Tag Archives: food

New Ingredient for Your Diet: Virtual Support Communities!


Keywords: Virtual communities; Virtual support communities; Public commitment; Identity-based motivation; Social identity; Weight loss

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                                               Share your progress 🙂

Dear bloggers,

Session 6 of the course Customer-centric Digital Commerce will be about community commitment and sharing economies. The required readings for this session are about why people participate in collaborative consumption and what managers should know about the sharing economy. This blog post will provide some insight into the required literature for this week by showing the effect virtual support communities could have on achieving individual goals, for example weight loss. I hope you feel inspired!

Have you ever wondered why your friends share their holidays, high wines and new clothes on Social Media that much? Do you sometimes feel desperate by watching so much bullsh#t on the day that you have to work on your blog posts? Well, then buy yourself a large Starbucks at the campus and feel energized. But.. does it actually help? I have a better suggestion: open your Instagram or SnapChat App and SHARE YOUR PROGRESS. I can promise you will feel energized as if you drank three Starbucks in a row!

Unfortunately, a new trend is coming where people actually don’t like the Social Media Bloggers since it make people feel the grass is always greener on the other side (you might recognize this). However, you can use that grass to color yours and benefit from it! But.. how?

The answer is simple: grab your mobile phone, open your Instagram and share your personal progress. And yes: this has been confirmed by a very interesting paper.

Academic Paper
Let me introduce you a very inspiring study, named ‘Weight loss Through Virtual Support Communities: A Role for Identity-based Motivation in Public Commitment’’. The authors of this study published their convincing findings in the Journal of Interactive Marketing and concluded that watching others’ success on social media can actually be effective for your own success. In this study, they observed the progress of two different weight-loss communities over a period of four years, which is quite long. They found that those who had shared their progress online had greater success in achieving their weight-loss goals than those who did not share their progress.

The two communities included in the study are ObesityHelp.com, the best website for surgical weight loss support, and WeightWatchers.com, the site for the top lifestyle-oriented weight loss program. Within these sites, individuals can access information or create content via blogs, chat rooms, or comments. They write and share blogs and are encouraged to actively share their progress through both text and pictures.

According to the authors, social identity motivates public commitment in support of goal attainment. The sharing of intimate information and photos about weight loss goals in virtual space seems to be a key factor in motivating behaviors and thus helps people attain their goals. So, actually, people can share the greenness of their grass instead of thinking that it’s always greener on the other side! GO ONLINE AND SHARE YOUR PROGRESS. It might be more effective than just drinking coffee..

Side note: there are four types of virtual support community members:

Which type of community member do you think you are? For example on Instagram?

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Figure 1 | Typology of virtual support community members (Bradford et al., 2017)

Why is it relevant?
Not everyone can get the support they need from other people they interact with in person on a daily basis, for example friends and family. It might be helpful that technology can support community building and goal achievement in a digital world. Virtual Support Communities, such as online blogs, Instagram Blogs, and Facebook allow for accessibility, availability and flexibility in how users represent themselves on their achievements. These communities help participants to keep motivation and strive for progress. It decreases feelings of loneliness and makes people feel more happy and supported.

Virtual Suppo…. what’s that?
Social media can be used to build connections and relationships to have impact on the world. Jim Rawson says social media can build a virtual community in which to transform the sharing of ideas into real life endeavors. He is an academic professor at Georgia Regents University and his primary research interest is health policy, process improvement and innovative educational techniques. You should watch this video if you want a detailed explanation of what virtual support communities can do for online users today. Examples of virtual support communities are blogs on Instagram, Facebook and several webpages.

Click on the following link to watch the TedTalk of Jim Rawson on Youtube: TedTalk.

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Figure 2 | Example of Virtual Support Community on Instagram (wdtv.com, 2018)

Conclusion – ”Sharing the triumphs and tribulations of your weight loss journey with other members of an online virtual support community plays an important role in achieving success, according this new study. The study examines the role of virtual communities and public commitment in setting and reaching weight loss goals.” – Bradford et al. 2017

Critical Note
Strength: the study provides a new definition of virtual support communities by developing a typology of different users. This typology is based on both beneficiary focus and the breadth of sharing.

