Mind Your Own Business : Understanding and characterizing value created by consumers in a digital economy

Abstract: In the context of what is commonly referred to as consumer-centric digital economy, personal data has become the new currency which is utilized by consumers to be granted access to seemingly “free apps” within so-called digital zero-price markets. Simultaneously, there are consumers, known as “content creators”, who can generate million-dollar revenues annually. The current understanding of how consumers create and capture value within this new digital economy is scarce and more research is needed to systematically build a basis for creating an understanding of value creation and capture in the consumer-centric digital economy, based on a consumer perspective. The purpose of this dissertation is consequently to explore how consumers create and capture value within a consumer-centric digital economy. The explorative study also serves to obtain an initial overview of the phenomenon and the widely dispersed literature which spans different research fields. The collected data constitute more than 500 articles in combination with empirical data collected from websites.Based on the current literature, central concepts related to consumer-centric digital economy are explained. These include for instance Web 2.0, user-generated content and the consumerto- business relationship. The different concepts are discussed in relation to each other and a trend analysis shows that these concepts are on the rise and have become increasingly popular.The results show that consumers within the digital economy may take different roles, and some create value as business-oriented consumers (i.e., consumers who have a commercial interest). For instance, they make a business out of their participation in the digital economy. Examples are YouTubers, bloggers or creators in virtual worlds such as Second Life. Another, probably larger category is characterized as traditional consumers, for instance they participate in the digital economy through their use of seemingly “free” apps but do not reap any direct monetary benefits. By sharing their personal data, they take part in value creation in a more passive way. The findings also indicate that the level of control, e.g. determined by whether or not value is created within the digital platform, may characterize the prerequisites for value capture. Based on this, a taxonomy for value creation and value capture by consumers in the digital economy is developed. The study also identifies different business model types for business-oriented consumers.

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