Digital channels for building collaborative consumption communities

11 July 2017

Collaborative consumption firms leverage networked peers, communicating, collaborating and even delivering services to one another through a central marketplace channel. This raises questions as to the nature of this new form of digital channel strategy and deployment from a firm’s perspective. As a first step, this research seeks to help bridge the gap in knowledge by establishing an understanding of the digital channel usage of collaborative consumption firms. A qualitative content analysis of 30 collaborative consumption firms was conducted using multiple data sources and coded into typologies against a predetermined coding scheme. These results were then compared against existing literature on digital channel usage in regards to a wider company usage. This study identifies the digital channel usage and digital channel typology of each of the 30 firms associated within the collaborative consumption domain. The study shows a distinct increase in the use of social and community digital channels between traditional firms and collaborative consumption firms. As a result of this study, a concise definition of a collaborative consumption firm is provided, the digital channel usage of collaborative consumption firms is detailed and insights are provided for each sub-type of collaborative consumption. This study contributes to the understanding of the collaborative consumption phenomena, the business model of collaborative consumption firms and digital channels. This study assists in describing the shift from traditional firms to peer-to-peer systems. Finally, a theoretical model is provided that demonstrates the nuance of collaborative consumption channel choice within each subcategory for future researchers to test and reflect upon. This study demonstrates how collaborative consumption firms are allowing customers to drive interaction rather than traditional business-to-customer messages. A theoretical model is provided which shows contemporary marketers how to best dictate a digital channel strategy for a collaborative consumption style initiative. Contributions include: a definition of what a collaborative consumption firm and its channels pertain to and how to design a collaborative consumption digital channel strategy. This study presents a digital channel comparison between collaborative consumption firms and traditional organisations.