What do people think about bike-sharing-systems? Examining the acceptance and usage

Riding a bicycle is environmentally friendly and good for your health – so it’s no wonder that 64% of Germans own a bicycle (Statista, 2021a). The number of bicycles in Germany last year was higher than ever before at around 79.1 million (Statista, 2021b). However, if you don’t own a bike, or don’t have it with you at the moment, many German cities offer the option of renting one. So-called bike-sharing systems have become increasingly popular in recent years. In the city of Berlin, for example, there are more than 15,000 rental bikes (Technologiestiftung Berlin, 2019).

There are two general types of bike-sharing systems. The first one is station-based bike-sharing, where bicycles are picked up and returned at self-serving docking stations. The second model is free-floating. Here you can simply leave the bicycle at any place, for example, on the side of the road. Usually, you can rent the bike using an app after registering once. In addition to regular bicycles, there is an increasing number of e-bikes being integrated into bike-sharing systems (note: the correct term is ‚pedelcs‘; however, this is rarely used among most users).

Bike-sharing systems have many advantages, such as offering a sustainable and affordable mobility alternative for residents and visitors. Also, bike-sharing systems can bridge existing gaps in the public transport network, such as covering the distance between a public transport station and a person’s home – the so-called last mile (Shaheen et al., 2010). However, before designing a bike-sharing system, it is important to examine the acceptance of (potential) users, including their expectations and potential usage. 

In 2017, we conducted a first study, in which the acceptance of a potential e-bike sharing system was evaluated. In order to examine the acceptance, the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology – Extended (UTAUT; Venkatesh et al., 2012) was used, in which the acceptance is captured as behavioural intention. Via an online survey, we gathered data of 372 participants (aged 18 to 29 years) answering several questions about their beliefs and attitudes towards e-bike sharing. In the subsequent analysis, we saw that the biggest influence on the acceptance of e-bike sharing was the performance expectancy, e.g. reaching the destination faster and being independent of the road traffic and the public transport. Further, the participant’s evaluation of the simplicity of using e-bike sharing had a huge influence on the acceptance. Moreover, social influence (participant’s belief how others think about e-bike sharing), pleasure-related motivation, and habit (if people already bike a lot) influenced the acceptance of e-bike sharing.

Based on these results, we worked out the most important levers for increasing the acceptance of e-bike sharing for two target groups, namely the high- and the low-interested people. Participants were asked how likely they would use e-bike sharing on a Likert Scale from 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely). The high-interested group was made up of those who answered with 5-7, the low-interested group of those who answered with 1-3. Interestingly, the factors leading to a higher acceptance differed between these two groups. In the interested group (n = 112) the acceptance was higher when participants evaluated the use of e-bike sharing as joyful and fun. Further, the independence from road traffic, departure times of public transport, and the simplicity of using the sharing app led to a higher acceptance. Contrarily, participants mentioning a lower interest in using the e-bike sharing system (n = 201) showed a higher acceptance when realizing the environmental aspects, the faster arrival, and when thinking that peers would welcome the use of it. In sum, we have learned that potential users need to be addressed in a target group-specific way to enhance the use of the e-bike sharing system. While among already interested people emotional aspects enhance the acceptance, rational and social arguments can convince lower interested people.

To clarify the potential use of bike-sharing, we conducted a further survey (n = 101) in the city centre of Stuttgart in 2019. The sample consisted of 87% of people who were interested in bike-sharing but had never used it before (i.e., potential users). The remaining 13% of respondents were members of one or more bike share systems (i.e., actual users). Among other things, potential users were asked for which trips they would use bike-sharing, such as trips to work or for leisure activities. Actual users reported the trip purposes for which they were currently using bike-sharing. In addition, the survey investigated whether e-bikes were preferred for different trips over regular bicycles. Since there were only few people in the sample who used bike-sharing at the time, the data of potential and actual users were analysed together.

Here are our main findings:

  • Around 50% of respondents would use bike-sharing for trips to leisure activities, such as driving to the gym or visiting friends, as a tourist, or for running private errands, such as visiting a doctor.
  • Around 40% of respondents would use bike-sharing as a sport, at night times when there are rare or no public transport connections, or for travelling to public transport stations.
  • Around 30% of respondents would use bike-sharing for shopping or commuting to work.
  • E-bikes and regular bicycles are preferred for similar trip purposes. However, the respondents would prefer to travel a distance of 5km with e-bikes, and a distance of 2km with regular bicycles.

