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The purpose of this research is to investigate value capture innovation in sharing economy platforms. Revenue management and pricing strategies are indeed pivotal aspects platforms should care about when (re)configuring their business models. A mixed-method investigation has been performed to achieve this goal: a longitudinal content analysis and a case studies analysis. Results from the first step of the research show that four main typologies of innovation emerge in the analyzed platforms. Furthermore, the case studies analysis reveals three main patterns (Network, Monetization, Lock-in) and the possible paths a platform can undergo when innovate its value capture mechanisms.
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Vol.:(0123456789)
Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management (2022) 21:255–261
https://doi.org/10.1057/s41272-022-00374-x
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Paths andpatterns ofvalue capture innovation insharing economy
CeciliaGrieco1· GennaroIasevoli2
Received: 12 July 2021 / Accepted: 8 February 2022 / Published online: 22 February 2022
© The Author(s) 2022
Abstract
The purpose of this research is to investigate value capture innovation in sharing economy platforms. Revenue management
and pricing strategies are indeed pivotal aspects platforms should care about when (re)configuring their business models.
A mixed-method investigation has been performed to achieve this goal: a longitudinal content analysis and a case studies
analysis. Results from the first step of the research show that four main typologies of innovation emerge in the analyzed
platforms. Furthermore, the case studies analysis reveals three main patterns (Network, Monetization, Lock-in) and the pos-
sible paths a platform can undergo when innovate its value capture mechanisms.
Keywords Sharing economy· Value capture· Revenue model· Innovation
Introduction
The value capture process refers to the mechanism through
which an organization defines the origin of revenues, the
different ways to receive money in exchange for its services,
as well as the pricing strategies and the cost structure of
the organization (Osterwalder and Pigneur 2010). Indeed,
once the value is created, the organization face the issue of
defining how to capture part of this value in form of revenue.
Despite value capture is one of the three core processes of
the business model of every organization, many of them
might struggle to find the proper one, as capturing value is
often much more difficult than creating it (Bock and George
2018). This emerges as being particularly true for sharing
economy companies, where the growing number do not cor-
respond to the length of the lifespan these platforms enjoy
(Plenter etal. 2017; Täuscher and Kietzmann 2017). Shar-
ing economy companies provide the infrastructure through
which individuals and eventually companies can access or
share existing resources and assets in exchange of monetary
and non-monetary benefits (Mair and Reischauer 2017).
While capturing value is a quite straightforward process for
traditional companies that simply charge the customers for
the value created (Kohler 2015), it becomes much harder
for this kind of platforms where the value comes from the
increased use of idle capacity, and is often largely created
by the users themselves.
The purpose of this research stems from these premises
and is focused on exploring the patterns and the paths of
value capture innovation in sharing economy platforms.
The concept of pattern comes from Alexander etal.
(1977) that define it as “a problem which occurs over and
over again in our environment, and then describes the core
of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can
use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it
the same way twice” (p. x). Scholars have widely applied
this concept to the business model and business model inno-
vation phenomena (Johnson 2010; Abdelkafi etal. 2013;
Remane etal. 2017). As a pattern often describes a solu-
tion for only a certain part of a company’s business model
(Weill and Vitale 2001), the aim of this research is that of
gaining insights about how this concept can be applied to the
value capture mechanisms. As for the path, the goal of this
research is to shed light on the steps that might lead from a
starting to an arrival point, consistently with a wider interest
emerged in literature towards the identification of the paths
of business model innovation (Hekkilä etal. 2018; Muzellec
etal. 2015).
* Cecilia Grieco
cecilia.grieco@uniroma1.it
Gennaro Iasevoli
iasevoli@lumsa.it
1 Sapienza University ofRome, Via Salaria, 113,
00198Rome, Italy
2 LUMSA University ofRome, Via di Porta Castello, 44,
00193Rome, Italy
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256 C.Grieco, G.Iasevoli
Revelant literature
Leaving beside the wider debate about the appropriateness
of talking about profit generation in the sharing phenome-
non, extant literature shows a scant focus on value capture
in sharing economy. Ritter and Schanz (2019) describe
revenue streams as coming from direct or indirect sources
(e.g., charging consumers vs charging a third group sub-
sidizing the consumers) and as being utility bound or
unbound basing on their connection to parameters of use
or not (e.g., usage fee vs subscription). Constantiou etal.