Strength: the study contributes an explanation of how the balance between compliance and co-creation influences opportunities for public commitment in Virtual Support Communities. Prior literature called for additional research into roles for value creation in online communities. The authors of this study provide answers to this demand. 

Weakness: the authors do not explain the limitations of their study, they only discuss their contribution to prior literature. A critical note towards their own work is missing.

Weakness: the authors used two samples from the following communities: obesityhelp.com and weightwatchers.com. Both communities focus on lifestyle-oriented weight loss. The results of this study thus might be low in generalization since online communities differ in the subjects they are focusing on. It might be that sharing progress around for example career might be less positively working on others than the progress of weight loss. Losing weight is kind of health related and people would therefore feel more emotionally attached towards their ‘friends’. For sharing progress around careers, it might be that envy comes into play.

Suggestion: further research that investigate the effect of virtual support communities should incorporate several distinct online communities. Communities that both differ in user types (recruiters, learners, etc.) and are focused on different topics (career, study, health, etc.). Moreover, further research should make a critical note around their own work. This study doesn’t provide limitations, which is disadvantageous for readers’ confidence.

 

Are you ready to share your progress? I hope you feel inspired 🙂 

 

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Bibliography
Tonya Williams Bradford, Sonya A. Grier, Geraldine Rosa Henderson, Weight Loss Through Virtual Support Communities: A Role for Identity-based Motivation in Public Commitment, Journal of Interactive Marketing, Volume 40, 2017, Pages 9-23, ISSN 1094-9968.

Author
D. Verpalen
374199
Erasmus University, The Netherlands

 

FlavorPrint: Personalizing your recipes through your tastes


How amazing would it be if you knew every meal you cooked would fit your tastes? McCormick & Company, a major player in the flavor industry, is reinventing traditional FMCG business models through its data-driven, customer-focused offerings. While the company generally manufactures and distributes spices, seasonings, and other products over 125 countries and territories (Amazon Web Services, n.d.), a shift has occurred from a product-centered company to a business model in which the entire customer value is achieved through a comprehensive consumer journey.

McCormick is continually moving towards innovative solutions to reach customers relative to competitors or FMCG companies in other sectors. The expected sales target of $5bn by the end of 2019 will come from e-commerce, innovation through platforms, and acquisitions of other companies (Nunes, 2017); evidently, digitization is driving the company’s growth. In 2014, McCormick created a spinoff company named Vivanda, through which a transformative product called FlavorPrint was developed (Nash, 2015).

FlavorPrint

FlavorPrint is ‘a technology that matches people with food they love’ (FlavorPrint, 2017). When users sign up to McCormick’s recipe platform, they are asked to fill out initial questions about their food preferences. Their recipe search behavior on the platform will continuously adapt the user’s ideal taste palate to recommend recipes that fit the user perfectly. FlavorPrint ‘combines sensory science and culinary science’ to ‘offer personalized recommendations for recipes, meals, and eventually wine pairings’ (Amazon Web Services, n.d.). FlavorPrint is able to change a person’s cooking habits by offering exciting alternatives that are customized to the user (while promoting McCormick’s products) (FlavorPrint, 2017).

Value to Consumers

Vivanda’s FlavorPrint follows a number of mass customization (MC) drivers while requiring little to no investment by the consumer, and consumers participate in the service because it offers them significant product utility. The extra costs for consumers are low; the quality of recommendations is high, no financial investment is necessary to use the service, and the effort of signing up to the platform is relatively low (Tsekouras, 2018). Furthermore, the FlavorPrint service works automatically, meaning that the consumer does not have to take any specific action to use the service, other than signing up to the platform. In short, FlavorPrint’s predictive analytics technology has made recipe selection much easier and more likeable, while demanding little time and effort from consumers.

Efficiency Criteria and the Future of Predictive Analytics in Food

In 2013, McCormick initiated a small beta program for its new technology. While a 1% increase in sales is very large in the industry, FlavorPrint quickly grew to 100,000 participants (while still in beta mode) and drove sales up by 4.9% (Amazon Web Services, n.d.). This was a sign that the company needed to ensure scalability for its platform, to allow millions of users to participate.