Differences of our results to findings of other studies (Buck et al., 2013; LDA Consulting, 2015; Mineta Transportation Institute, 2012) mainly consist of the comparatively low preference to use bike-sharing for commuting. However, previous studies largely focussed on actual bike-sharing users, whereas most respondents in the present study were only potential users. Therefore, user preferences might differ between early bike-sharing adopters and potential bike-sharing users. In addition, our study was conducted specifically for the Stuttgart area. The results for Stuttgart are not fully comparable with results from other metropolitan regions in Germany or worldwide.

What can we learn from these results?

One prominent implication of the results relates to the strategic placement of rental stations. Bike-sharing stations should be installed near sports and leisure facilities, such as fitness centres, restaurants, shopping facilities, tourist attractions, event locations, or other points of interest. Furthermore, it seems reasonable to place bike-sharing stations near public transport stations in order to make it easier to cover the last mile.

The studies also showed that cities need to think broadly about bike-sharing systems to meet the needs of different target groups, such as leisure users, tourists, and commuters. This may include special tariffs for tourists and casual users, the possibility to rent a bicycle spontaneously without registration, or a built-in navigation system with trip suggestions for tourists. Similarly, the communication and advertisement should be in a target-group specific manner, highlighting emotional aspects for convincing interested people and rational/social aspects for attracting lower-interested people.

 

References:

Buck, D., Buehler, R., Happ, P., Rawls, B., Chung, P. & Borecki, N. (2013). Are Bikeshare Users Different from Regular Cyclists? Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2387(1), 112–119. https://doi.org/10.3141/2387-13

LDA Consulting (2015). 2014 Capital Bikeshare Member Survey Report. Retrieved August 10, 2019, from https://d21xlh2maitm24.cloudfront.net/wdc/cabi-2014surveyreport.pdf?mtime=20161206135936

Mineta Transportation Institute (2012). Public Bikesharing in North America: Early Operator and User Understanding. Retrieved August 13, 2019, from https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/24566

Shaheen, S. A., Guzman, S., & Zhang, H. (2010). Bikesharing in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2143(1), 159–167. https://doi.org/10.3141/2143-20

Statista. (2021a). Jeder Zehnte besitzt ein E-Bike. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from https://de.statista.com/infografik/24784/umfrage-welche-fahrrad-typen-die-deutschen-besitzen/

Statista. (2021b). Anzahl der Fahrräder in Deutschland von 2005 bis 2020. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/154198/umfrage/fahrradbestand-in-deutschland/

Technologiestiftung Berlin. (2019). Leihfahrräder in Berlin: Erste Auswertungen. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from https://lab.technologiestiftung-berlin.de/projects/bike-analysis/de/

Venkatesh, V. & Thong, James, Xu, Xin. (2012). Consumer Acceptance and Use of Information Technology: Extending the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology. MIS Quarterly, 36 (1), 157–178.

 

Green Beauty – factors influencing consumers‘ acceptance of green personal care products

Efforts to combat climate change require action at all levels. Therefore, environmental sustainability is also a topic of increasing relevance in the cosmetics industry.

 

Cosmetic products are used by the vast majority of people on a daily basis and have a high environmental impact during their product life cycle due to ingredients and materials used and the entire manufacturing process (Cosmetics Europe, 2017). Hence, cosmetic manufacturers are obliged to take responsibility and produce more ecological alternatives of these millions of products used every day. The cosmetics industry and its business practices are increasingly being scrutinized by consumers, who are becoming more aware that their consumption decisions can have a direct impact on the environment as well as on themselves (Sahota, 2013). Due to a rising level of education and improved access to information consumers are led to increasingly questioning product ingredients, product origins, production methods as well as environmental and ethical impacts of products (Sahota, 2013).

These changes in consumerism and rising health and environmental consciousness have already increased the demand for living a healthier lifestyle and for consuming more natural and organic personal care products (Ghazali et al., 2017). Natural and organic personal care products are products that are used for the care or cleaning of hair, skin, nails, or teeth (e.g. deodorant, soap, shampoo; Kim & Chung, 2011; Todd, 2004; Wu & Chen, 2012). They are made from natural raw materials, which are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. In addition, raw materials from dead vertebrates and ingredients based on mineral oil such as paraffins, silicones or polyethylene glycols (PEG) as well as solid plastic particles are not used (Industrieverband Körperpflege- und Waschmittel e.V., 2020; Verbraucher Initiative e.V., 2019). Organic personal care products are mostly certified by various private labels such as NaTrue, BDIH, Cosmos, or EcoCert.

