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Research: When Selling a New Idea, Differentiation Beats Transparency

Crowdfunding: research shows uniqueness and differentiation are key.
Published on
20 November 2016

If you would like to raise funds for a project using crowdfunding, recent research highlights that it is better to underline what makes your idea unique rather than emphasize transparency and a multitude of explanations. This conclusion is the result of an analysis of 30,000 crowdfunding campaigns on the Indiegogo platform.

This article from Grégoire Croidieu and Mickaël Buffart is the subject of the 30th GEM LAB Executive Summaries.

From the article

TMI : Signaling Credible Claims in Crowdfunding Campaign Narratives
Group & Organization Management, 41(6), 717–750. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601116651181
Phillip H.Kim, Mickaël Buffart & Grégoire Croidieu (2016)

How can you convince others that your project (entrepreneurship, charity, artistic, etc.) is worthy when you do not yet have any proof of its value? The authors of this study explored the question using the specific case of crowdfunding.

Their work examined approximately 30,000 presentation texts for projects on Indiegogo between 2008 and 2013. These pitches were on average 640 words long and promoted projects with an average yield of 3,500 dollars.

Finding the right balance between two key ingredients

The authors compared two strategies. First, communication that centered on the uniqueness of an idea, or what the idea offers of better in comparison to competitors. Second, communication based on transparency in order to share all details about the idea including facts, motivations and costs (the result being a more complex message).

Both of these ingredients can of course be found in the majority of pitches. However, the balance between the two varies greatly from project to project and this can have a significant impact on how much was raised in comparison to the initial goal.

[...] the more language elements relate to uniqueness and differentiation, the better the ratio between funds raised and initial goal [...]

The results of the study highlight that the more language elements related to uniqueness and differentiation, the better the ratio between funds raised and initial goal (on the condition that all other factors are equal).

Quantity does not remplace quality

In contrast, the more a pitch included language elements tied to transparency, the further it was from its fundraising goal. In this case, examples of language elements include words such as because, for example, as and in fact. This also includes statements such as I think that, I believe that and I know that...

Of course the balance between these language elements is most likely different if an entrepreneur is speaking with banks or potential investors. However, in the context of crowdfunding, there is no reason to compensate a lack of concrete achievements by offering extra transparency and explanations. Uniqueness and differentiation are what speaks most to anonymous crowdfunders.

Key points

  • The words used in pitches are the primary resources an entrepreneur has at his or her disposal to convince and collect funds from anonymous crowdfunders.
  • An entrepreneur has to chose the right balance between a message based on transparency or differentiation. Too much of the former can create a message that is too complex. The latter, which is based on communicating how the project is different from existing ideas, appears to be the most efficient approach.

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    Quand les processus d'innovation revêtent leur col noir: Chanel et Jobs

    Steve Jobs est décédé en 2011, quarante ans à quelques mois près après Coco Chanel (1883-1971). Aussitôt se sont envolées les ventes de pulls noirs à col roulé, lequel donne progressivement son nom à une nouvelle catégorie de travailleurs : les «...

  • Published on 12 April 2016

    Art et créativité : le serious game est-il Dada ?

    Dada a 100 ans! Ce mouvement artistique anticonformiste a vu le jour au Cabaret Voltaire à Zurich en février 1916. En prônant la liberté de création sous toutes ses formes, il a ouvert la voie à plusieurs mouvements et groupes créatifs dont le...

  • websites such as TripAdvisor have given consumers the power to impact a company's image.
    Published on 22 March 2016

    TripAdvisor: How Companies React to Negative Ratings

    The world wide web has revolutionized the hotel, restaurant and other travel-related industries. From online bookings to customer ratings, companies have to learn how to operate in this new environment. While an organization's market identity used...

  • websites such as TripAdvisor have given consumers the power to impact a company's image.
    Published on 22 March 2016

    Recherche : TripAdvisor ou l’irrépressible montée du pouvoir des consommateurs

    A travers TripAdvisor, les clients ont une influence croissante sur la réputation des hôtels et ces derniers répondent de plus en plus aux avis défavorables. C'est ce que montre une étude menée entre 2002 et 2012 sur les avis des clients de 600...

  • Published on 03 March 2016

    Du cost-killer à l’acheteur intrapreneur, un nouveau métier

    Depuis les années 1990, les acheteurs sont souvent assimilés à des cost killers. Leur principale mission consisterait en effet à réduire au maximum les coûts des approvisionnements. À cette image négative est également associée une accusation forte...

  • Research: Creating Visitor Engagement Through Music
    Published on 29 February 2016

    Research: Creating Visitor Engagement Through Music

    Digital communications have created an information overload for customers. To stand out on the world wide web, companies have to offer clients a high-impact experience. When used properly, music provides a simple yet effective means of creating a...

  •  Thibault Daudigeos is a researcher in Sustainability, Corporate Social Reponsibility, Alternative forms of Organization, Sharing economy, and new models of management at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
    Published on 26 January 2016

    Research: Corporate Social Responsibility at Odds with Global Markets?

    Corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies have received much attention for their potential to improve societal conditions while creating value for companies. However, this latest study from Grenoble Ecole de Management highlights the fact that...

