Leveraging User-Generated Content for Demand-Side Strategy: An Abstract
The amount of user-generated content (UGC) in the hospitality industry has exploded. Much of it exists in crowdsourced social media, forums, blogs and review sites. Schuckert et al. (2015) did a study on the role of online customer reviews in the hospitality industry and found that reviews can be a strategic tool and have a crucial role in hospitality and tourism management. By investigating user-generated material more thoroughly, the firms can better align their social media messages to the different and unique needs of their social media users (Zhu and Chen 2015). In doing this, they can better leverage the increasingly important social media. Although the predominant strategic perspectives, including the resource-based view, transaction cost economics and positioning tend to ignore the ultimate objects of strategy, the customer, the advent of social media may lead to a change. With the growth of social media and other UGC, there is a significant opportunity to use the views, thoughts, ideas, attitudes and so on from the actual consumer to help build a strategy from the bottom-up, rather than just top-down. Unsurprisingly, a focus on bottom-up or demand-side strategy is appropriate, especially in marketing strategy, where the customer plays such a crucial role. As this UGC is a source of customer intelligence, firms should be able to improve their market research resulting in better strategic decision making. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study is to understand whether a firm strategy can be enriched by using demand-side insights generated by customers.
Resulting in the primary question—How can user-generated content help firms make strategic decisions?
In sum, in this research, we argue that the crowd through its production of online content can aid firms in their demand-side marketing research, particularly concerning strategic decision making. Furthermore, as the amount of user-generated content continues to grow, new tools and techniques allow firms and managers to explore consumers more deeply and to create value, new products and services and new business opportunities. This study uses qualitative data from TripAdvisor and computer-assisted content analysis. From this overall sampling frame of user comments using a custom application, we collected customer reviews and comments from three restaurant segments in New York State—steakhouses, Italian restaurants, and seafood restaurants for an overall total of 282,087 comments. The results confirm that accessing consumer insight directly can be valuable in assisting marketers in making decisions, especially demand-side strategic decisions. It further found that crowdsourcing through the use of user-generated content can be a valuable technique in conducting market research. This study contributes to the theory in a number of ways including giving empirical support for the idea by using user-generated content from customers.