(2017) underline the different degree of market mecha-
nisms that can be in place in sharing platforms: on the
one hand there are platform owners that price the service
dynamically based on secret algorithms, while in other
cases the prices—if any—are based on compensating or
sharing the costs of the supply side.
Properly managing the value capture mechanisms is
pivotal for sharing economy platforms as it can highly
support their survival and their success. Indeed, differ-
ently from products that can produce only a single revenue
stream, platforms can generate many. A wrong revenue
management has been proven to be among the main failure
factors in sharing economy business models. On the one
hand the transaction-centered nature of sharing economy
hampers the creation of switching costs and customer lock-
in strategies. On the other hand, the type of service often
implies a low transaction frequency, when business models
address a market in which product or service transactions
occur infrequently (Täuscher and Kietzmann 2017). As
for these features of the sharing phenomenon, platforms
should focus their attention on creating additional value by
broadening the value capture opportunities, moving for-
ward from relying on a revenue model that is often based
on a single revenue stream (i.e., commission fee) (Lac-
zko etal. 2019). Benefits in terms of increased platforms
stickiness and improved profitability also depends on the
ability to create revenue streams that are complementary
and not interdepended among each other, making the plat-
form viable in the long term (Laczko etal. 2019).
The innovation of the value capture formula sharing
economy platforms are demanded to carry out, is consist-
ent with the wider need to innovate the overall business
model to stay competitive on the market. A static offer-
ing is indeed easily copied by competitors (Smedlund and
Faghankhani 2015). To innovate the business model means
to adopt an innovation in company's BM that is new to
the firm, and whose results is an observable change in the
firm's practices towards its customers and partners (Hek-
kilä etal. 2016).
From a business model point of view, value capture
innovation refers to the innovation of a firm’s core earning
logic, either by changing the revenue model or the cost
structures (Spieth and Schneider 2016). As for the former,
having new revenue models might mean to adopt more
sustainable streams in which revenues are generated indi-
rectly or over time through cross subsidization or life cycle
values (Clauss etal. 2014; Clauss 2017). As for the latter,
cost structures reflect the strategic scope of a firm’s offer-
ing, and it can be changed consistently with the business
model and the corporate strategy (Zott and Amit 2008).
Giesen etal. (2007) refer to ‘revenue model innovation
as one of the three paths to effectively innovate the busi-
ness model. In their view this process includes the recon-
figuration of the offering (product, service, value mix) and/
or the introduction of new pricing models, citing Gillette’s
razor and blade pricing strategy and Netflix’s introduction
of new rental options as successful examples. Consistently,
Hinterhuber and Liozu (2014) pinpoint on the importance of
pricing strategy innovation, that have the potential to brings
new-to-the-industry approaches to pricing strategies, to pric-
ing tactics, and to the organization of pricing, to achieve
increased customer satisfaction and company profits. These
aspects take on a particular configuration in sharing econ-
omy platforms, where there are two or more sides involved,
thus strategic decisions need to be taken also about the pric-
ing issue of whether and how much the different sides are
charged (Evans 2003). The complexity of the pricing struc-
ture makes the revenue model very complex (Rochet and
Tirole 2003).
Materials andmethods
To achieve these goals a two steps methodology was applied,
combining retrospective data and real-time detection of the
innovation process. In the first stage, an iterative explora-
tory content analysis has been performed on a sample of
sharing economy platforms through a longitudinal data col-
lection that was carried out from 2018 to 2020. The sample
for this study was drawn from firms listed in Crunchbase,
a community-based platform that summarizes information
about industry trends, investments and news about global
companies, that emerged as being one of the world’s most
relied upon business information platform. The database
search was performed for the first time in 2018, using “shar-
ing economy”, “collaborative economy” and “Peer-2-Peer
economy” as keywords. The initial search identified 752
companies (excluding duplicates), from which those that
were no longer operating, those that were not properly shar-
ing platforms and those for which available information were
not sufficient were excluded.
