Experiential-driven engagement as strategic resource for multi-sided platforms - A managerial perspective
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Digital technologies help create an environment where the boundaries of the firm become more blurry, leading to customers suddenly playing a more important role in the value-creation process. Digital Multi-sided Platforms (MSP), acting as an interface between different groups of users, rely on an customer engagement (CE) as a way of accessing valuable customer-owned resources. The objective of this study is to explore how experiential-driven engagement, characterized by recreational use and hedonic motivations, can function as a strategic resource for MSPs. In order to provide the theoretical framework for the study, a preliminary systematic literature review focusing on market-based assets (MBAs), an extension to the resource-based view, was conducted. The resulting theoretical framework was used to guide an exploratory case study focusing on five internet platforms. The case findings also suggest that experiential-driven engagement can be viewed as a strategic market-based asset given that it seemingly provides platforms with hard-to-imitate appropriable value. When it comes to customers, the case illustrates how experiential-driven engagement can potentially deliver added customer value in the form of entertainment, enjoyment and escapism. When it comes to the platforms, the evidence points at a range of ways experiential-driven engagement can have valuable outcomes for platforms. On the one hand, having a highly participative user base engaging with interactive social tools, might allow companies to access customer knowledge as well as customer network assets. One the other hand, experiential-driven users manifesting enduring involvement and a ritualistic orientation towards the offering, might give platforms access to valuable customer time resources, in the form of frequent non-directed sessions. The analysis of the findings suggest that additional value, in the form of additional value-adding transactions, can be attained when these three customer-owned assets are used in conjunction with exploratory tools (ie. features encouraging exploration and discovery). Finally, path dependency, in the form of past decisions and barriers to attracting new kinds of engagement show potential of acting as a significant potential barrier to imitation.