Due to the increasing relevance of more environmentally conscious and healthier consumption the market for green and organic cosmetics is expanding globally, while the market for conventional cosmetics is mostly stagnating (Industrieverband Körperpflege- und Waschmittel e.V., 2020; POS kompakt, 2019; Sahota, 2013). In Germany, one of the leading European markets for natural and organic cosmetics, the market volume reached more than 1.38 billion Euros in 2019 (Dambacher, 2019; Statista, 2020). Considering this substantial market volume and the significant growth potential (Future Market Insights, 2020), the market for green personal care products represents an important sector that requires in-depth investigation (Liobikienė et al., 2017). In particular, understanding German consumers’ underlying decisions for the acceptance of organic personal care products is worthwhile due to the recent trends and transition into a greener cosmetics market.

In her research, Kathrin Railjan from the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences addressed this issue and identified the key factors influencing the acceptance of green personal care products. For this purpose, the theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) was extended by including other influencing factors that have been shown to be relevant in previous research on green consumption. Survey data from 321 respondents were used to analyse this comprehensive research model using a Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM). The findings revealed that a higher health consciousness and the willingness to pay a higher price compared to conventional cosmetic products as well as a more positive attitude towards the purchase lead to a higher acceptance of green personal care products. In addition, consumers who tend to feel able to make an effective contribution to environmental protection by buying green personal care products (perceived consumer effectiveness) or consumers who know exactly how and where they can purchase such products (control on availability), show a higher acceptance. Furthermore, consumers are more likely to be influenced by people that are important to them like family members or friends (descriptive/injunctive personal norm) in comparison to the purchasing behaviour of society (descriptive social norm). A perceived social pressure to buy green personal care products (injunctive social norm) even causes a lower acceptance of green personal care products.

The factor attitude has the greatest effect on acceptance and is significantly positively influenced by consumers‘ environmental consciousness and product knowledge as well as their perception of how environmentally friendly or healthy (perceived environmental or health product value) the product is compared to conventional alternatives. The attitude is also able to explain the correlation between environmental consciousness and acceptance, so that more environmentally conscious consumers have a more positive attitude towards buying green personal care products and consequently show a higher acceptance. Another finding of the study is also that women are more likely to purchase green personal care products due to their higher environmental consciousness and associated more positive attitude towards the purchase.

What does this mean for practice? Marketers should inform consumers about the specific characteristics of green personal care products in more detail and utilise miniature samples to induce trials. It is also advisable to place green personal care products more visible, to provide consumers with more specific information about where (e.g. in which stores) they can purchase them and about the possible contribution to environmental protection that they can make by purchasing green personal care products. Moreover, marketers should communicate the product advantages of green personal care products (e.g. environmental or health product value) compared to conventional products. To increase acceptance marketers can also implement referral programs. Since the current research showed that the feeling of a certain pressure from society to use green personal care products leads to a reduced acceptance, marketers should refrain from messages that refer to the widespread use of green personal care products in society. In order to increase environmental and health consciousness, public awareness campaigns could be used (e.g. information on the impact of the use of cosmetic products on the environment and human health).

To sum up, the findings are a promising starting point for the conception of target group-specific strategies, the establishment of a strong product positioning as well as the use of effective marketing activities, which include a deep understanding of consumers and focus on the promotion of the central factors influencing their acceptance of green personal care products.

What is your opinion on natural and organic cosmetic products? Do you already buy them on a regular basis? We look forward to hearing about your experiences.

References:

Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T

Cosmetics Europe (Ed.). (2017). Socio-economic development & environmental sustainability: The European Cosmetics Industry´s Contribution 2017. https://www.cosmeticseurope.eu/files/8614/9738/2777/CE_Socio-economic_development_and_environmental_sustainability_report_2017.pdf

Dambacher, E. (2019). Natural & Organic Cosmetics Market 2018. https://www.naturkosmetik-konzepte.de/naturkosmetik-konzepte-presse.html?file=files/naturkosmetikkonzepte/userfiles/presse/2019/PressRelease_NOC_Cosmetics_Germany_2018.pdf

Future Market Insights (Ed.). (2020). Sales of Natural Cosmetics Market to Soar Rapidly, Supported by Increased Demand for Men Grooming Products, Finds FMI. https://www.futuremarketinsights.com/press-release/natural-cosmetics-market

