Guest article by Simon Hazée, finalist of the Best Service Dissertation Award 2019, granted by SERVSIG and Maastricht University
New developments in digital technology, as well as shifting customer needs to foster the emergence of innovative business models based on sharing. Recently, we have seen a steep increase in the number of organizations providing customers with short-term access to goods, or providing digital platforms that enable customers to get access to other people’s assets. Airbnb, Uber, and Zipcar are popular examples of the access economy (also referred to ‘sharing’ economy). This economy is expected to grow tremendously, with predicted market opportunities reaching $500 billion in 2020 (Mastercard 2016). Authors even argue “we just may be entering the post-ownership economy” (Belk 2014, p. 1599).
Numerous companies and investors embrace the access economy. However, the general idea of accessing rather than owning goods has gained less attraction among customers. Despite the promising prospects of the access economy, many organizations providing access offers still fail to build a sufficient level of demand. For example, Citroën withdrew its car-sharing program Multiplicity after 3 years due to a lack of customers. The digital platform Stayzilla also announced its closure in 2017 because of similar reasons. In a similar vein, McKinsey & Co (2012) estimated that about one third of German urban customer are potential car-sharing users, yet only 2.5% actually adopt such services, indicating the urgent need to understand why customers do not participate in the access economy as well as how to reduce customer rejection. My dissertation addresses these key business challenges.
The first project develops an integrative framework that reflects the (1) barriers that prevent customers from participating in the access economy and (2) practices in which customers engage to attenuate those barriers themselves. Interestingly, this research reveals that customers actually may confront several “burdens of access”, which explain why customers reject the access economy. The results have been published in the Journal of Service Research (click here for the full paper).
The second project zooms in on the contamination barrier (identified in the first project), and empirically demonstrates (1) the impact of contamination concerns on consumer evaluations of access-based offerings, (2) when such concerns become salient, and (3) how service providers can reduce these concerns. The results are forthcoming in the Journal of Service Research too (click here for the full paper).
The third and final project (under revision) develops consumer-based strategies related to service design and consumer management that aim to overcome customer-perceived barriers. This study further provides a detailed understanding of the complex trust-control relationship in the access economy.
Altogether, the findings offer valuable and concrete managerial implications. I provide herein a visual representation of the results and recommendations of my dissertation through the means of an infographic (see below), designed in a clear and simple way in order to guide managers in understanding and reducing customer rejection of their access offers. In particular, firms that offer access-based service innovations (e.g., Zipcar, Cyclocity) and manufacturers that plan to increase their revenues by offering new access offers (e.g., BMW, Citroën) can benefit from the results of this dissertation.
In conclusion, the specificities of the access economy challenge traditional notions about marketing, and call for new theory building. In this context, we are in need of more research on new digitally-enabled business models, metrics, and frameworks that would help organizations ensure future growth. Much remains to be done to advance theoretical and practical understanding of the unique, emerging phenomenon which is the access economy (Kumar et al. 2018). To quote Mary Jo Bitner: “It is a wonderful time to be service researcher!”
Simon Hazée was a postdoctoral researcher at HEC Liège, Management School of the University of Liege. In October 2019, Simon became an assistant professor of marketing at Louvain School of Management, UCLouvain (Belgium).
You are interested in the access (aka sharing) economy? Here is a list of must-reads curated by Simon:
Bardhi, Fleura and Giana M. Eckhardt (2012), “Access-Based Consumption: The Case of Car Sharing,” Journal of Consumer Research, 39(4), 881-898.
Benoit, Sabine, Thomas L. Baker, Ruth N. Bolton, Thorsten Gruber, and Jay Kandampully (2017), “A Triadic Framework for Collaborative Consumption (CC): Motives, Activities, and Resources & Capabilities of Actors,” Journal of Business Research, 79(10), 219-227.
Dellaert, Benedict (2019), “The Consumer Production Journey: Marketing to Consumers as Co-Producers in the Sharing Economy”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47(2), 238-254.
Perren, Rebbeca and Robert Kozinets (2018), “Lateral Exchange Markets: How Social Platforms Operate in a Networked Economy”, Journal of Marketing, 82(1), 20-36.
Zervas, Georgios, Davide Proserpio, and John W. Byers (2017), “The Rise of the Sharing Economy: Estimating the Impact of Airbnb on the Hotel Industry,” Journal of Marketing Research, 54(5), 687-705.
Sources (used in the blog post):
Belk, R.W. (2014), “You are what you access: Sharing and collaborative consumption online”, Journal of Business Research, 67(8), 1595-1600.
Kumar, V, Lahiri, A., and Bahadir Dogan, O. (2018), “A strategic framework for a profitable business model in the sharing economy”, Industrial Marketing Management, 69(1), 147-160.
Mastercard (2017), “The sharing economy: Understanding the opportunities for growth”, Mastercard report, available at https://newsroom.mastercard.com/eu/files/2017/06/Mastercard_Sharing-Economy_v7.compressed2.pdf
McKinsey & Co. (2012), “Mobility of the future: Opportunities for automotive OEMs,” McKinsey & Co. report, available at http://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/automotive_and_assembly/pdfs/mobility_of_the_future_brochure.ashx