Internet marketing piafaulseit_final
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Internet marketing piafaulseit_final Document Transcript

  • 1.           By  embracing  new  rules  of  (Internet)  marketing  and   utilizing  crowdsourcing  a  firm  can  become  truly   customer  oriented       BUSN32  Internet  Marketing,  Branding,  Consumers   2012-­‐02-­‐29     Individual  Assignment   Written  by     Pia  Faulseit  (840125-­‐T247)
  • 2. Table  of  Content  1   INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................................. 2  2   THEORETICAL  FRAMEWORK ........................................................................................................... 3   2.1   NEW  RULES  OF  INTERNET  MARKETING .....................................................................................................3   2.2   CUSTOMER  ORIENTATION ......................................................................................................................3   2.3   CROWDSOURCING................................................................................................................................4  3   CASE  EXAMPLES ............................................................................................................................. 6   3.1   MY  STARBUCKS  IDEA ............................................................................................................................6   3.2   TCHIBO  IDEAS......................................................................................................................................7  4   DISCUSSION ................................................................................................................................... 9  5   CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................................11  6   BIBLIOGRAPHY ..............................................................................................................................12         1  
  • 3. 1   Introduction    The   rapid   development   and   use   of   Information   and   Communication   Technology   within   recent   decades  has  brought  about  several  changes  for  the  business  and  marketing  environments  (Wind  2008,  p.  23;  Lutz,  2011,   p.   225).   The   Internet   has   created   new   rules   and   possibilities   for   companies   and   their   marketing  operations  as  well  as  the  potential  to  enhance  customer  orientation.  Marketing  is  now  characterized  by  a   high   degree   of   interaction   and   collaboration   between   companies   and   their   customers   and   this  relationship  shift  has  created  a  customer  that  is  increasingly  empowered.  (Winer,  2009,  p.  109f.;  Wind  2008,  p.  21;  Pires  et  al.,  2006,  p.  939)  As   empowered   customers   becoming   co-­‐inventors,   co-­‐creators   and   co-­‐marketers,   the   strict   borders  between  companies  and  customers  dilute  (Wind  2008,  p.  22)  and  some  companies  even  seek  to  leverage  this  by  deliberately  ceding  “…power  to  the  collective  for  specific  brand  decisions  and  tasks.”  (Fournier,  Avery,   2011,   p.   196)   One   way   in   which   companies   are   tapping   into   the   collective   for   idea   generation,  advertising  or  to  inform  the  product  pipeline  is  crowdsourcing  (Fournier,  Avery,  2011,  p.  196).  The   implementation   of   collaborative   approaches   like   crowdsourcing   within   business   and   marketing  practice  is  a  growing  trend.  However,  there  is  a  lack  of  academic  contribution,  especially  from  marketing  research,  to  this  growing  field.  (Lutz,  2011,  p.  225;  Bonabeau,  2009,  p.  46,  50;  Zheng  et  al.,  2011,  p.  58)  According   to   Lutz   (2011,   p.   233),   academic   research   in   marketing   tends   to   follow   rather   than   lead  marketing  practice  with  regards  to  collaborative  approaches.  Therefore,  the  purpose  of  this  paper  is  to  address  this  gap  by  exploring  crowdsourcing  from  a  marketing  perspective  and  investigating  its  potential  as  a  vehicle  for  companies  to  become  truly  customer  oriented.    To  explore  this,  three  concepts  –  Internet  marketing,   customer   orientation   and   crowdsourcing   –   are   outlined   based   on   a   literature   review.   With  the   lack   of   academic   literature   on   crowdsourcing   from   a   marketing   perspective,   journal   articles   from   the  adjacent   fields   of   Research   and   Development   (R&D),   Innovation   Management   and   Design   are   consulted.  Two  case  examples  are  provided  that  show  how  crowdsourcing  can  be  used  by  companies  for  customer  orientation.  Finally,  a  conclusion  is  drawn  and  suggestions  for  future  research  are  given.         2  