Ghazali, E., Soon, P. C., Mutum, D. S. & Nguyen, B. (2017). Health and cosmetics: Investigating consumers’ values for buying organic personal care products. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 39, 154–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2017.08.002

Industrieverband Körperpflege- und Waschmittel e.V. (Ed.). (2020). Naturkosmetik: Zwischen Wunsch und Realität. https://www.dialog-kosmetik.de/fileadmin/media/download/12_DialogKosmetik.pdf

Kim, H.-Y. & Chung, J.‐E. (2011). Consumer purchase intention for organic personal care products. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 28(1), 40–47. https://doi.org/10.1108/07363761111101930

Liobikienė, G., Grincevičienė, Š. & Bernatonienė, J. (2017). Environmentally friendly behaviour and green purchase in Austria and Lithuania. Journal of Cleaner Production, 142, 3789–3797. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.10.084

POS kompakt (2019). Nachhaltig gepflegt? So sehen die Verbraucherinnen Kosmetik in Deutschland. POS kompakt – Marketing & Kommunikation, 5, 12–13.

Sahota, A. (2013). Sustainability: How the Cosmetics Industry is Greening Up. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118676516

Statista (Hg.). (2020c). Umsatz mit Naturkosmetik in Deutschland in den Jahren 2007 bis 2019. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/201220/umfrage/umsatz-mit-naturkosmetik-in-deutschland/

Todd, A. M. (2004). The Aesthetic Turn in Green Marketing: Environmental Consumer Ethics of Natural Personal Care Products. Ethics & the Environment, 9(2), 86–102. https://doi.org/10.1353/een.2005.0009

Verbraucher Initiative e.V. (Ed.). (2019). Natur- und Biokosmetik. https://verbraucher.com/natur-und-biokosmetik-themenheft.html

Wu, Y.-L. & Chen, Y.-S. (2012). The Analysis of Consumer Purchasing Behavior on Cosmetics. Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, 16(3), 425–429.

Check-in/check-out in public transport: Understanding the users and the acceptance of CICO-BW app

I am sure many of you know this situation: Before using public transportation, you are wondering which ticket you need, how many zones your trip includes or which tariff you must pay (or which ticket is the cheapest alternative). These questions demonstrate that using public transportation in Baden-Württemberg is complicated, which diminishes the attractiveness and, thus, acceptance of public transportation. To support the transition to more sustainable mobility, a change in mobility behaviour is needed. Since facilitating the use of public transport is an important requirement of many people for using it (ADAC e. V., 2017), great attention should be paid to this aspect. Therefore, Baden-Württemberg started a project called CICO-BW. It involves the introduction of app-based e-ticketing with a check-in/check-out system and a daily best price guarantee.

What does this mean?

This means that public transport users can use an app that allows them to check in with a swipe before boarding and check out the same way after getting off. The correct ticket is automatically recognized, the right price is automatically calculated and then charged to the user’s credit card. Users don’t pay more than the price of a one-day ticket. One possible app with this functionality is the FTQ Lab App, which is currently piloted under the name CICO-BW App in the region of Stuttgart. Besides overcoming technical challenges, the success of the app depends on its user acceptance


Source: Fairtiq

What do users want and how do they accept the CICO-BW app?

Examining user acceptance is based on user understanding (Diefenbach & Hassenzahl, 2017). This is achieved through the investigation of user needs, as these are the driving forces behind human behavior (Liebel, 2011). Therefore, we conducted a study in our lab that focused on user needs and their importance for the acceptance of the CICO-BW app. In a multi-method approach, qualitative Interviews (n=11) using a means-end-chain approach (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988) and a quantitative online survey (n=172) should shed light on the general acceptance of CICO-BW app, the relevant user needs and requirements as well as on their fulfilment by the application. By using a well-known acceptance model (UTAUT 2) (Venkatesh, Thong, & Xu, 2011), other relevant factors should be identified as well. Further, possible usage barriers and desired development opportunities were examined.