The final sample was made of 149 sharing economy plat-
forms that were consistent with the purpose of the research.
Information about these platforms were collected for three
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
257Paths andpatterns ofvalue capture innovation insharing economy
times during a three years timeframe, mainly through the
websites but also from related news, and any available
documents that could be accessed by the researcher. The
framework for the data collection has been drawn from the
literature about business model, value capture and sharing
economy (Table1). Despite the cost structure is an impor-
tant part of the value capture process, in this first stage the
decision was to not include it in the data collection. This was
because of the lack of transparency on this subject in the
publicly available data due to the sensitivity of the informa-
tion (Ciulli and Kolk 2019).
While collecting information, the platforms that from one
year to the other resulted as not being operating anymore
were excluded from the sample. This lead to have 112 plat-
forms in 2019 and 99 platforms in 2020. The output of this
step was the identification of 8 cases in which changes are
evincible from one year to another concerning the analyzed
variables.
In the second phase, those cases for which an innovation
in the value capture process was evidenced from the website
analysis, were adopted for a case studies analysis, to have a
wider view about the overall picture behind these changes,
and to outline which might be considered the paths and the
patterns of value capture innovation(Table2). The study
has been based on the multiple-case (holistic) model (Yin
2014), and the single firm has been considered as the unit
of analysis. Semi-structured interviews and desk research
were used as data sources, also to collect complementary
evidence and, where necessary, triangulate the findings. The
interviews were transcribed and other data were protocolled
(Babbie 2015).
Findings anddiscussion
The longitudinal analysis carried out to identify the changes
in the variables of the value capture, highlights a first inter-
esting information about platforms’ survival, basing on the
numbers of platforms that were no more operating from one
year to the subsequent. Indeed, from year 1 to year 2 there
has been a decrease of 25%, while from year 2 to year 3, a
decrease of 12%. Overall, the innovations in the value cap-
ture along the analyzed timeframe concerned 8 platforms:
4 from year 1 to year 2, 3 from year 2 to year 3, and 1 both
from year 1 to year 2 and to year 2 to year 3.
The identified innovations show different degrees of
depth, where the variables that drove the analysis have been
differently affected.
A first example is made by those type of innovations
within the sub-variable, that has been labeled as Adjustment.
Table 1 Framework for the analysis
Source Authors’ elaboration
VALUE CAPTURE Revenue model Subscription A periodically fee is charged by the
platform provider independent of
peer usage
Botsman and Rogers (2010), Tang
(2016), Roma and Ragaglia (2016),
Kohler (2015), Kannisto (2017),
Täuscher and Kietzmann (2017) and
Kemppainen etal. (2018)
Transaction The platform provider retains a certain
percentage of the transaction value
after successfully matching supply
and demand
Advertising The sale of advertising is the main
source of revenue
Freemium The platform provider offers basic
services or usage for free. Additional
features and benefits are subject to
charge
Paying side Provider Money are raised from the supplier
side
Evans (2003), Rochet and Tirole (2003),
Goos (2014), Bhargava (2014) and
Ardolino etal. (2020)
End customer Money are raised from the end-user
side
Provider and customer Money are raised from both suppliers
and end-users
Third part Money are raised from other partners
i.e. advertiser
Pricing strategy Fixed price The economic value is not negotiable Giesen etal. (2007), Hinterhuber and
Liozu (2014), Banerjee etal. (2015)
and Cachon etal. (2017)
Differentiated price The economic value is defined and it
varies in relation to different vari-
ables
Bargained price The economic value is defined from
time to time during the bargaining
phase
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
258 C.Grieco, G.Iasevoli
This type of change happens for example when the subscrip-
tion fee is increased or decreased in its amount, without
actually changing the revenue model itself, nor the paying
side or the pricing strategy.
At a further level, there are those innovation between
the sub-variables, where a transition from a sub-variable to
another is evincible in one of the analyzed variables. This
typology of innovation has been labeled as Reconfiguration.
Interesting examples are platforms P.3 and P.4, whose inno-
vation refers to the revenue model that in both the cases was
changed from advertising to freemium.
A third typology of innovation that emerged has been
labeled as Innovation, and concerns those changes that hap-
pen in two of the variables. It is interesting to note that in
three cases out of four this type of innovation emerges as
being linked to an integration rather than a mere transition.