  • 4. 2   Theoretical  framework  The   following   theoretical   framework   outlines   and   defines   the   three   concepts   –   Internet   marketing,  customer  orientation  and  crowdsourcing.  2.1   New  rules  of  Internet  marketing  With  the  advent  of  the  Internet,  a  new  digital  medium  arose  which  has  significantly  changed  marketing  operations   (Wind   2008,   p.   23;   Lutz,   2011,   p.   225)   from   a   linear,   one-­‐way   flow   of   information   from  organizations  to  customers  to  instead,  an  exchange  of  information  which  increasingly  takes  place  in  the  form   of   a   dialogue   on   a   one-­‐to-­‐one,   many-­‐to-­‐many   or   multi-­‐modal   level   (Rowley,   2004,   p.   26;   Winer,  2009,  p.  108;  Muñiz,  Schau,  2011,  p.  209).  Through  this  new  communication  model  that  enables  users  to  generate   and   continuously   modify   content   (User   Generated   Content)   (Kaplan,   Haenlein,   2010,   p.   61),  organizations  now  have  the  possibility  to  interact  with  customers  and  engage  them  in  a  collaborative  and  participatory   way   (Winer,   2009,   p.   108f.;   Kaplan,   Haenlein,   2010,   p.   61)   facilitating   new   customer  relationships  and  mutual  value  creation  (Rowley,  2004,  p.  24;  Fournier,  Avery,  2011,  p.  195).  Additionally,  the   Internet   marketing   environment   has   hailed   new   rules   of   authenticity   and   transparency,   which  organizations   need   to   keep   in   mind   when   operating   online   (Fournier,   Avery,   2011,   p.   198;   Weinberg,  Pehlivan,  2011,  p.  276).  Internet  marketing  can  be  defined  as  “Applying  digital  technologies  which  form  online   channels   to   market   […]   to   contribute   to   marketing   activities   aimed   at   achieving   profitable  acquisition   and   retention   of   customers   […]   to   improve   customer   knowledge   […],   then   delivering  integrated   targeted   communications   and   online   services   that   match   their   individual   needs.”   (IDM   in  Chaffey,  2008,  p.  19)  Social  Media  sites  are  increasingly  where  this  new  Internet  marketing  takes  place  and   it   is   crucial   to   remember,   “it’s   all   about   participation,   sharing,   and   collaboration,   rather   than  straightforward  advertising  and  selling.”  (Kaplan,  Haenlein,  2010,  p.  65)    The  above  discussion  outlines  how  the  digital  era  has  changed  the  rules  of  marketing  but   it  is  important  to   note   that   the   role   of   customers   has   also   changed.   Customers   are   no   longer   passive   recipients   of  marketing   messages   but   rather,   they   take   an   active   role   by   developing   and   disseminating   marketing  messages,   co-­‐creating   marketing   content,   and   becoming   increasingly   in   control   of   what   is   said   about  brands   or   products.   This   power   shift   has   fundamentally   changed   the   relationship   between   companies  and  customers.  (Wind  2008,  p.  21f.;  Winer,  2009,  p.  112;  Rowley,  2004,  p.  26f.;  Muñiz,  Schau,  2011,  p.  210)   The   concept   of   ‘consumer   empowerment’   is   widely   discussed   in   the   literature   (e.g.   Fournier,   Avery,  2011,  p.  193;  Pires  et  al.,  2006,  938  f.;  Muñiz,  Schau,  2011,  p.  210;  Wind,  2008,  p.  21).    2.2   Customer  orientation  The   concept   of   customer   orientation   is   part   of   the   theory   of   market   orientation,   which   is   primarily  addressed  by  two  major  groups  of  authors  within  academic  literature.    Slater   and   Narver   (1990,   p.   21;   1994,   p.   22)   conceptualize   customer   orientation   as   one   of   three   major  components   of   market   orientation   and   state   that,   “A   business   is   market-­‐oriented   when   its   culture   is  systematically  and  entirely  committed  to  the  continuous  creation  of  superior  customer  value.  Specifically,  this   entails   collecting   and   coordinating   information   on   customers,   competitors,   and   other   significant  market  influencers  […]  to  use  in  building  that  value.”  (Slater,  Narver,  1994,  p.  22)  While  Narver  and  Slater  incorporate  customer  orientation  as  one  component  within  their  theory  of  market  orientation,   Kohli  and  Jaworski   (the   second   group   of   authors)   conceptualize   market   orientation   differently   and   refer   to  customer   orientation   in   connection   with   the   broader   concept   of   market   intelligence   (Kohli,   Jaworski,  1990,   p.   3f.;   Jaworski,   Kohli,   1993,   p.   54).   “Market   orientation   is   the   organization-­‐wide   generation   of     3  
