Today, one of my group members stained my suede jacket with permanent marker whilst discussing our business idea. After panicking, the first thing I did is type the sentence “how to get ink out of suede” into Google. The pages I end up at are online communities, in which people share their experiences on the same problem and provide me with the knowledge I need to remove the stain. This example might sound very familiar to you: There are more than 2550 of such communities worldwide! These online knowledge sharing platforms provide a space for social interaction where individuals can obtain knowledge and feedback and exchange opinions on certain topics, such as stain removal.
Have you ever been listening to the last track of your favorite artist and wondered: “What does this song really mean?”
Since 2009, a community of fans of Rap, R&B and Soul music has been trying to decipher the lyrics of thousands of songs for the enjoyment of the general public. To this end, the founders of the website rapgenius.com have applied crowdsourcing to the annotation of songs’ lyrics.
This is how it works: Anyone can create an account on rapgenius.com and start annotating the lyrics of any of the songs on the website. If the song in question is not on the database yet, the user has the possibility to add its lyrics himself. The user will then select the words or lines that he wants to annotate and suggest an explanation. Other users will then rate the annotations and suggest changes. If one of the annotations is well rated by other users and is validated by the site’s moderators, it will appear in a pop-up window when curious internet users will point with their mouse at the words that the annotation intends to explain. Good contributions are rewarded with points named “Rap IQs”. Continue reading Rap Genius – The Real Meaning of Music
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.
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
Video game industry is changing fast. More than changing, it is expanding to new unexploited segments of the market. Since the 70’s, video games have being increasing in complexity, both in graphics and playability. The first video games, like spaces invaders were no more than a handful of dots gathered in a way that reminded you a spacecraft. Right now, video games such as GTA display near to reality graphics in huge virtual worlds. Also the learning curve to play those games became bigger, making almost impossible to fully control the game.
All this features are highly appreciated by hardcore customers, but they leave out of the industry basically everyone else. This left unexploited a huge segment of the population that also happened to be the segment with the highest purchasing power. With this in mind, Marc Pincus creates Zynga in 2007, one of the first social videogame companies and without any doubt, the most successful. The proposition? Easy to play games with simple graphics. The business model? Freemium: free to play games with premium content only accessible by payment.
Many products and services are offered to consumers for free, such as Google, e-mail, movies and sometimes even touchable products such as razorblades or samples (Anderson, 2008). But did you know these products are not only available for free, but that you could actually get paid to use them? Moneymiljonair is an online savings program that rewards its users for active participation. The website applies many of the concepts mentioned by Anderson (2008) to offer free products and free money. With this strategy, they have already paid out more than 13 million euro to its users. But how do they do it?
In the aftermath of the 9/11, Scott Heiferman felt that something had changed in the way people interacted together. They would start to care about each other and talk in the streets while neighbours would meet for the first time after years of living in the same street. He felt that most of the time, people didn’t even came across each other while living in the same area as they didn’t have the opportunity for. He then decided to found Meetup.com, a website that would “use the internet to help people get off the internet” and connect communities together. There we were, 9 months later, the baby of the 9/11 was born.
Meetup.com is a platform where you can register and attend any kind of events. The users don’t pay any registration or participation fee, making the service free for 90% of its users. On the other hand, organizers of meetings have to pay a premium, making it an unusual freemium model as Meetup does not even run ads. However, the main revenue for the organizers themselves is the recognition and fame to be part of the “organizer community” as well as the possible future benefits generated by the meetings. In accordance with the principle explaining the success of collective intelligence systems, money is thus not the only reason behind the success of Meetup. Furthermore, all the meetups are completely independent, giving all creativity and decisional power to the users.
Myfitnesspal (1) is a diet app with a food tracker, to help people keep track of what they eat. Users can set targets on their weight, the calories consumed and sports practiced. The app interacts with the users in many ways, for example, if you entered your sport exercises you are allowed to eat more calories on that day. There are no monetary costs involved for users, but the users have to put some effort into using the product: they need to add every single item they consumed. The utility, however, is relatively high for most people. Only by adding the food, the app gives you extensive feedback on your behavior. The company promotes sharing your achievements with friends, as this would increase weight-loss. You can give friends permission to view your data, or share your achievements on the large social media platforms.
The company benefits from user data and uses nutritional information for their databases. Users can add foods, information about this food and its barcodes to the database. If someone scans a barcode, he immediately receives all information available on this product and can add this to his own record. Therefore, user participation adds to the quality of the product, which makes them active co-creators of the app. The more information the app contains, the easier the app gets for users. Also, a forum is available to the users, on which they can motivate each other, and blogs offer them more information about food and exercising.
MyFitnessPal is one of the most successful lifestyle and health apps with 40 million users and has been in many top downloading list. However, it is used as an individual food tracker only. With the data available, there are many options for improving the app. The keyword for a successful diet is personalization. In the first place because not everyone wants or needs the same, and secondly because there is a choice overload in diets, foods and possible healthy behavior. A Myfitnesspal Recommendation agent could be the answer for a successful diet. Recommendation agents (RAs) are software agents that elicit the interests or preferences of individual consumers for products, either explicitly or implicitly, and make recommendations accordingly (Xiao & Benbasat, 2007). According to Tsekouras & Li (2014), the ease of generating recommendations is important for a RA to succeed. Because users already provide enormous sets of data, a RA would be easy to create for myfitnesspal. By learning from the available data, Myfitnesspal can observe successful dieting behavior and match this to the users by recommending sports, food and diets (2). The app could provide messages such as: you are over your calorie goal for today. If you walk for 25 minutes you could still reach your goal. Or: You eat more fat than the average person of your height and age. Try to cut down 10 grams per day and lose up to 5kg. In this way, without asking more from its users, MyFitnessPal can help people lose weight even better.
