Monday, 27 July 2015

The dark side of collaborative consumption

The roots of collaborative consumption are deeply entrenched in the idea of a sharing economy. The act of sharing is hardwired into humans, but can be more prevalent in some societies and cultures than others. However, almost all cultures value sharing from a young age, with children being taught that sharing is good and should be encouraged. The idea of a sharing economy is certainly not a new phenomenon. In fact, sharing is a fundamental element of our past and evident in activities such as market trading, hunting in packs and farming in cooperative groups. The term collaborative consumption is often used to describe people powered marketplaces. From a consumer perspective, it allows goods and services to be sold, swapped and traded to a wide community of users in an infinite number of ways.

As collaborative consumption becomes an ever-increasing part of consumer behavior, it will continue to become the norm as we move away from the hyper consumption of the 20th century to collaborative consumption of the 21st century. As new technologies serve to remove the pain of sharing with others, reputation within these marketplaces is vitally important. In fact, reputation is the distinguishing feature that sets one consumer apart from another and is a measure of how well they can be trusted. Reputation will allow consumers to differentiate their service from others and potentially charge higher prices to other consumers willing to pay for a better experience. Our reputation may one day be as powerful as our credit rating. Reputation is the social currency that allows trust between total strangers. The mindset of consumers is starting to radically change in regards to ownership and what we choose to own.

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While the benefits of a sharing economy are clear, particularly in terms of sustainability, there are disadvantages to collaborative consumption and conditions that can inhibit its occurrence. Looking at the example of the highly successful Airbnb that has grown immensely in the past five years, there are a number of concerns and issues with this type of sharing. In comparison with traditional hotel facilities, the accommodation may be unsafe and unreliable. It is argued that these services breach many rules such as insurance cover, fire safety regulations, public liability, development rules and, also the tax implications for individuals renting out their spare spaces. It could be argued that the success of Airbnb could have a negative knock on effect on those directly and indirectly employed through the tourism sector.

The utopian view of collaborative consumption paints a positive picture of a perfect world where there is little friction in the redistribution of goods and services. As trust plays such an important factor in sharing, there are examples of “collaborative consumption gone bad”. For example, using a shared Zipcar may not deliver the same level of cleanliness that you may expect from a vehicle you actually own. Physically owning something may increase the care that is taken to look after it. Also, sharing your possessions with others who may not treat them with the same level of care, may cause dissatisfaction for both parties. If you were to hire out goods with a high value and the renter breaks it, how liable are they to repay for the damage incurred?

With reputation becoming such an important factor, there is also an increased emphasis on the digital footprint we leave behind. This in itself raises privacy concerns, although generally people have become more willing and open about the information they share. Generation Y are growing up with an increased sense of sharing which has been dubbed, the culture of WE rather than the culture of ME. From sharing information via social networks, to music files and even experiences such as flash mobs, these new generations of consumers are fundamentally reinventing the art of sharing. While I am a strong supporter of collaborative consumption, it is important to remember both the pains and gains experienced in the new sharing economy.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 24 July 2015

Wrigley’s Extra and ‘The Bachelor’

Wrigley’s Extra has become a major sponsor of The Bachelor, whilst undergoing a global rebrand.

Wrigley’s Extra has decided to hop on board to sponsor The Bachelor as part of their global rebranding strategy for its main gum brand, Extra. The new look for Extra will incorporate aspects of pop culture and dating conversation through the new business relationship with Ten's The Bachelor Australia.

This new look for the brand is said to feature a shield with a glint, along with the television campaign starring Ashton Kutcher that has been airing for several months. Supported with secondary media, their decision to sponsor the well known dating series forms part of a multi-million dollar campaign that aims at targeting consumers during their daily routine.