While financial data and statistics regarding platform usage have not been published, Vivanda has officially spun off from McCormick. In 2016, Vivanda announced a strategic partnership with and investment from German software giant SAP. This collaboration will ‘help our food industry partners to grow profitably by delivering increasingly personalized experiences and outcomes directly to customers’, according to E.J. Kenney, SVP Consumer Products Industry at SAP (SAP, 2016). The partnership indicates that Vivanda has shifted its strategy from focusing on McCormick customers to delivering its service to various players in the food and beverage industry; by targeting a wide range of food and beverage customers, Vivanda’s growth seems inevitable.

Drawbacks

It will be interesting to see what the future will hold for Vivanda and the use of predictive analytics in food. McCormick evidently derives great value from the technology, but one has to wonder if the technology has its criticisms pertaining to a possible lack of understanding of consumer behavior or privacy issues. For example, while the technology takes into account various contextual factors such as consumer budget and nutritional objectives while recommending foods, changing lifestyle situations may prove it difficult for the technology to adapt fully to consumer’s lives.

Conclusion

Although FlavorPrint does not directly offer a new revenue stream, the new possibilities for consumer packaged goods firms to reach customers indicate a potential for significant impact on future sales for Vivanda clients. Customization/personalization lies at the heart of the service, which is why the business model provides companies with a way to target consumers much more directly than through traditional marketing.

Will you use FlavorPrint to find new recipes? Does the company have a bright future? Let me know in the comments!

 

References

Amazon Web Services. (n.d.). AWS Case Study: McCormick. [online] Available at: https://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/mccormick/ [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

FlavorPrint. (2017). FlavorPrint. [online] Available at: https://www.myflavorprint.com/ [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Nash, K. (2015). Tech Spin-off from Spice Maker McCormick Puts CIO in the CEO Seat. [online] WSJ. Available at: https://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2015/04/01/tech-spin-off-from-spice-maker-mccormick-puts-cio-in-the-ceo-seat/ [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Nunes, K. (2017). Innovation central to McCormick’s growth strategy. [online] Food Business News. Available at: http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2017/04/Innovation_central_to_McCormic.aspx?ID={CD115D1F-0E2B-4AE5-8295-8ED5DD8C1516}&page=1 [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

SAP. (2016). SAP and Vivanda Serve Up FlavorPrint Technology. [online] Available at: https://news.sap.com/sap-and-vivanda-serve-up-flavorprint-technology/ [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Tsekouras, D. (2018). CCDC Lecture 3.

Making some extra dough with Dominos’ dough.


User-generated products nowadays full fill the needs of consumers all over the world. Nowadays, companies involve people more and more in the idea generation of products.  Most companies see many benefits of the wisdom of the crowd and try to use the creative ideas of people by rewarding them with money.

Research has shown that user-generated products are sold roughly twice as much as designer-generated products within the first year. Also, first-year sales revenue of user-generated products are three times higher than designer-generated products (Nishikawa, 2013).

Like other companies such as Nike and Coca-Cola, Domino’s Pizza started exploring their market and the opportunities of user-generated products. Domino’s Pizza launched, in July 2014, their user-generated product website called ‘Pizza Mogul’.

Pizza Mogul allows anyone in Australia to create their own pizza with Pizza Chef. When you’re done creating your pizza and making a name for your pizza, you have to log onto Facebook so you can share the pizza you’ve created. With this concept, Domino’s Pizza also create awareness on social media in order for the user to complete the process. After the whole process is done, the pizza will be listed on the Domino’s menu in minutes.

However, it doesn’t end here! Users are able to earn money with their created pizzas. You can earn between 25c and $4.25 per pizza. In addition, you can also donate a percentage to charity. The leaderboards show top earning Moguls (users), Top Earning Pizzas, and the biggest givers to charity. Leaderboard create competition and a fun factor among the Moguls. Besides money, people can earn rewards in form of badges and bonuses.

You might think creating pizzas isn’t profitable, but Pizza Mogul proves you wrong when showing you the leaderboards. #Pizza_master already earned $33,540 selling 19393 pizzas on Pizza Mogul, where the number two and three respectively earned $27,385 and $12,332. People like buying pizzas made by users rather than the company itself.

In return, Domino’s can use the pizza names without giving any royalty for it. However, they give you a royalty when selling your pizza.

