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If customers suddenly become employees

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Je mehr der Kunde sein Produkt per Mausklick selbst gestalten kann, desto mehr würde er dafür auch zahlen.

The more the customer can design his product click of the mouse itself, the more he would pay for it.

DÜSSELDORF. If the good old Karl Marx is ready to be waving from many economists and managers. With ideas from the 19th Century and the demonization of the capital they want to have anything to do. They could benefit from his thoughts. Marx had denounced even then the alienation of workers from their products.

Precisely for this alienation companies could now capitalize, Nikolaus Franke and Ulrike Kaiser found by Martin Schreier Vienna University of Economics and Marketing from the Institute of Milan’s Bocconi University. Namely, if the customer to the employees, as they create their "own" products. Especially their scientific work of it by the Association of University Professors of Management with the Best Paper Award was awarded 2010th

The three researchers set about to explain a paradox that in the Internet age receives a whole new dimension: that we can be self-manufactured products, a "seemingly irrational high appreciation" given. Hobby painters sell their favorite pictures are very reluctant or very expensive, although their artistic value is usually limited. These amateur painter, but would spend a cent for the full picture of another amateur painter. The willingness to pay for self-created is so much higher than that of similar objects. For companies, that fact is relevant if consumers can design their products thanks to the internet individually.

In fact, more and more manufacturers offer their customers that they mouse click scarves, T-shirts or watches himself on the Internet create. The three researchers wanted to find out, whether customers are willing to pay more for a product if they have worked on this. "This of course contradicts the widespread economists logic that work is suffering," said Franke.

The phenomenon investigated in five experiments, the researchers called it the "I Designed It Myself"-Effect. Your question they wanted answered in approximately 500 research participants, is there such an effect even if the customers need instead of hours of work only a few mouse clicks? And the volunteers are willing to pay for even more participation for a higher price?

If so, then it would not make sense to make it as easy as possible customers to design their own product, but it would make sense to give them as many choices. The results of the experiments exceeded the expectations of the researchers.

They had conducted extensive interviews with a group of participants, other groups could even design t-shirts, watches or skis. Some groups had more design options than others. Later, the subjects were able to provide for their "own" products in a special auction. The results showed that participants who had even laid hands on their products, on average, nearly 50 percent would pay more for it than if they had not inserted their own labor. Can be explained by the endowment. Then consider some people as their "own", in which they themselves have participated. Or, as Frank puts it: "No work, no pride."

The three researchers conclude: The existing rule that Internet tools should be use for the custom design of products as easy as possible is not always correct. Do the companies more opportunities to Contribute to the products more valuable to customers. For companies this is good news. You may require very different prices for the products without having to insert themselves more manpower.

That of all companies with products to create it yourself then some compensation for workers who have become foreign to their normal jobs would probably be surprised the good old Marx.

"The I Designed It Myself"-Effect in Mass Customization " N. Frank, M. Schreier, U. Kaiser (Management Science, January 2010)

Download the study: handelsblatt.com / links