This means that the new sub-variables are integrated in the
business model, in addition to the existing ones, leading the
platforms to benefit from a differentiation in their earning
logic. For example, P.1 and P.7 undertaken an integration in
their revenue model that lead also to an integration in the
pricing strategy. As for P.1, from year 1 to year 2, a sub-
scription model with a fixed price was added to the former
transaction fee where a differentiated pricing strategy was
evincible. In P.7, from year 2 to year 3, the former transac-
tion model with a fixed price was integrated with a fixed
priced subscription, that made the transaction fees as dif-
ferentiated according to the type of subscriptions. Revenue
streams integration are also evidenced in P.2, where the
changes cover both the revenue model and the paying side;
the platform started with a transaction fee on demanders in
year 1, and completed it with the introduction of a subscrip-
tion fee for the suppliers in year 2. Finally, a transitional
Innovation emerged in P.8, where a fixed price usage fee in
year 2 was replaced by a subscription fee with differentiated
pricing in year 3.
Lastly, the deeper typology of innovation emerged, that
has been labeled as Radical innovation, as it concerns all of
the analyzed variables, with changes covering at the same
time the revenue model, the paying side and the pricing
strategy. Interesting examples are P.6 and P.5. As for the
former, the initial situation was set on a transaction model
where the fee was defined through a bargained pricing strat-
egy, that was then changed from year 2 to year 3 in favor of
a subscription model, where the fixed fee has to be paid by
all the members of the community, whether they supply or
demand the goods. The case of P.5 is even more complete,
as changes have been detected in all of the three moments
of data collection. P.5 had no revenues in 2018, it moved
to the freemium model (differentiated pricing) charging the
supplier side in 2019 and finally it added a subscription fee
(differentiated pricing) for demanders in 2020(Table3).
Once the typologies of innovation have been detected, a
case studies analysis has been performed, to gain insights
about the phenomenon and to outline which can be consid-
ered the main patterns and the main paths of value capture
innovation in sharing economy companies.
A first element that has to be underlined is that the driving
element in those innovations emerges always as being the
revenue model, with the introduction or integration of new
streams bringing changes in the paying side and/or in the
pricing strategy. Also, regardless of the different typologies
of innovation and the specific sub-variables involved in the
changes as starting and arrival points, there seems to be a
common path in terms of pursued objectives (Fig.1).
In the Network phase, the need is that of attracting a criti-
cal mass of users, thus very often no revenue models are
foreseen. This choice depends on several reasons such as
the introduction on the market, the need to be known and
understood by the users, or the conduction of an idea test-
ing to gather evidence of its potential appealing. Of course,
this cannot be a long-term solution, and the pressing need to
ensure an economic sustainability lead the platforms towards
Table 2 Summary of cases included in the second phase
Source Authors’ elaboration
Code Description (from Crunchbase) Industry Year of
founda-
tion
P.1 Long distance ridesharing platform that connects drivers with empty seats and passengers to share travel costs Mobility 2013
P.2 Mobile application and a peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace that enables car owners to rent out their cars Mobility 2009
P.3 Free app connecting people with their neighbors and with local shops & cafes so that surplus food can be
shared, not thrown away
Food 2015
P.4 Online market place trading free things to promote sharing, reuse and recycling Goods 2008
P.5 World's largest network for discovering and reviewing coworking spaces Space 2015
P.6 Night sharing community where members travel by swapping nights and not money Space 1992
P.7 Marketplace for businesses and marketing and communication agencies Service 2014
P.8 The first fully electric car sharing in Europe Mobility 2015
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
259Paths andpatterns ofvalue capture innovation insharing economy
the adoption of revenue streams to monetize the business
model. In the analyzed cases this passage takes on differ-
ent forms: from no revenues to advertising or transaction
fees, or from advertising to freemium or again transaction
fees. On the other hand, these changes need to be justified
to the users that are asked to pay for something they have
benefited from for free lately. The analysis shows that the
customer benefits that are connected to such changes mostly
refer to the increased security in the use of the platform
or to the better experience that could be delivered. In the
Monetization phase, the platforms can benefit from indi-
rect network effect, for example by attracting advertisers,
but also to reach a greater impact when the goal is to scale
