nice illustration of the evolution of marketing throughout the last decades.

Welcome to Consumer Channel Dynamics

Dear students,

The costs of computing power and telecommunications have been dramatically reduced and, in this information intensive economy, products and services have been extensively digitized. In addition, consumers are becoming more and more knowledgeable and demanding and contact firms in many different situations. These consumers require the formation of tailored value creation systems to better match their needs. The emerging challenge for firms is how to best support and activate consumers and also learn about their product needs? Increasingly firms and consumers work closely together in the value creation process. Firms such as Dell and Nike allow their customers to tailor products to their own taste. Other firms like Amazon and Facebook rely heavily on consumer input to create value for other consumers. To be successful, these new business models often use non-conventional marketing channels, and strongly rely on new information technology such as the Internet and mobile technology to interact with consumers.

Continue reading Welcome to Consumer Channel Dynamics