This study by Labrecque et al. examines how consumer power has evolved with the rise of the Internet and social media. With the introduction of the World Wide Web, many experts in the late 20th century suggested that a power shift from firm to consumer was underway. Labrecque et al. test this prediction and discuss how the balance of power has changed and how it has yet to transform.

In charting its evolution, the authors outline four distinct phases and sources of consumer power, starting with Demand- and Information-based power, and moving to Network- and Crowd-based power. Labrecque et al. discuss the technological advances and the changing power dynamics between firms and consumers through each phase, and note the shift from individually to collectively derived power in the digital age.

Study highlights and key findings:

  • Connects a fragmented body literature to chart the rise of consumer power in the Internet age.
  • Highlights gaps related to defining and explaining the mechanisms that underlie consumer empowerment.
  • Presents a framework describing four distinct sources of consumer power. The framework serves as a guide for future discussions and research.