up. However, the need to invest in further innovation and to
increase user’s retention might lead the platforms to adopt
tighter revenue models, such as the freemium and even more
the subscription model, and moving to a Lock-in phase. In
this phase the platforms often integrate new and existing
streams to differentiate the revenues and to add actors on the
paying side. A common goal is often that of overcoming the
Table 3 Value capture innovation typologies in the cases
Source Authors’ elaboration
Case Value capture innovation typology
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
P.1 Rev.: Transaction
Pr.: Differentiated price
Rev.: Transaction + subscription
Pr.: Fixed price
Innovation (integration)
P.2 Rev.: Transaction
Pay.: Supplier
Rev.: Transaction + subscription
Pay.; Demander
Innovation (integration)
P.3 Rev.: Advertising Rev.: Freemium Reconfiguration
P.4 Rev.: Advertising Rev.: Freemium Reconfiguration
P.5 Rev: No revenue Rev.: Freemium
Pay.: Suppliers
Rev.: Freemium + subscription
Pay.: Suppliers + demanders
Radical innovation
P.6 Rev.: Transaction
Pr.: Bargained price
Pay.: Renters
Rev.: Subscription
Pr.: Fixed price
Pay.: Suppliers + demanders
Radical innovation
P.7 Rev.: Transaction
Pr.: Fixed price
Rev.: Transaction + subscription
Pr.: Differentiated + fixed price
Innovation (integration)
P.8 Rev: Usage
Pr.: Fixed price
Rev.: Subscription
Pr.: Differentiated price
Innovation (transition)
Fig. 1 The paths and patterns of value capture innovation
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260 C.Grieco, G.Iasevoli
transactional nature of sharing platforms, that often presents
the risk of users bypassing the platforms after the first match.
A key benefit from this point of view is also having recurring
revenues that have a long-term perspective but also that are
utility unbounded. In terms of users’ benefits, these changes
are promoted as increasing flexibility in using the platform,
allow users to save money when paying only a periodical
subscription fee, supporting the sense of community and
defending the core philosophy of the platform.
Conclusion
The research deals with an under-investigated yet important
topic, adding on the application of business model innova-
tion studies to the field of sharing economy companies, that
is a recent and promising avenue for inquiries (Grieco etal.
2021; Grieco 2021).
The research aims to increase the understanding about
value capture innovation, that can be an important element
in supporting platforms creating and maintaining their com-
petitive advantage. Further investigation will also allow to
shed light on the specific benefits and risks related to the
specific revenue models. Future research avenues open-
ing from here can focus on those platforms that failed, to
understand if the changes in the value capture can really be
considered as determining the survival of the company. The
main limit so far lies in the fact that important information
has been drawn from secondary sources and this might ham-
per the comprehension of the strategies behind the detected
innovation or the real implication they have brought about.
The case studies analysis aims to fill this gap, supporting and
completing the data collection process. Other limits derive
from the nature of the sample, that covers a wide but not
complete set of sharing economy platform. Finally, limi-
tation can also come from dealing with the topic of value
capture, where earning logics are a sensitive information to
collect, and it is not always easy to have transparent infor-
mation about it.
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attri-
bution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adapta-
tion, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long
as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source,
provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes
were made. The images or other third party material in this article are
included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated
otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in
the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not
permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will
need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a
copy of this licence, visit http:// creat iveco mmons. org/ licen ses/ by/4. 0/.
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jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Cecilia Grieco is Assistant Professor of Management at Sapienza Uni-
versity of Rome. She teaches Market driven management and Strate-
gic marketing. Her research activity is currently focused on Business
models innovation and sharing economy platforms. She also writes
about social impact assessment in social enterprises and non-profit
organizations.
Gennaro Iasevoli is the Vice-Rector for Research and Internationaliza-
tion at the LUMSA University, where he is full professor of Manage-
ment and Marketing. He is currently also Coordinator of the Doctorate
“The development of well-being of people and organizations”. His
interests of research are Sharing Economy, Co-marketing, Social enter-
prises, CRM.
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