So with the trend of companies trying to involve customers in the creation of products, companies should get more and more innovative when “luring” customers to their brand. As mentioned above, users can earn a fair amount of money when creating a product they like, and also like others to enjoy the product they make. Do you think that companies would need to attract users on other ways than the way domino’s does right now?

References:

https://www.pizzamogul.com.au

Nishikawa, Hidehiko and Schreier, Martin and Ogawa, Susumu, User-Generated Versus Designer-Generated Products: A Performance Assessment at Muji (September 5, 2012). International Journal of Research in Marketing ,Volume 30, Issue 2, June 2013, Pages 160–167. Available at SSRN:http://ssrn.com/abstract=2141751

Co-Creation with Food Allergies


Many people have developed an allergy for some certain food. It looks like some kind of trend nowadays; a lot of people are deleting some ingredients in their daily meals. Some people are just trying a new diet, hoping they will lose weight. But the amount of people who really have an allergy is high. It is very difficult for those people to control what they eat. When they cook themselves they can easily check all the ingredients. Therefore it is really difficult for them to eat in a restaurant, because they have no control. Those restaurants also want to satisfy their customers, they are also concerned with corporate social responsibility (CSR). There must become accessible information for the restaurant about how to respond on those particular customers. The main problem is the lack of information of the employees. Most of the time the employees do not know which ingredients are in the dishes. Sometimes, they do not want to admit this and as a result they do give a wrong advice. Second, the employees are somewhat uncertain about the ingredients, and they will ask the cook. They come back and look at least as uncertain as before, this affects the customer. The customer will become even more insecure, because no know really knows if it will cause damage, as it happens an allergic reaction.

Restaurants need to deal with this issue. This has influence on the entire business, the menu formulations, and the methods of obtaining ingredients, maintenance of the ingredients’ information, employee training, cooking and storage. It is about the whole design until the meal is places on the table. The process must become easier for the restaurant as well as for the customer. Therefore they need mobile devices, like an smartphone or an tablet. This can be installed as an app on the customers’ device or an mobile device owned by the restaurant. The customer can see which dishes are appropriate for him/her and the cook can see this easily. Even when there are some questions or uncertainties, the chef can quickly asks the customer to clarify. There is no need for an intervening employee, but when the app is explicit there is not even need for questions. The customer can also identify the amount of certain herbs and spices is allowed. The customer can give feedback and help develop the app. When a customer identifies the personal allergy, it can indicate what is related to this allergy. When there are more customers, it will become some sort of a database that is easy and quick to access for restaurant(s). This needs some extra money to invest in the mobile devices for the restaurants. But this will be paid back finally. Customers with allergies will be able to dine out in nice restaurants. They will not be alone but bring – most of the time – at least one person with them, therefore a double win-win for the restaurant!

Sources

  • Khosrow-Pour, M. (2014). Inventive Approaches for Technology Integration and Information Resources Management. IGI Global. 317-332
  • Robert J. Harrington , Michael C. Ottenbacher & Kelly A. Way (2013) QSR Choice: Key Restaurant Attributes and the Roles of Gender, Age and Dining Frequency, Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality & Tourism, 14:1, 81-100
  • http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

How could you trust other users when they sell?


Don’t feel like cooking yourself, but you don’t have the time nor money to go to a restaurant? Shareyourmeal.net can solve this problem! http://www.shareyourmeal.net is a website, where people can offer their (prepared) food to their neighbours. The ‘Foodie’ (or in other words, the hungry person who doesn’t want to cook) can subscribe to the website and then see all the meals in his/her neighbourhood. The tool is not meant for any commercial interest, and restaurants and professional cooks are therefore kicked out. Cooks don’t get paid (they get a small amount to cover for the expenses of the ingredients), they merely cook for love & glory.

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However, these kind of C2C platforms have some disadvantages. One of the problems is anonymity. Users could create fake usernames and as a user you generally don’t know who the cook is. But then how could a user be sure that this platform is safe? How do you know whether the cook prepared the food in a right, hygienic manner, and whether all the ingredients are safe? The website clearly states that they are not responsible for damage caused by any of the parties. So how could you trust the other users on the platform?

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