Key results:

  • The intention to use (4.2/5), the satisfaction (9.1/10) and the willingness to recommend (8.7/10) regarding the CICO-BW app are already quite high, which indicates a high general acceptance. Furthermore, 67% of the respondents think that the CICO-BW app facilitates access to public transport and makes it more attractive.
  • The most important user needs were convenience, security, and hedonism. Convenience was linked to the requirements for a fast, simple, and intuitive ticket purchase, which reduces the effort and stress when using public transport. The need for security should be met by a reliable system, which correctly calculates the price and relieves the user from the concern of getting a wrong ticket. Hedonism should be fulfilled by a gamified app which is fun and entertaining to use and thus increases users’ well-being.
  • Need for convenience is an influencing factor on the intention to use: The greater the fulfilment of the need for convenience, the more people tend to use CICO-BW app. Needs for security and hedonism are influencing factors regarding the satisfaction: The greater the fulfilment of these needs is, the grater the satisfaction with the CICO-BW app. Additionally, people’s interest in the CICO-BW App and their satisfaction also depends on social influence, i.e. whether their social environment wants them to use the app or not (social influence).
  • While the need for security is sufficiently fulfilled by the app and the need for hedonism is met to a very high degree, the need for convenience is currently not fulfilled sufficiently.
  • The greatest usage barriers included forgetting to check out as well as inaccuracies related to location and payment. The frequently desired development opportunities included the integration of more payment options, an existing monthly and annual pass, and saving statistics as well as the option for group rides and the opportunity for a monthly or annual best price.

What do the results imply for practice?

Since convenience is important for user acquisition and shows deficits in terms of fulfilment, this must be the primary focus in practice (e.g., fixing location-related problems). The needs for security and hedonism are important for user retention and their fulfilment should be increased by fixing billing-related problems and using gamification opportunities. Recommendation marketing by users themselves but also by influencers could also be important in terms of increasing user acceptance. Further, implementation of development opportunities such as the integration of an existing monthly/annual pass in the CICO-BW app not only includes occasional users and non-users but also frequent public transport passengers as a target group.

In summary, the identified needs can be used as the basis for developing, evaluating, and promoting the check-in/check-out systems within the CICO project. This ensures a user-centred focus and, consequently, a high level of user acceptance. This is the only way to make public transport in Baden-Württemberg less complicated as well as more attractive. Consequently, it should a positive effect on usage rates.

If you want to understand the results in a practical way and follow the development of the app, you can find more information about the CICO-BW app here.

Source: Fairtiq

References:

ADAC e.V. (2017, 16. Februar). Umfrage: Bereitschaft zum Umstieg auf ÖPNV vorhanden. ADAC. Verfügbar unter: https://presse.adac.de/meldungen/adac-ev/tests/umfrage-bereitschaft-zum-umstieg-auf-oepnv-vorhanden.html

Diefenbach, S., & Hassenzahl, M. (2017). Psychologie in der nutzerzentrierten Produktgestaltung. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Liebel, F. (2011). Motivforschung. In Qualitative Marktforschung in Theorie und Praxis (pp. 473-490). Gabler.

Reynolds, T. J., & Gutman, J. (1988). Laddering theory, method, analysis, and interpretation. Journal of advertising research28(1), 11-31.

Venkatesh, V., Thong, J. Y., & Xu, X. (2012). Consumer acceptance and use of information technology: extending the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology. MIS Quarterly, 157-178.


Do we trust product reviews? Acceptance factors behind electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM)

The modern world of consumption is characterized by the steadily growing e-commerce sector and a large variety of shops, brands and providers. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office (2019), 84% of Germans have already ordered something online and almost a third of users make at least one online purchase per week (Statista, 2019). These numbers have grown since the pandemic, as 36% of Germans indicate that they now purchase more products online (Bitkom, 2020). In order to make the right purchase decision in this unmanageable variety of offers, consumers are increasingly orienting themselves towards recommendations from other customers who have already bought a product and who share their experiences with other users (Lis & Korchmar, 2013). While in the past buyers were mainly influenced by advertising and personal sales advice, studies have shown that today many consumers not only proactively seek digital recommendations, but also prefer them over traditional information sources (Bickart & Schindler, 2001; Heckathorne, 2010; Mourali et al., 2005). This digital communication between consumers is known as electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) and the most relevant form are online product reviews (Lis & Korchmar, 2013).

Consumers see online product reviews as a relevant source of information and orientation, which is tailored to the specific product or service of interest. They are usually regarded as independent and objective. However, due to the high reach, many companies have recognized that product reviews are an inexpensive and at the same time effective instrument in order to increase sales (Lis, 2013). This leads to the issue that some companies have started to manipulate product reviews or even defame competitors with negative reviews. These corporate actions can deceive consumers in their perception and lead them to biased purchase decisions (He et al., 2020). In view of the questionable authenticity and objectivity of some contributions, the perceived credibility of a review plays a decisive role in its impact on consumers.

