Local Motors: Designed by the Crowd, Built by the Customer

Posted: 14 Mar 2012

See all articles by Michael I. Norton

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Jeremy Dann

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Date Written: September 12, 2011

Abstract

In the wake of the meltdown among US auto manufacturers in 2009, Jay Rogers - CEO of Local Motors - has a new approach for the automotive industry: Decide which models are produced through online design competitions, and then allow customers to "build their own cars" from the winning designs. The case focuses on two key issues: Can Local Motors build a thriving online design community at a reasonable cost? And can customers be convinced to add their own sweat and labor to the manufacturing process? The case is written from the perspective of a start-up company seeking funding while trying to implement a novel business concept.

Learning Objective: This case highlights the promises and pitfalls of two increasingly common marketing tactics. First, the case explores the concept of involving consumers and communities in the design of one's products - inviting a broader discussion of similar initiatives such as open-source collaborative efforts. Second, the case examines the impact of involving customers in the manufacturing of one's products - again part of a broader conversation about the increased push towards allowing consumers to customize product offerings.

Suggested Citation

Norton, Michael I. and Dann, Jeremy, Local Motors: Designed by the Crowd, Built by the Customer (September 12, 2011). Harvard Business School Marketing Unit Case No. 510-062. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2021121

Michael I. Norton (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Jeremy Dann

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

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