  •  Thibault Daudigeos is a researcher in Sustainability, Corporate Social Reponsibility, Alternative forms of Organization, Sharing economy, and new models of management at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
    Published on 26 January 2016

    Recherche : Responsabilité sociale des entreprises globalisées, plus facile à dire qu’à faire

    Les démarches de Responsabilité sociale des entreprises (RSE) sont censées créer de la valeur. Pourtant, elles peinent à se mettre en place dans les secteurs où les chaînes de valeur sont éclatées : elles coûtent cher et ne profitent pas forcément à...

  • Published on 04 January 2016

    Recherche : Produit d’origine locale, une mention qui parle au consommateur

    La mention « origine locale » apposée sur un produit alimentaire déclenche chez le consommateur des perceptions plus positives et une intention d'achat plus forte qu'un produit d'une autre région française. Trois études portant sur 632 consommateurs...

  • Published on 08 December 2015

    Book : Making Innovation Last

    « Unlike any book in our fields, this book is explicitly cross disciplinary even as it focuses on innovation streams over time… I could not recommend this book more highly; it has the potential to be a landmark contribution” Michael L. Tushman,...

  • Published on 25 November 2015

    Sharing economy: an identity crisis for developing companies

    “The sharing economy offers a new economic model that disrupts traditional markets such as the automotive and hotel industries. Yet, as these new models evolve from community-based interactions to the wide-scale monetization of individual resources...

  • Published on 16 July 2015

    Research: Unraveling the Link Between Managerial Risk-Taking and Innovation - the Mediating Role of a Risk-Taking Climate

    Innovation has become a crucial factor for companies looking to maintain their competitive advantage. Yet creating innovative ideas requires a certain level of risk-taking. While research on this subject has focused primarily on risk-taking at one...

  • Published on 22 June 2015

    Research: Microeconomic Degrowth, Community Supported Agriculture

    Economic growth is the cornerstone of mainstream macroeconomics. In the face of economic crises and unemployment, growth has long been the only acceptable solution. Yet many issues have started to challenge this dominant economic model. As a result...

  • Recherche : nutrition des sportifs et plaisir
    Published on 16 June 2015

    Is It Fun or Exercise ? The Framing of Physical Activity Biases Subsequent Snacking

    While the benefits of exercising are widely accepted by consumers and healthcare providers, people who begin an exercise program don't necessarily lose weight. A fact that can be frustrating not only for practitioners, but their coaches and...

  • Mark Olsthoorn, professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Mangement
    Published on 07 April 2015

    Barriers to Electricity Load Shift in Companies, a Survey-Based Exploration of the End-User Perspective

    Overcoming the barriers to renewable energy systems is a key challenge. In shifting from centralized fossil-fuel energy production to decentralized solar and wind energy production, countries are being forced to act on multiple fronts : flexible...

  • Mark Olsthoorn, professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Mangement
    Published on 07 April 2015

    Recherche : Effacement de consommation électrique, pourquoi les industriels hésitent

    En acceptant de réduire leur consommation électrique lors de pics de demande, les industriels faciliteraient l'équilibrage des réseaux de distribution. Or, ils ont de solides arguments pour ne pas jouer la carte de la flexibilité. Une étude les...

  • Vincent Mangematin, Associate Dean for Corporate Relations and Research at Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 17 March 2015

    Orchestrating Innovation with User Communities in the Creative Industries

    In search of continuous innovation, the digital creative industries have expanded their interactions with user communities to develop their products. This study highlights the evolution of these company-user relationships that allow for fluid...

  • Published on 16 January 2015

    Nostalgia makes consumers more likely to spend or donate money

    The use of nostalgia has been a top trend in marketing in the last few years, in commercials, product lines and even TV shows. The present study demonstrates that feeling nostalgic weakens the desire to hold on to money, and makes it easier to part...

  • Published on 16 January 2015

    Recherche : Pourquoi la nostalgie vous donne envie d’acheter

    La mode actuelle des produits « rétro » ou vintage ne doit rien au hasard. Une étude co-écrite par Jannine Lasaleta, chercheur à GEM, montre que ce qui suscite un sentiment de nostalgie réduit simultanément l’attrait pour l’argent. Le dépenser...

  • Joachim Schleich, professor and energy markets experts at Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 01 December 2014

    Research: Switching to energy efficient lighting : a bright idea!

    Energy efficiency policies such as the EU ban on incandescent light bulbs (and on halogen ones in the near future) have been the subject of much discussion in the last few years. The majority of the academic community predicted that new emerging...

  • Published on 07 November 2014

    Research : Digitization, Changing How We Work and Coordinate Projects

    All of us use digital tools and objects that can now be shared and combined in a variety of ways. This change has profoundly influenced the organization of work with projects being divided according to specialization and geographical location.

  • Published on 07 November 2014

    Recherche : Effets spéciaux pour le cinéma, l’art de faire collaborer 60 métiers

    Comment les spécialistes des effets spéciaux collaborent-ils sur un même film alors qu’ils appartiennent à 60 métiers différents et sont répartis dans le monde entier ? Deux chercheurs de GEM ont étudié les mécanismes de coordination qui structurent...

  • Erno TORNIKOSKI is a Professor in Entrepreneurship at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
    Published on 16 September 2014

    Research: How can the start-up process be accelerated?

    Success or failure of new businesses is what most studies related to the start-up process focus on. However, in today's dynamic market, time is a highly critical issue for nascent entrepreneurs.