  • 5. market   intelligence   pertaining   to   current   and   future   customer   needs,   dissemination   of   the   intelligence  across  departments,  and  organization  wide  responsiveness  to  it.”  (Kohli,  Jaworski,  1990,  p.  6)  While   both   groups   of   authors   conceptualize   customer   orientation   differently   within   their   theories   of  market  orientation,  the  understanding  of  customer  orientation  as  such  is  overlapping  (Nwankwo,  1995,  p.  6).  They  commonly  state  that  customer  orientation  is  a  central  element  of  market  orientation  and  that  it  entails   acquisition,   assessment   and   superior   understanding   of   information   about   customers’   current   and  future   needs,   expectations   and   preferences   (Narver,   Slater,   1990,   p.   21;   Kohli,   Jaworski,   1990,   p.   3f.).  This   model   of   information   gathering   goes   beyond   traditional   customer   research   to   identify   not   only  expressed   but   also   latent   customer   needs   (Slater,   Narver,   1998,   p.   1002;   Kohli,   Jaworski,   1990,   p.   4).  Through  an  understanding  of  and  responsiveness  to  customer  needs,  organizations  can  create  superior  customer  value  and  enhance  customer  satisfaction  and  relationships  (Narver,  Slater,  1990,  p.  21;  Slater,  Narver,   1994,   p.   22f.;  Jaworski,   Kohli,   1993,   p.   53;   Kohli,   Jaworski,   1990,   p.   6;   Aziz,   Yasin,   2004,   p.   5f.).  Moreover,   by   embedding   market   orientation   into   their   business   cultures,   organizations   can   gain  sustainable   competitive   advantages   and   are   likely   to   increase   business   performance   and   profitability  (Kohli,  Jaworski,  1990,  p.  13,  Jaworski,  Kohli,  1993,  p.  64;  Narver,  Slater  1990,  p.  21f.;  Slater,  Narver,  1994,  p.  26).    The  theory  of  market  orientation  has  since  been  refined  and  built  upon  (Slater,  Narver,  1998,  p.  1001)  with   the   terms   ‘market   orientation’   and   ‘customer   orientation’   now   used   almost   interchangeably   and  associated   with   terms   like   ‘marketing   concept’   and   ‘customer   first’   (Nwankwo,   1995,   p.   6).   However,  most  authors  addressing  this  topic  still  refer  back  to  the  initial  theories  of  market  orientation  by  Kohli  &  Jaworski  and  Slater  &  Narver  (e.g.  Nwankwo,  1995;  Yan,  2011;  Aziz,  Yasin,  2004,  Luo,  Seyedian,  2004).  2.3   Crowdsourcing  The  term  crowdsourcing  initially  appeared  in  a  2006  article,  “The  rise  of  crowdsourcing,”  written  by  Jeff  Howe  and  published  in  the  online  magazine,  Wired  (Busarovs,  2011,  p.  54;  Howe,  2006a,  p.  1).  According  to  Howe  (2006b),  crowdsourcing  can  be  defined  as  “…the  act  of  taking  a  job  traditionally  performed  by  a  designated   agent   (usually   an   employee)   and   outsourcing   it   to   an   undefined,   generally   large   group   of  people  in  the  form  of  an  open  call.”  Although  the  concept  as  such  existed  before  2006  (Busarovs,  2011,  p.  54),  Howe’s  definition  of  crowdsourcing  is  generally  accepted  and  commonly  used  in  current  literature  by  authors  such  as  Miziolek  (2011,  p.  16),  Lutz  (2011,  p.  225)  or  Poetz  and  Schreier  (2012,  p.  246).  With  the   advancement   of   the   Internet   to   Web   2.0,   companies   are   now   able   to   “…tap   into   ‘the   collective’   on   a  greater  scale  than  ever  before”  (Bonabeau,  2009,  p.  46).  The  concept  of  crowdsourcing  leverages  these  new  possibilities  and  strives  to  solve  problems  with  the  help  of  the  masses  (Busarovs,  2011,  p.  54;  Zheng  et   al.,   2011,   p.   57).   This   can   take   place   on   companies’   websites,   social   networks   or   on   special  crowdsourcing   platforms   (e.g.   InnoCentive)   which   all   connect   companies   with   individuals   (Busarovs,  2011,  p.  57;  Zheng  et  al.,  2011,  p.  59;  Doan  et  al.,  2011,  p.  88).    Since   the   concept   of   crowdsourcing   is   relatively   new,   there   is   limited   literature   available,   especially   from  a  marketing  perspective.  Therefore  the  consulted  academic  literature  originates  from  adjacent  fields  and  approaches   crowdsourcing   in   terms   of   different   areas   of   application,   such   as   user-­‐driven   innovation  (Busarovs,  2011),  new  product  development  (Poetz,  Schreier,  2012),  decision-­‐making  (Bonabeau,  2009),  or   packaging   and   design   (Miziolek,   2011).   Crowdsourcing   has   its   roots   in   the   idea   of   open   source  solutions  (OSS)  but  is  applied  outside  the  field  of  software  development  (Howe,  2006b;  Poetz,  Schreier,  2012,   p.   246).   The   concept   of   crowdsourcing   was   initially   implemented   in   the   field   of   R&D   projects,   such  as   Innovation   Management   and   New   Product   Development   (Miziolek,   2011,   p.   16;   Albors   et   al.,   2007,   p.     4  
