While some collaborative consumption activities are underpinned by commercial logics and dispositions, local collaborative consumer communities are organised around non-commercial values and driven by the desire to organise social relationships differently. These communities are based on the notions of a commons, sharing and reciprocity. However, because they make little use of digital tools (internet to coordinate the exchange of services, social media to communicate), they are not very visible to consumers. This paper aims to identify these non-commercial organisations’ relationship to digital tools and determine how these organisations can generate individual and/or collective well-being.
This study examined the case of the local exchange trading system (LETS), a local collaborative consumer community that practices a moneyless exchange of services. A qualitative study was conducted based on 23 in-depth interviews with LETS managers.
Due to the communities’ local roots and regular face-to-face meet-ups, there did not seem to be a pressing need to use an online platform to coordinate the exchange of services. However, the results showed that the use of digital tools increased these communities’ well-being potential (e.g. development of social ties, solidarity and social equality) while reducing their negative effects (e.g. fatigue due to community involvement and difficulty integrating new members). They also introduce the notions of generation, founder’s personality and management team’s dynamism into the collaborative consumption literature.
It is important to focus on how these “alternative” markets function. Consumers use them but without abandoning more traditional markets. Understanding how they work improves the understanding of the competition they pose to traditional services and how the different ecosystems complement one another.
This research was founded by Région Bretagne (M@rsouin).
Guillemot, S. and Privat, H. (2019), "The role of technology in collaborative consumer communities", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 7, pp. 837-850. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-12-2018-0361
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