Wrigley Pacific is relying on the mass appeal of The Bachelor to educate consumers that the role of Extra in dating is “to rescue you in moments when you want to impress”. Marketing Director, Tami Cunningham, stated that in order to build up Wrigley’s brand salience in a fun and engaging way, a mass integrated campaign would be an ideal way forward. Taking part of the sponsorship deal, Extra will also have a presence across the show's social media platforms to extend its presence.

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Co-creation takes over at LEGO

One of the best recent examples of co-creation is LEGO, and its IDEAS website which allows customers to create new designs. The website was set up for LEGO enthusiasts who can both create, vote and give feedback on new projects. The projects that receive over 10,000 votes go into a review phase where senior LEGO employees decide if the product is viable for production. If the product is approved, the creator will receive 1% of the net sales of that product.


Consumer insights are now a core part of the LEGO strategy that enables staff to make consumer led decisions. The ‘LEGO Friends’ play set was designed through the process of co-creation, and came from the insight that young girls prefer designs with bright colours and environments that have emotional connection. The Senior Director for insight generation, Laura Post, conducted 13 research studies over a four-year period, which involved their target market creating new products in collaboration with designers. The insight lead to one of the biggest commercial successes in LEGO history, with a new product range that attracted new customers that they had previously not been able to connect with. 

Co-creation is quickly becoming an established feature of marketing practice for many successful firms. It is a relatively new approach to innovation that allows customers to add value to an organisation. This enables companies to differentiate themselves from competitors by encouraging collaboration with customers by putting them at the core of the business. The value of the insights generated by co-creation can be beneficial for both the company and the customer. Today’s customers are better-informed and actively take interest in the companies that they desire to connect with. They are no longer passive consumers and have become active creators of content and opinions. With the popularity of social media and the increasing number of websites with feedback mechanisms, customer’s voices can be heard louder and clearer than ever before.


One of the primary factors driving co-creation is the vast access to information that customers now have. Considerable pressure is being placed on organisations to reinvent themselves for the millennial generation by adapting their products and services. Co-creation is an opportunity for customers to become even more integral to the company by helping to shape its future business practices.

To gain the most meaningful insights, companies must play the important role of a moderator who can help to facilitate discussions rather than lead them. The customer may not always be right, but they should always be listened too. Opening up does involve some risk that must be managed, especially for big brands with valuable reputations to protect. Involving the customer into these areas will help to create brand loyalty and long lasting relationships between the company and its community. It will also allow companies to become more consumer-centric in their approach and easier to act upon customer feedback. New product development can be both costly and time consuming for companies, but successful co-creation can help speed up this process and bring products to market faster.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 17 July 2015

Nike takes female empowerment on a trip to Moscow

The empowerment of Russian women has been influenced by Nike’s most recent marketing campaign “Real girls of Moscow”. In April this year the United States saw the launch of the Nike women “Better for It” motivational campaign. Due to its success, the Powerhouse Nike itself has decided to expand the campaign to Moscow with their ‘Real girls of Moscow’ campaign.

The campaign aims to demonstrate the determination and strength Russian women use to overcome touch challenges they may encounter. The campaign aims to empower women to become active through platforms such as video, street art and GIF’s.

Undergoing a more dramatic and intense composition, the campaign takes the angle of looking into the inner-thoughts and processes that Russian women go through in overcoming adversity. Another key factor giving consumers the ability to resonate with the campaign is the use of professional athletes such as former world champion, Thai boxer Katya Izotova.

Nike has also designed outdoor murals of athletes that can be seen all across Moscow. These features work alongside a series of animated GIF’s that use geo-location enabling people to find the actual mural on the streets.

David Smith, the creative director looking after this campaign, pointed out that he wanted to give this work a “lasting sense of legacy” compared to the campaigns today that are about that one-second moment. Smith states, “So we broke the usual parameters of advertising and created a series of giant outdoor murals. “The scale and beauty of the photography really gives these girls the heroic stature they deserved.”