In his research, Jan Klenk from the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences investigated the determinants and implications of online product reviews based on the classical Hovland-Yale-approach for persuasive messages (Hovland et al., 1953), which considers the sender of the message, the message itself and the recipient of the message as relevant aspects of persuasion. It is of interest to see, how these three aspects interact and determine the credibility of a product review. The central research question was, which determinants (sender, message, recipient) significantly promote the credibility of online product reviews?

In an online survey, 244 consumers were asked to evaluate fictional reviews, which were manipulated regarding the influencing variables described above. Half of the participants stated that they had already written product reviews themselves. Besides, 66% of participants indicated that they use product reviews often or always and 78% stated that they have a positive attitude towards product reviews. The study revealed that product reviews have a great importance for consumption decisions. Credibility of these reviews is largely determined by sender and message-specific characteristics. In addition to the perceived expertise of the sender and the quality of the arguments used in the review, the trustworthiness of the sender is particularly important. It has the highest degree of effectiveness of all factors and should therefore be the focus of possible measures to increase the credibility of online product reviews. In comparison, recipient characteristics were found to be of little relevance in this study.

To sum up, both, the characteristics of the sender as well as of the message, are relevant for credibility and, thus, acceptance of an online product review. Additionally, independence is the basis for sustainable added value from product reviews. Therefore, Klenk suggests that companies should take care to preserve the independence of the reviewers and to present their qualities in a modern and meaningful review system. This is the only way product reviews are accepted by consumers and can create long-term added value for companies, online retailers and consumers.

What are your thoughts on product reviews? Do you rely on them or are you rather skeptical? We are happy to hear your opinion.

 

References:

Bickart, B. & Schindler, R. (2001). Internet Forums As Influential Sources of Consumer Information. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 15(3), 31–40.

Bitkom. (2020). E-Commerce Trends 2020. Accessed on April 12, 2021, retrieved from https://www.bitkom.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/bitkompkcharts_ecommerce2020.pdf

He, S., Hollenbeck, B. & Proserpio, D. (2020). The Market for Fake Reviews. Accessed on May 30, 2020, retrieved from https://ssrn.com/abstract=3664992

Heckathorne. (2010). Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Tweets – The Harris Poll. Accessed on May 30, 2020, retrieved from https://theharrispoll.com/new-york-n-y-june-3-2010-as-of-last-week- twitters-105-million-users-had-collectively-sent-15-billion-tweets-earlier- this-year-facebook-reached-over-400-million-active-users-more-members- tha/

Hovland, C. I., Janis, I. L. & Kelley, H. H. (1953). Communication and persuasion. Yale University Press.

Lis, B. (2013). In eWOM We Trust. Wirtschaftsinformatik, 55(3), 121–134. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11576-013-0360-8

Lis, B. & Korchmar, S. (2013). Digitales Empfehlungsmarketing: Konzeption, Theorien und Determinanten zur Glaubwürdigkeit des Electronic Word-of-Mouth (EWOM). Springer.

Mourali, M., Laroche, M. & Pons, F. (2005). Antecedents of Consumer Relative Preference for Interpersonal Information Sources in Pre-Purchase Search. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 4(5), 307–318. https://doi.org/10.1002/cb.16

Statista. (2019). E-Commerce in Deutschland. Accessed on May 30, 2020, retrieved from https://de.statista.com/statistik/studie/id/6387/dokument/e- commerce-statista-dossier/

Statistisches Bundesamt. (2019). Private Haushalte in der Informationsgesellschaft: Nutzung von Informations- und Kommunikations- technologien. Accessed on May 30, 2020, retrieved from https://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Gesellschaft-Umwelt/Einkommen- Konsum-Lebensbedingungen/IT-Nutzung/Publikationen/Downloads-IT- Nutzung/private-haushalte-ikt-2150400197004.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

Successful Call for Innovation: How WRS and HFT supported six companies from the Stuttgart region to improve their innovative projects

With their „Call for Innovation“, the Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart (WRS) and the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences (HFT) have supported six regional companies in improving innovative projects with acceptance research. Participants included the department store Breuninger, Daimler, Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB), the software company space one, Rho Data GmbH and Pilz GmbH & Co. KG for automation technology.

