Brand Co-creation in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Airbnb

Christian Brock Rasmussen & Jura Paulauskaite

Student thesis: Master thesis


Thanks to the Internet, we live in an evermore connected and globalised world. One of the recent phenomena, catalysed and empowered by the rise of Web 2.0, is the spring-up of a plethora of startups categorised as sharing economy, including such players as Uber, TaskRabbit and Kickstarter. Among those, Airbnb is considered as the most representative brand of the sharing economy. Rooting in the contemporary branding thinking, namely seeing branding as a socially-constructed, dynamic process of cocreation, this thesis investigates how a brand is created in the sharing economy. Employing an abductive methodology, the case of Airbnb is used to explore this relatively young and still-developing research area, as well as map out and follow numerous stakeholder interactions that revolved around the brand from 2011 to 2016. To achieve this purpose, 1159 articles related to Airbnb were retrieved from the EBSCOHost online research database and coded according to a pre-defined stakeholder map, which was refined during the research process. One of the main findings indicates that in the sharing economy environment, the firm has less control and plays a less exclusive role in the brand co-creation process than branding literature indicates. Following from this, the interactions between stakeholders also have an impact on the brand, indicating the difference from commonly accepted “hub and spoke” way of seeing the brand co-creation process, where the firm is the centre of the co-creation. Additionally, stakeholder perspectives and nature of interaction in relation to the brand tend to change over time, indicating their dynamic nature. We suggest that brand co-creation and branding in the sharing economy research fields could benefit from further investigating stakeholder relationships as well as separate elements such as brand interactions within Airbnb community

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages137
SupervisorsIoanna Constantiou