Competitive Positioning of Complementors on Digital Platforms: Evidence from the Sharing Economy

Michael Wessel, Ferdinand Thies, Alexander Benlian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Various platforms have recently emerged within the sharing economy and the phenomenon has started to affect several industries. While platforms such as Airbnb and BlaBlaCar are providing convenience and economic benefits to end-users, their success also turned them into crowded and competitive markets. With increasing numbers of products and services offered via the platforms, signals such as popularity and reputation have become critical market mechanisms that affect the decision-making processes of end-users. In this paper, we examine the positioning strategies of new hosts on Airbnb, a platform focused on accommodation sharing, to understand how they attempt to cope with the inherent lack of credible quality signals as they join the platform. By analyzing close to 47,000 listings, we find that new hosts follow a cost-leadership strategy rather than trying to differentiate their offerings. We also analyze how this strategy changes depending on prior platform-specific experience of hosts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICIS 2017 Proceedings
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event38th International Conference on Information Systems: Transforming Society with Digital Innovation, ICIS 2017: Transforming Society with Digital Innovation - Coex Convention Center , Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 10 Dec 201713 Dec 2017
Conference number: 38


Conference38th International Conference on Information Systems: Transforming Society with Digital Innovation, ICIS 2017
LocationCoex Convention Center
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of
Internet address
SeriesProceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems


  • Competitive positioning
  • Digital platforms
  • Sharing economy
  • Intra-platform competition
  • Differentiation
  • Cost leadership
  • Reputation
  • Popularity

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