  • 6. 197).   Traditionally,   these   projects   were   solely   performed   company-­‐internal   by   the   responsible  departments  (e.g.  R&D,  Marketing,  Engineering),  but  with  the  growing  need  to  be  innovative  in  today’s  business   landscape,   there   is   an   increasing   tendency   to   look   for   innovation   and   ideas   to   emerge   from  outside   of   the   company.   (Busarovs,   2011,   p.   53;   Poetz,   Schreier,   2012,   p.   245;   Ebner   et   al.,   2009,   p.   243)  Based   on   this,   Busarovs   (2011,   p.   53)   refers   to   crowdsourcing   as   a   business   philosophy   for   user-­‐driven  innovation  oriented  towards  true  customer  needs.    Crowdsourcing’s   collaborative   model   is   a   growing   trend   and   besides   R&D   projects,   it   is   increasingly   used  to   address   business   problems   and   challenges   in   marketing   and   its   adjacent   fields   such   as   branding,  advertising,   market   research   and   design   (Fournier,   Avery,   2011,   p.   196;   Miziolek,   2011,   p.   16;   Lutz,   2011,  p.   225;   Bonabeau,   2009,   p.   50f.).   Regardless   of   the   area   of   application,   the   concept   of   crowdsourcing  directs   a   task   towards   a   large,   undefined   group   of   people   via   the   Internet   to   make   use   of   collective  intelligence   (Fournier,   Avery,   2011,   p.   196;   Busarovs,   2011,   p.   54;   Bonabeau,   2009,   p.   46).   The  mechanism  relies  on  a  self-­‐selection  process  among  participants  who  are  willing  and  able  to  respond  to  the   given   task   (Poetz,   Schreier,   2012,   p.   246),   which   can   range   from   routine   to   complex   to   creative  (Busarovs,   2011,   p.   54).   According   to   Zheng   et   al.   (2011,   p.   59),   crowdsourcing   can   implicate   a   contest  where   tasks,   requirements,   duration   and   rewards   are   defined   by   a   company   who   then   evaluates   the  participants’   proposed   solutions.   However,   the   motivation   to   participate   in   crowdsourcing   does   not  necessarily   need   to   be   based   on   monetary   rewards,   it   can   also   be   based   on   other   intrinsic   or   extrinsic  factors  such  as  value  driven  incentives,  recognition  or  the  pleasure  of  solving  a  task  (Zheng  et  al.,  2011,  p.  76f.;  Bonabeau,  2009,  p.  49).  Besides  solution  generation,  crowdsourcing  is  increasingly  used  to  evaluate  proposed  ideas  and  is  often  implemented  for  both  reasons  in  successive  steps  so  that  idea  creation  and  voting  for  selection  are  part  of  the  process  (Bonabeau,  2009,  p.  47;  Fournier,  Avery,  2011,  p.  196).  There  are  a  number  of  advantages  and  risks  of  using  crowdsourcing,  but  for  the  purpose  of  this  paper,  only   certain   aspects   are   relevant   and   will   be   discussed.   Crowdsourcing   can   be   an   alternative   to   or  complement   traditional,   internal   problem-­‐solving   approaches   by   generating   more   ideas   from   a   diverse  and   impartial   crowd   instead   of   relying   solely   on   internal   expertise   (Poetz,   Schreier,   2012,   p.   248;  Busarovs,   2011,   p.   59;   Miziolek,   2011,   p.   17;   Ebner   et   al.,   2009,   p.   243).   It   can   be   used   to   overcome   a  divergence  between  an  expert’s  attempt  to  find  a  solution  and  real  customer  needs  (Busarovs,  2011,  p.  53)  or  to  identify  valuable  consumer  insights  (Miziolek,  2011,  p.  17).  Concurrently,  there  exists  the  threat  of   not   reaching   a   critical   mass   of   participants   or   engaging   a   group   that   does   not   represent   the   target  group   or   consumer   base   and   therewith,   their   real   needs   (Miziolek,   2011,   p.   17,   Busarovs,   2011,   p.   57;  Poetz,  Schreier,  2012,  p.  255).  