All posts by Riccardo Ricci

Back To the Taco: When Consumers Troll Their Ice Cream Back


Looking backwards, the late ‘90s had quite some powerful stuff for kids: embarrassing boybands (and girlbands), videogames on floppy disks, the first Playstation, Oasis, Blink 182, Yo-Yo, and much more. In particular, in those days, Italian kids were in love with a brand new product: the Winner Taco. Winner Taco was an ice cream produced by Algida (which is how in Italy we call the Unilever brand “Ola”), and there was nothing nearly as cool when it was launched in 1998. Nor as delicious. Then a few years later, in 2001, Winner Taco disappeared from our cafes and supermarkets. End of the story? Not this time. Some 10 years later, those kids have grown into the first generation of social network users. And one day, a group appears on Facebook: “Bring back the Winner Taco.”taco4_jpg_485x0_crop_upscale_q85

 The group quickly becomes a community in which users share jokes, motivational posters, but also memories from the “good old days.”
But the group is not only a gathering place for nostalgic youngsters; it is also very active, and with a clear strategy in mind. Indeed, users start trolling Algida’s official Facebook page. Every time a post, picture, video et cetera is published on that channel, immediately users start to post pictures or jokes with a common denominator: bring Winner Taco back. The phenomenon grows in intensity and continuity, to the point that Algida cannot use its channel anymore. Interestingly, Dutch and Swedish Winner Taco fans put the same pressure on Ola and SB Glace, respectively. Bottom line: on January  2014 the following post appears on Algida’s page:

"There is trace of a great comeback.."
“There is trace of a great comeback..”

Continue reading Back To the Taco: When Consumers Troll Their Ice Cream Back

Hitchhiking 2.0: See You On the Road

“Damn,” said I, “I’ll just hitchhike on that highway . . .”
Jack Kerouac, “Good Blonde”

“I hitchhiked to New York. Please, do not put me in any category with fucking Kerouac.”     Dan Fante, Interview

 hitchhiker-88746-530-644When talking about hitchhiking, some of us think about summer holidays, travelling with a backpack, a few friends, little money, hitting the road and living an adventure. Others might recall Jack Kerouac, and his bohemian lifestyle, in which hitchhiking was part of his rebellion against society. For the more mundane ones, hitchhiking is a last resort when things go wrong and a lift is desperately needed. To sum up, unless you are Kerouac, probably hitchhiking is not something you do systematically. Rather, it is either a backup plan, or the main plan, but only for a circumscribed period.

This changes with Letzgo, a brand new Italian app for hitchhikers 2.0. Letzgo was launched a few weeks ago, and is currently operative only in Milan. If things go well, the developers want to extend it to other Italian cities and also internationally. How does it work? Conceptually, Letzgo is similar to BlaBlaCar. Indeed, users carpool, i.e. travel together sharing a car. The difference with BlaBlaCar is the kind of trip users do. Ideally, Letzgo users will carpool to travel short distances, within the city, while generally carpooling is for longer distances. To put it differently, while BlaBlaCar competes against trains, planes and “traditional” cars, Letzgo competes against urban public transportation, like buses, metros and trams.

Let’s see the app more closely: in the first place, users have to register on the platform, specifying if they are interested in being just passengers or drivers as well. Continue reading Hitchhiking 2.0: See You On the Road

Viewers and Reviewers: the YouTube Challenge to Amazon

When Amazon started its website in 1995, it was meant as a place to build a community of like-minded souls, pooled together by the passion for books (Pinch and Kesler, 2011). In this context, selling books wasn’t the only point of Amazon. The mission was to recreate the atmosphere of local bookstores, where customers feel “at home” and receive advice. Amazon wanted to offer specific suggestions for books, exactly as local bookstores do. So, professionals were hired to write book reviews. In accordance with the idea of building a community, Amazon encouraged members to write their own reviews, sharing opinions and feelings. Then, Amazon realized users were indeed providing reviews of the books for free, and they could provide many more reviews than paid editors. So, Amazon dismissed his professional editors, and let users do all the work. But why would users do that?

Malone et al. (2010) indicate three main motivating factors, namely love, glory and money. All three factors play a role here, even though to different extents.

– Love: is the most important factor. People write review because they love the product, for enjoyment, to help others, and to develop a sense of community.

Glory: since Amazon ranks its reviewers, a part of the motivation to write a review lies in desire for glory. The more helpful reviews you write, the higher in the rankings you will find yourself.

Money: top reviewers are often sent products. The higher you are in the rankings, the more likely you are to get freebies.

Continue reading Viewers and Reviewers: the YouTube Challenge to Amazon

Subs & Nerds : The ITASA Community

Internet is changing the way economic actors perceive themselves. Nowadays, the web allows people to be less and less passive consumers, and to become active ones. Even more interestingly, sometimes people can cross the bridge and become themselves producers of goods. An example of this is ITASA.

ITASA is a web community which produces and publishes Italian translations of foreign TV-Series. These translations can be paired to video files which can be downloaded from the web (illegally, unfortunately, and so you guys shouldn’t try this at home). In this way, ITASA allows many Italian users to enjoy Tv-Series months before they are dubbed and broadcasted on Italian television.

Interestingly enough, ITASA is an entity operating on the market, but not playing according to the traditional market rules. Indeed, its products (subtitles) are not sold, but donated. This means, in the first place, that translators will not get a single cent for their work. They have to regularly dedicate their spare time to translate subtitles, and on top of that do it quickly (nerds are indeed ravenous when it comes to their beloved TV-series). In addition, there is no monetary (or even non-monetary) exchange between the producers and the consumers. ITASA offers to its users the possibility to donate an amount of money of their choice to contribute to the survival of the community, but this is contribution is non-mandatory.

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A not-so-nerd user (the circles indicate the level of the user, and this user is at the starting level)

How can ITASA survive? Clearly, contributors do not work for money. But they do work for love and glory (Malone et al., 2010). Continue reading Subs & Nerds : The ITASA Community