While consumers have always had a special place in the marketing literature, the roleassigned to them has changed over time, concurrently with developments in marketing theoryand the evolution of markets. A mere target for the “Functional School” of the seventies(Barksdale and Darden, 1971), consumers become key information sources in the “MarketOrientation” literature (Kohli and Jaworski, 1990), co-producers according to the “Servicemarketing” literature (Fisk,
, 1993), partners for innovative purposes in the “Lead User”theory (von Hippel, 1986), and, finally, key resources and co-creators of value in the“Service-Dominant Logic” perspective (Vargo and Lusch, 2004). Over the years, this trendhas revealed an enrichment and empowerment of the role assigned to consumers (Lusch
, 2007).In line with this tendency, the consumer’s role has recently expanded to includeinvestment support. This phenomenon, called crowdfunding, is a collective effort by peoplewho network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to invest in andsupport efforts initiated by other people or organizations (Ordanini, 2009). The idea thatsome people may decide to pay for producing and promoting a product (instead of buying it),and bear the risk associated with that decision, represents a further step in the evolution of consumers’ roles, that involves a mix of entrepreneurship and social network participation.The selection of the initiatives to be supported, the monetary investment from consumers, theoutsourcing of entrepreneurial risk by the organization that sets up the crowdfunding activity,and the blurring boundaries between marketing and finance are only some of the new issuesinvolved with crowdfunding initiatives.