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 13 July 2015

Coca-Cola fighting prejudice by removing logo in the Middle East for Ramadan

Coca-Cola has long been known for their fantastic use of marketing to connect with their audience. Earlier this week saw one of the best campaigns I can remember from them in a very long time. Coke cans in the Middle East have been stripped of the famous Coca-Cola logo. This will run throughout the holy festival of Ramadan, which is observed by Muslims worldwide.

The new blank cans still have Coca-Cola’s iconic colouring, but with all references to the brand name being removed. On the other side it simply reads, “Labels are for cans, not for people”.  This strong and powerful statement from Coke is encouraging people not to judge each other based on their appearance.

Alongside the visual changes to the can, Coca-Cola has also created a short online film that has already had over 46 million views since it was uploaded last week. It begins with a group of six strangers who have been invited for a dinner. But this is no ordinary dinner party, as the strangers will have to get to know each other in the dark. After spending time getting to know one another and chatting about the things they have in common, the lights are finally switched on for the big reveal.

The striking thing about this advertisement is the diversity of the all male group of Middle Eastern men which contains men in traditional Arab dress, a man in a business suit, another man in a wheelchair and a man with facial tattoos. The group were at first shocked but had learnt that they had seen each other in another light. 

Afterwards the group is asked to pull out the Coke can from under their chairs that reads, “Labels are for cans”.


The advertisement carries a very strong message that we should not judge others based on their looks before getting to know them. Shortly after the film launched, Coca-Cola released a statement saying, “In a time when equality and abolishing prejudices is a hot topic for discussion around the world, how does one of the leading brands like Coca-Cola join in the conversation? In the Middle East, during the month of Ramadan, one of the world’s most well known labels has removed its own label, off its cans, in an effort to promote a world without labels and prejudices.”

I believe this very bold and brave advertising by Coca-Cola will win them a lot of fans regardless of their religion. It reminds us of a very important moral, but also highlights that large corporations too need a moral conscious. By boldly standing behind these values Coca-Cola, has made itself stand out. The goal of the advert is promote open-mindedness and tolerance, but will no doubt win support for its product.


Ramadan is celebrated in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar where the tradition of fasting is commonplace. The ending of Ramadan is celebrated with the Eid al-Fitr festival.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The modern age of globalisation – What does it mean for brands?

In today's world, nothing is considered “local” anymore. It is clear to say that every local action taken by brands now has a global reaction. No matter what scale a brand takes on, whether it is global or local, it must begin to delve into deeper meaningful relationships, developing thorough culture networks and knowledge along with maintaining a consistent and edgy media presence. 

It is important to understand that there is no such thing as a one-way conversation anymore. What I mean by this is that brands can no longer avoid the culture in which they are entering. There is much talk about a term called “globality”. We as marketers are moving towards a world that encompasses and embraces this term more than ever before. Globality can be seen as the bridge between global and local. It aims at spreading a brand, product or service in a “multi-market” capacity which actively enriches the receiving culture.

It is of the view that the old way of viewing the world through so called regions including APAC and EMEA is on a very fast declining spiral. With reference to Roshni Hegerman, Planning Director of McCann Sydney, Hegerman suggests that instead we should be tapping into our pattern recognition skills to effectively reveal shared cultural behaviours between countries across key universal human truths including love, success, connection and purpose.

One of the prime benefits to living in this so-called connected world is the capacity to learn about other cultures, however its greatest downfall is that half of the globe cites that they experience loss of local culture.

For Australians this can be felt greatly as we are currently battling an internal identity crisis; in other words, we are still trying to define who we are as a nation. For example, in relation to the technological and vehicle industry we say we would like to support local businesses, but we still choose global brands.

So what does it mean for brands? This idea of globality for brands means that greater relationships must be made with people and consumers. Relationships that involve knowing what unites us as human beings, knowing where people get their information from, along with understanding how a brand earns its way into peoples lives. We should use this deep cultural local and global knowledge to better the lives of consumers and to benefit our brands.

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School