Moreover,  quantity  does  not  necessarily  equal  quality,  thus,  the  generated  ideas  may  not  be  appropriate  for  the  problem  or  may  lead  to  undesirable  outcomes  (Miziolek,  2011,  p.  17;  Bonabeau,  2009,  p.  48;  Poetz,  Schreier,  2012,  p.  245;  Fournier,  Avery,  2011,  p.  202).    There  are  a  number  of  key  issues  to  remember  when  considering  crowdsourcing.    Control  is  one  crucial  factor  –  finding  the  right  balance  between  ceding  control  to  the  crowd  and  keeping  the  management  and  overall   strategic   direction   in   the   hands   of   the   company   (Miziolek,   2011,   p.   17;   Bonabeau,   2009,   p.   48;  Poetz,   Schreier,   2012,   p.   248).   Furthermore,   companies   need   to   balance   the   need   for   a   diversity   of   ideas  with   the   level   of   expertise   to   ensure   quality   (Bonabeau,   2009,   p.   48).   Turning   to   the   crowd   can   reveal  contrary  interests,  misbehaviour  and  critiques  which  would  then  need  to  be  addressed  (Bonabeau,  2009,  p.   48).   Every   case   should   be   carefully   considered,   weighing   the   potential   benefits   and   downfalls   of  crowdsourcing   with   the   particular   task/problem   in   mind   (Busarovs,   2011,   p.   58;   Miziolek,   2011,   p.   17).     5  
  • 7. 3   Case  examples  There   are   a   number   of   companies   and   brands   that   implement   crowdsourcing   as   a   tool   to   generate   ideas  or  solutions  for  a  given  problem  (Lutz,  2011,  p.  225).  MyStarbucksIdeas.com  and  Tchibo-­‐Ideas.de  are  two  interactive   platforms   that   are   examples   of   crowdsourcing   being   used   for   customer   orientation   from   a  marketing   angle.   Due   to   limited   academic   literature   dealing   with   the   selected   cases,   the   descriptive  outlines  below  are  based  mainly  on  an  analysis  of  the  platforms.  3.1   My  Starbucks  Idea  One  mentioned  crowdsourcing  platform  in  the  marketing  literature  is  MyStarbucksIdea.com  by  the  U.S.  coffee   chain   Starbucks   (Fournier,   Avery,   2011,   p.   196;   Kaplan,   Haenlein,   2010,   p.   66).   The   company  describes   MyStarbucksIdea.com   as   “…an   online   community   dedicated   to   sharing   and   discussing   ideas  and  allowing  you  to  see  how  Starbucks  is  putting  top  ideas  into  action.”  (Starbucks  Corporations,  2010a)  MyStarbucksIdea.com   invites   individuals   to   share   ideas   on   how   Starbucks   can   create   better   customer  experiences   in   order   to   improve   its   business   (Kaplan,   Haenlein,   2010,   p.   66;   Starbucks   Corporation,  2010a).   Users   register   online   and   upload   ideas   into   three   main   categories   –   products,   experiences   and  involvement  –  which  are  then  divided  into  sub-­‐categories  with  ideas  ranging  from  small  improvements  to  revolutionary  changes  (Starbucks  Corporation,  2010a;  Starbucks  Corporations,  2010b).    Figure  1:  MyStarbucksIdea.com  The  uploaded  ideas  can  be  discussed  and  voted  on  by  other  users  and  they  can  also  be  posted  to  other  social  media  sites,  like  Facebook.  The  most  popular  or  innovative  ideas  and  suggestions  are  subsequently  considered  by  Starbucks  for  implementation  (independent  of  the  voting  process)  (Kaplan,  Haenlein,  2010,  p.  66;  Starbucks  Corporations,  2010a).  The  company  appoints  employees  from  different  departments  as  ‘idea  partners’  to  join  and  host  the  on-­‐going  discussions  and  advocate  ideas  and  suggestions  within  the     6  
  • 8. company   (Jarvis,   2008;   Starbucks   Corporations,   2010a).   In   the   Idea   partners’   blog,   ‘Ideas   in   Action’,  customers   receive   information   about   the   status   of   the   ideas   –   under   review,   reviewed,   in   the   works,  launched   –   and   are   able   to   comment   on   the   process   (Starbucks   Corporations,   2010a;   Starbucks  Corporations,   2010b;   Starbucks   Corporations,   2010c).   Overall,   the   mechanism   of   Starbucks’  crowdsourcing  platform  does  not  involve  any  monetary  or  tangible  rewards  for  the  proposed  customer  ideas  regardless  of  whether  they  are  implemented  or  not.  Customers  are  engaging  just  for  the  purpose  of  participating  (Starbucks  Corporations,  2010a;  Jarvis,  2008).    MyStarbucksIdea.com   is   a   good   example   of   crowdsourcing   as   a   tool   to   engage   consumers   in   a   well-­‐structured  process,  while  sending  them  the  message  that  their  input  matters  and  is  taken  seriously.  