Digital Brands and Brand Value: Implications of Consumer-brand Co-creation on Brand Value and Brand Strategy: The cases of network orchestrators Airbnb and Uber

Carina Wiesinger & Christina Eckerstorfer

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Network orchestrators and branding have been researched only independently. This thesis aims at establishing a theoretical link by proposing a framework consisting of innovative business models and brand value co-creation, and applying it to the cases of Airbnb and Uber. Given that brand switching is easy within a digital environment, determining how sustainable brand value can be created by integrating users in value creation processes will reveal how brands can achieve a competitive advantage and provide valuable implications for brand strategy. The proposed framework provides the basis for an inductive research approach. With qualitative methods in the form of focus group, in-depth interviews and netnography, data from Airbnb and Uber users was gathered. Findings suggest that digital brands are viewed as rather abstract, adaptable and need to be authentic; trust is crucial. Airbnb is generally trusted but its slogan of belonging does not resonate with users. Uber experiences authenticity and image issues, and users primarily value the service rather than the brand. In general, users are not actively interested in co-creating, and transparency and contact with the brand are appreciated. While mostly passive participation of the brand is preferred, active integration is sometimes accepted. There is no real community feeling, and co-creation so far consists primarily of ratings, reviews and declaration of issues. Concerning managerial implications, the essence of branding stays the same. However, brands are advised to create trust with dialog, engage users externally, adapt via co-creation and take an active position if there is an added benefit for users. Brands with an established identity are advised to adapt it to users and focus on co-creation to build the consumer-brand relationship. Brands with a rather weak identity should focus on co-creation to build the brand. In case of image and trust issues, co-creation helps to get feedback and listen to users. This will create trust, enabling co-creation of value centered on a strong brand. Also, the proposed theoretical framework is dynamic and allows for adaptation as it consists of single holistic concepts that can be extended, deepened or applied in parts or as a whole. Limitations include a focus on the Austrian market, examination of consumers as stakeholders with an emphasis on asset users, and limited attention to environmental factors such as legal issues.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages312
SupervisorsAnne Martensen