The projects were wide-ranging in terms of content: From the development of internal or customer-oriented apps to tools for digital collaboration or the question of how artificial intelligence (AI) can optimize the service offering for customers. For example, Daimler AG tested its corporate health management app “My Health” and space one improved it’s “Vispa” collaboration app, which is a virtual workshop room used with the help of avatars. On the other hand, SSB tweaked their „polygo“ app, offering digital access to mobility services in the Stuttgart region and Breuninger submitted the “Instore View” app, showing offers and services of specific stores. Pilz GmbH & Co. KG investigated the worldwide acceptance of chatbots that provide customers with targeted information and Rho Data GmbH created a cloud-based solution that analyzes elements of internal communication such as emails and calendar entries to improve collaboration.

The different companies‘ ideas, products and services were analyzed and optimized by selected students of business psychology at HFT for one semester from fall 2020 to Januaray 2021. The students developed individual approaches and solutions for the individual projects and investigated whether the planned products and services would be accepted by the respective customers.

Click here for further information on the call for innovation. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in working with us or in case you have any questions!

The „Call for Innovation“ is an initiative of WRS and HFT. It took place as part of the M4_LAB project. M4_LAB stands for „Metropolregion 4.0 – Innovation and transfer from transdisciplinary research for energy-efficient urban development, sustainable management and production in the Stuttgart Metropolitan Region „. This transfer project at HFT Stuttgart is funded by the federal-state initiative „Innovative Hochschule „. The „Call for Innovation“ is planned again for fall 2021.

How can we make cycling in big cities safer? Here’s the answer

Riding a bike can be an easy, fun, sustainable and healthy way of transportation. Considering these positive aspects of cycling, cities should focus on becoming more bicycle-friendly. While there are cycle enthusiasts that have used their bike for as long as they can remember and use it to go almost everywhere, 40% of cyclists in Germany do not feel safe when riding a bike (BMVBS & ADFC, 2019).

Looking at these suboptimal conditions for a sustainable future with increased bicycle usage, we decided that we wanted to change something. There must be a solution that makes riding a bike safer and is relatively easy and quick to implement. We wanted to make a sustainable impact on the bicycle infrastructure in cities. We found a way to do so.

Let us introduce you to ROUTEMESAFE.

ROUTEMESAFE is an upcoming smartphone app which aims at making cycling safer. With this crowdsourcing app, places perceived as unsafe by individual cyclists can be marked on an interactive map and therefore made visible to all users, offering an overview of especially unsafe spots in the area. So, before heading out with your bike, you can always check the conditions of your route, and see e.g. if there are any construction sites or other obstacles. By using ROUTEMESAFE, you are better prepared for your bike route. It is also a great way to check the route for your kids. Additionally, you can also add dangerous spots while you ride past them. In order to do so, you simply have to tap the screen and describe the hazard after your journey. Thereby, you can help your fellow bikers to stay safe. By using a thumbs-up voting function we ensure with the help of our users, that only valid and up-to-date danger spots are displayed.

You might think that the smartphone app is enough because it already fulfills your own needs and those of your fellow cyclists. But we wanted to cycle the extra mile and include the local authorities. One key feature of our ideal vision of ROUTEMESAFE is the connection to urban planners in the city administration. The responsible department receives all dangerous spots that are marked by users in the app in order to get real-time feedback on the status of the road conditions for cyclists. Authorities are encouraged to use this information as a basis for decision making regarding the future bicycle infrastructure in your city. If a dangerous spot gets marked over and over again by several cyclists and receives lots of traffic, this can pose a trigger for infrastructural measures, e.g. fixing holes in the street or installing a bike lane.

By combining a crowdsourcing app with the power of local authorities we are confident to see a change in bicycle safety through ROUTEMESAFE – and hopefully an increase in cycling activities in the near future.

 

Want to come for a ride?

What do you think about bike safety in metropolitan areas in general and our app in particular? Let us know!

ROUTEMESAFE is currently available as a prototype. Want to become a Beta tester? Contact us!

We conducted several studies during the process to ensure that the users’ needs are met. Click here to read our research on cycling safety and feel free to reach out to get more information on our target group and user experience research. In case you have any feedback, feel free to contact us. We’re more than happy to hear it.

For safer cycling in metropolitan areas.