3.2   Tchibo  Ideas  The   German   coffee   company,   Tchibo,   successfully   expanded   their   business   beyond   coffee   sales   by  developing   a   weekly,   rotating   product   range   that   is   theme-­‐based   (e.g.   household   goods,   sports  equipment)   and   sold   at   shops   or   online   (Tchibo,   2012a;   Tchibo,   2012b).   To   interact   with   its   customers  and   generate   ideas   for   their   product   ranges,   Tchibo   implemented   a   crowdsourcing   platform   called  Tchibo-­‐Ideas.de  (Tchibo  Ideas,  2012a;  Schögel,  Mrkwicka,  2011,  p.  9;  Evans,  McKee,  2010,  p.  335).  Users   register,   create   a   profile   and   interact   on   the   platform   in   three   ways.   First,   they   can   submit   their  own   everyday   problems   in   the   form   of   tasks   which   are   then   directed   toward   other   users   for   input.  Second,   users   can   propose   solutions   in   the   form   of   concrete,   tangible   products   to   the   uploaded   tasks  submitted  by  other  users  or  themselves.  (Tchibo  Ideas,  2012b;  Tchibo  Ideas,  2012c;  Tchibo  Ideas,  2012d)  The   different   tasks   and   proposed   solutions   are   divided   into   categories   (e.g.   kitchen,   health)   and  correlated  with  other,  similar  tasks  or  solutions.  The  platform  allows  interaction  in  the  form  of  task  and  solution   generation,   comments   and   discussion   but   users   are   not   able   to   vote   for   proposed   solutions.  (Tchibo  Ideas,  2012e;  Tchibo  Ideas,  2012f)  The   final   way   in   which   users   can   use   the   platform   is   to   propose   an   innovative,   market-­‐ready   product  design  for  cooperation  in  producing  and  selling  with  Tchibo.  The  product  design  must  fit  Tchibo’s  product  line,  be  new,  legally  defendable  and  producible.  If  a  cooperation  is  achieved,  the  resulting  product  will  be  produced  and  marketed  by  Tchibo  with  the  trademark  rights  remaining  with  the  user  who  also  receives  part   of   the   profit.   (Tchibo   Ideas,   2012g)   However,   Tchibo   reserves   the   right   to   utilize   proposed   tasks  and/or   generated   solutions   from   the   first   two   interaction   categories   without   involving   users   in   the  realization  of  the  idea  and  the  profit  (Tchibo  Ideas,  2012h).       7  
  • 9.  Figure  2:  Tchibo-­‐Ideas.de  Tchibo   does   not   offer   monetary   rewards   for   proposed   tasks   and   solutions,   but,   tasks   and   solutions  submitted   by   participants   can   be   selected   as   ‘tasks   of   the   month’,   ‘solution   of   the   month’   or   ‘solution   of  the   year’,   winning   between   €1.200   and   €10.000   for   the   accolade   (Tchibo   Ideas,   2012i,   Tchibo   Ideas,  2012j).  Like   Starbucks,   Tchibo   classifies   their   crowdsourcing   platform   as   a   form   of   a   community   where   users   can  interact   not   only   with   Tchibo,   but   with  each  others’  problems   and   ideas   taking   customer   orientation   and  engagement  to  a  whole  new  level  (Tchibo  Ideas,  2012a).  So  far,  the  platform  has  10.305  registered  users,  1.191   proposed   tasks,   718   submitted   solutions,   8.576   comments,   177   winners   and  19   resulting   products  (Tchibo   Ideas,   2012k).   Tchibo-­‐Ideas.de   illustrates   the   different   possibilities   of   using   crowdsourcing   as   a  tool  to  identify  customer  needs,  generate  solutions  and  new  product  ideas,  and  engage  the  customer  on  an  entirely  new  level.         8  
  • 10. 4   Discussion  As   outlined   above,   the   Internet’s   impact   on   marketing   operations   has   changed   the   relationship   between  companies   and   customers   resulting   in   more   reciprocal   interaction   and   increased   collaboration.   This  discussion  addresses  the  question  –  can  companies  use  a  crowdsourcing  platform  as  a  vehicle  to  become  truly  customer  oriented?  Crowdsourcing   embraces   the   new   rules   of   Internet   marketing,   enabling   companies   to   interact   with   their  customers   and   engage   them   in   the   generation   and   evaluation   of   ideas   and   solutions   for   improved  customer   experiences   and   more   innovative   products.   This   concept   embraces   consumer   empowerment  and  deliberately  cedes  power  and  control  from  the  company  to  the  customer.  Crowdsourcing  is  based  on  Web   2.0   technologies   and   like   other   Social   Media   platforms,   amplifies   a   dialogue   between   companies  and   customers.   