(2) Murthi, B.P.S., & Sarkar, S. (2003). The role of the management sciences in research on personalizaBon. Management Science, 49(10)
Xiao, Bo, and Izak Benbasat. “E-commerce product recommendation agents: use, characteristics, and impact.” MIS Quarterly 31.1 (2007): 137-209.
Tsekouras,D.,& Li T. (2014). A Car & A Room For My Perfect Date: The Role Of Perceived Effort In Personalized RecommendaBons, Working Paper
Are you in for something new that fits your interests and do you want to look further than the ordinary websites? Do you still have room left on your bookmark toolbar for great and unexpected webpages? Go visit StumbleUpon and ‘stumble upon’ your new favorite website!!
StumbleUpon is an online recommendation agent that uses personal preferences of you and others to create so-called virtual communities. These virtual communities consist of like-minded users that share mutual goals or interests and therefore share certain web-surfing behavior. The virtual networks are used to coordinate the websites that users ‘stumble upon’, based on their listed interests and the recommendations of peers and friends (serving as a sort of ‘word-of-mouth’ referral). Don’t worry that the whole website will be full of ads, or that you are secretly redirected to websites only developed by paying advertisers. Only a small part of all StumbleUpon websites are open for advertisers and these ‘stumbles’ will also be matched to the user’s preferences. Besides, also for these websites stumblers can click ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ and rate the content of the page (Stumble Upon). Continue reading I StumbledUpon something…
Simply everything can be bought online nowadays. From mass production products to specific niche products. However, about a third of all online transactions are returned (1). Buying online can result in certain disadvantages compared to buying in an actual store, one of which is the impossibility to physically hold the product, which can in the case of online clothing retailers, result in product returns. E-commerce clothing retailers like Zalando and Wehkamp.nl use a lot of different kind of recommendations to help the customers make satisfactory choices.
When buying clothes online, a customer can not try the article behind his/her computer screen. A customer will not know if the fabric is what the customer wants or how the product will actually look when he/she wears it. Does it look fancy? Slobby? Casual? Formal? And most of all, a customer will never be sure if the clothing actually fits unless he/she tries it on. This disadvantage has to do with the fact that clothing is an experience product characterized by the attributes that need to be experienced before the purchase, like taste, softness or fit (2). According to Xiao and Benbasat (2007), the use of recommendation agents influences the choice of users to a greater extent in the case of these products. What kind of recommendation agents do Zalando and Wehkamp.nl actually have to help customers choose? Continue reading Experiencing clothes behind a computer screen
Nowadays, interactions between consumers and firms are increasing in complexity and intensity. Companies need to learn how to deal with it in order to remain competitive.
Moreover, when looking at the world pyramid of ages, we can see that if a 26 years old male is looking forhis optimal female partner (assuming that “optimal” implies the girl is in the same age range and also that there is only one optimal choice), he has only one in 275,001,000 (- the number of females he already met) chance to meet her. His chances fall even lower if we consider that there is no reason why both partners should be in the same age range. Thus unless the guy is very lucky, he might need some help to find the right partner. Continue reading Recommendation System @Match.com
What if you could learn French for free on your smartphone where and when you want to?
This is exactly what DuoLingo offers. Well, actually if your English is good enough, you could also start learning Spanish, Italian, German or Portuguese. Conversely, if you speak one of these 5 languages, Dutch, Russian, Hungarian or Turkish, you might want to refresh your skills in English. Your lessons will mainly consist in translation exercises adapted to your level of skills in the language of your choice, and hints will be provided to help you when exercises get difficult.
But wait a minute, how can this app offer lessons in 6 languages for free and without any commercials?
Netflix was initially an American company in the business of DVD’s rental and was launched in 1997 and headquartered in California. Its initial core business was renting and mailing DVD’s to their clients. They launched their own website in the same year and developed several new rental models such as the online rental model and the monthly subscription model. At that moment, they had already developed video recommendation systems based on the experience of their customers that they cautiously recorded. For instance, they implemented systems for the clients to express concern about movies and to create movies’ ranking.
However, the market significantly changed over the last ten years with the development of the digital movies at the expense of the physical DVD’s. As a result the market was progressively moving away from the physical DVD’s to a more digital business based market. Netflix has subsequently responded to this trend and has changed dramatically over the last ten years. Continue reading Recommendation system at Netflix
I would like to welcome you to the blog of the Consumer Channel Dynamics seminar. All the posts are extremely interesting and each one of them can be a start of a nice conversation or an inspirational source for your own texts or business ideas. Please spend some time navigating and take a look at the blog rules before posting. I hope you will participate with as much enthusiasm as last year’s students did. If you have any questions, you can send me an e-mail or ask me at the seminar tomorrow.
Our new Consumer Channel Dynamics seminar course starts on Thursday. Watch this blog for many new comments, examples and exciting new business ideas to come up in the next two months as the student teams start their projects and come up with new ideas!
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.