 

References:

BMVBS; ADFC, 2019, Fahrrad-Monitor Deutschland 2019, Erhebung durch polis+sinus

Veröffentlicht durch BMVBS, https://www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/DE/Anlage/K/fahrradmonitor-2019-ergebnisse.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

 

How can (electric) Carsharing work in rural areas?

The concept of carsharing is pretty straightforward. Instead of owning a vehicle yourself and being attached to the acquisition costs, insurance, repairs and other running costs, you just pay for a vehicle whenever you need one (c.f. mobility on demand). Depending on the provider, costs are usually calculated as a mix between mileage and time. Carsharing offers you the benefits of using a car without the strings attached to owning a car. According to an analysis by Roland Berger (2014) private cars stay idle for 23 hours every day. Thus, carsharing is an environmentally friendly way to increase the efficiency of car usage.

 

The number of carsharing users is continuously rising. In Germany, over 96% of big cities with more than 100,000 habitants offer carsharing. However, only 5% of municipalities with less than 20.000 habitants provide a carsharing service (Bundesverband Carsharing, 2020). Carsharing in rural areas is facing bigger challenges than in urban areas. For instance, rural areas have a higher level of car ownership and are less densely populated. Additionally, there is a great availability of parking spaces and the public transport system is not as well-developed, making it hard to get to a carsharing vehicle. However, despite these unfavorable conditions, previous research shows that residents in rural areas are just as open towards a carsharing system as their urban counterparts (Wappelhorst et al., 2014).

 But, how exactly can we make carsharing work in rural areas?

This is a target research question in our Smart2Charge project. The goal is to implement an electric carsharing system in Wüstenrot, a municipality with 6,613 habitants in the southwest of Germany. In 2020, we conducted three preceding steps to get detailed insights into the needs as well as the acceptance of the habitants of Wüstenrot: a survey (n=190), qualitative interviews (n=21) and organized a workshop (n=17). In the survey and interviews, we presented to participants a station-based carsharing system with one station in the center of the municipality and two electric vehicles, using a short written paragraph. During the workshop, participants were able to modify the presented carsharing concept or develop a new one.

Here are our preliminary findings:

  • Overall, 15% of the survey sample indicated high interest in the e-carsharing service. Even though this value seems low at first, it is slightly above the German national average (13%) of people being interested in carsharing (IfD Allensbach, 2019).

  • The qualitative interviews revealed that the majority of respondents would like to test the electric carsharing system once it has been implemented. However, 10 out of 13 find it hard to reach and 7 out of 13 perceive it as not flexible enough.

  • In the workshop, the participants created their own preferred carsharing model for Wüstenrot. The favoured carsharing model is a free-floating model that includes carsharing stations in all districts of the municipality, making the carsharing accessible to more residents. If the vehicles are not left at a designated station, a service provider should make sure the vehicles are distributed correctly. Additionally, participants suggested to include a ridesharing feature in the app, making it possible to lower the environmental impact and foster social connections in the community.

These findings are consistent with previous research. It shows that an electric carsharing in rural areas is desirable. Compared to urban carsharing, it is important that it involves a greater sense of community. Successful carsharing systems in rural areas are found in Schleswig Holstein and Spain for example.

The implementation of the carsharing in Wüstenrot will take place in the first half of 2021. Stay tuned to see how it performs.

Click here to receive more information about the Smart2Charge project and contact us in case you have any questions or comments.

 

References:

Bundesverband CarSharing (2020). Aktuelle Zahlen und Fakten zum CarSharing in Deutschland. Bundesverband CarSharing e.V. Available online at https://carsharing.de/alles-ueber-carsharing/carsharing-zahlen/aktuelle-zahlen-fakten-zum-carsharing-deutschland

IfD Allensbach. (2019). Anzahl der Personen in Deutschland, die Carsharing nutzen oder sich dafür interessieren, in den Jahren 2015 bis 2019 (in Millionen) [Graph]. In Statista. Zugriff am 16. Juni 2020, von https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/257867/umfrage/carsharing-interesse-und-nutzung-in-deutschland/

Roland Berger (2014, September 1). Shared Mobility – Wie neue Geschäftsmodelle die Spielregeln für den Personenverkehr ändern, Available online at https://www.presseportal.de/pm/32053/2819936

Wappelhorst, S., Sauer, M., Hinkeldein, D., Bocherding, A., Glaß, T. (2014). Potential of Electric Carsharing in Urban and Rural Areas. In Transportation Research Procedia 4, 374–386. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trpro.2014.11.028/