Both   case   examples   use   their   crowdsourcing   platforms   to   foster   an   ongoing   dialogue  between   customers   and   employees   initiated   by   the   idea   contributions   and   maintained   through  discussions/comments.  These  platforms  provide  a  high  degree  of  transparency  since  all  suggestions  and  discussions  are  disclosed  and  in  the  case  of  MyStarbucksIdea.com,  transparency  is  reinforced  by  posting  the   ‘implementation   status’   of   each   idea   on   the   company’s   blog.   The   fact   that   the   ideas   and   solutions  generated   have   the   potential   to   be   realized   in   the   form   of   new   or   improved   products,   gives   these  crowdsourcing  platforms  a  high  degree  of  authenticity.    By   relating   the   case   examples   to   the   theoretical   discussion   of   crowdsourcing,   it   is   apparent   that   the  consulted  literature  does  not  cover  all  facets  of  crowdsourcing,  especially  with  reference  to  marketing.    For  example,  neither  case  uses  crowdsourcing  to  address  specific,  pre-­‐defined  tasks  with  a  time  limit  as  described  in  the  literature.  Rather,  the  open  call  for  idea  generation  takes  place  continuously  and  invites  customers  to  submit  ideas  and  suggestions  based  on  their  own  interests  and  needs.  The  main  purpose  of  both   platforms   is   to   leverage   collective   intelligence   in   order   to   address   business   challenges   and   to  improve   products   and   services.   MyStarbucksIdea.com   works   without   monetary   rewards   while   Tchibo-­‐Ideas.de  offers  no  fixed  rewards  for  submitted  tasks  and  solutions  but  rewards  outstanding  ideas  on  a  monthly   or   annual   basis.   Furthermore,   there   is   the   possibility   to   enter   into   a   cooperation   with   Tchibo  which  could  result  in  profitable  earnings.  Both  companies  utilize  the  platform  to  crowdsource  ideas  and  generate   solutions   while   Starbucks   extends   this   to   evaluate   the   ideas   generated.   In   both   cases,   the  companies  have  the  ultimate  decision  on  whether  an  idea  will  be  incorporated  into  the  business  or  not.      The   analysis   of   MyStarbucksIdea.com   and   Tchibo-­‐Ideas.de   reveals   that   the   companies   have   taken   the  concept  of  crowdsourcing  one  step  further  by  including  not  only  idea  generation  and  evaluation  features,  but   also   aspects   of   brand-­‐communities   by   empowering   customers   with   a   shared   interest   to   create  profiles  and  interact.  Only  a  few  authors,  such  as  Ebner  et  al.  (2009)  and  Zheng  et  al.  (2011),  address  this  integration   of   crowdsourcing   and   community   building   in   academic   literature.   With   regards   to   the  identified   rules   of   Internet   marketing,   the   chosen   examples   of   crowdsourcing   incorporate   key  characteristics  such  as  interaction,  dialogue  and  transparency  to  an  even  larger  extent  than  the  literature  describes.    The   crowdsourcing   platforms   enable   Starbucks   and   Tchibo   to   capture   valuable   information   about  customer   needs   through   the   direct   evaluation   of   ideas   and   tasks   uploaded   by   the   consumers   and  through  engaging  in  and  monitoring  on-­‐going  conversations,  demonstrating  the  powerful  link  between  crowdsourcing   and   customer   orientation.   Customer   orientation   strategically   focuses   on   customers   and  their   current   and   future   needs   in   order   to   offer   superior   value   and   enhance   satisfaction.   Besides  gathering  information  about  customers  and  their  needs,  Starbucks  and  Tchibo  engage  in  a  discourse  with     9  
  • 11. customers  and  collaborate  with  them  to  implement  ideas  that  are  based  on  true  customer  demands.  As  a   response   to   the   generated   ideas   and   suggestions,   new   products  developed   are   more   likely   to   fulfil   real  customer  needs  and  create  superior  customer  value.  Another  requirement  of  customer  orientation  is  the  dissemination  of  customer  needs  throughout  the  organization.  The  Starbucks  example  demonstrates  this  cross-­‐functional   coordination   as   the   ‘Idea   Partners’   who   interact   with,   monitor,   and   guide   ideas   and  discussions   represent   different   departments.   Tchibo’s   crowdsourcing   platform   goes   one   step   further  than  Starbucks’  as  it  invites  customers  not  only  to  submit  ideas  relating  to  the  company,  but  also  offers  them   a   platform   for   finding   solutions   to   their   own,   everyday   problems.   With   this   move,   the   company  places   its   customers   and   their   needs   as   a   main   focus   of   their   crowdsourcing   platform.   Through  crowdsourcing,   both   companies   give   their   customers   the   feeling   that   their   input   matters,   is   taken  seriously   and   that   they   are   part   of   the   organization.   Being   truly   customer   oriented   fosters   customer  satisfaction   and   customer   relationships   and   as   Yan   (2011,   p.   692)   addressed   in   the   concept   of   market  orientation  with  relation  to  Internet  and  Social  Media,  these  emerging  channels  enable  organizations  to  be  more  responsive  to  customers  and  their  demands  and  grasp  their  prevailing  mood.  (Yan,  2011,  p.  692)  The  outlined  case  examples  support  this  with  regards  to  crowdsourcing.  There  are  also  possible  downsides  to  crowdsourcing  with  regards  to  customer  orientation  as  it  is  difficult  to  know  if  the  participants  represent  the  actual  customer  base.  This  implies  that  gathered  information  and  generated  ideas  could  not  necessarily  mirror  the  needs  of  actual  customers.  Moreover,  there  is  no  guarantee   that   the   submitted   ideas   are   in   line   with   the   companies’   objectives,   so   companies   should  consider  carefully  if  crowdsourcing  activities  are  strategic  for  their  overall  business  strategy.  Companies  should   not   rely   solely   on   crowdsourcing   as   a   means   to   gather   information   about   customer   needs,   rather  it   should   complement   traditional   approaches   and   when   successfully   utilized,   can   foster   a   stronger  customer  orientation.     10  
  • 12. 5   Conclusion  This  paper  examines  crowdsourcing  from  a  marketing  perspective  and  looks  at  its  potential  for  customer  orientation.   After   outlining   the   three   concepts   –   Internet   marketing,   customer   orientation   and  crowdsourcing   –   and   describing   and   analysing   the   online   platforms,   MyStarbucksIdea.com   and   Tchibo-­‐Ideas.de,   several   things   become   apparent.   First,   the   concept   of   crowdsourcing   embraces   new   rules   of  Internet  Marketing  such  as  interaction,  consumer  empowerment  and  transparency.  Second,  the  current  literature   does   not   cover   all   facets   of   crowdsourcing   that   were   identified   in   the   case   examples  underlining   that   theory   is   still   lagging   behind   practice.   Third,   based   on   the   findings   of   this   paper,   the  research  question  can  be  validated  –  by  embracing  new  rules  of  Internet  marketing,  crowdsourcing  can  be   a   vehicle   for   companies   to   become   truly   customer   oriented.   With   the   help   of   crowdsourcing,   both  companies  gathered  meaningful  information  about  customer  needs  which  can  lead  to  creating  superior  customer  value  and  satisfaction.  There  is  a  lack  of  academic  literature  addressing  collective  approaches,  such  as  crowdsourcing,  especially  from  a  marketing  perspective.  Therefore,  this  paper  contributes  to  current  literature  by  taking  a  step  to  fill   this   gap,   relating   the   new   rules   of   Internet   marketing   to   the   concept   of   crowdsourcing   and  investigating   whether   crowdsourcing   facilitates   customer   orientation.   However,   limitations   did   exist  since   this   paper   only   analyses   two   case   examples   which   use   crowdsourcing   as   a   tool   to   understand  customer   needs,   create   superior   customer   value   and   enhance   customer   satisfaction.   Future   research  needs   to   be   conducted   in   order   to   validate   the   research   question   beyond   the   scope   of   this   paper.  Moreover,   the   correlation   between   the   concepts   of   crowdsourcing   and   community   building   should   be  further   investigated   since   a   connection   was   identified   in   both   case   examples   and   is   not   addressed   in-­‐depth  by  the  literature  thus  far.  It   is   clear   that   crowdsourcing   –   when   integrated   properly   –   is   a   new   and   positive   way   to   approach  business   and   marketing   challenges,   interact   with   customers,   gain   deeper   insights   and   create   stronger  bonds  by  reaching  out  to  customers  actively  and  empowering  them  to  participate  in  the  business.                       11  
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