People as Virtual Products: Analyzing Human Exchanges on Craigslist and Gumtree.Com

Mark S. Rosenbaum, Northern Illinois University*
Kate L. Daunt (Reynolds), Cardiff Business School

This article examines marketing as exchange in the context of online personal advertisements that appear on U.S.-based Craigslist and U.K.-based Gumtree.com. Building on the person-as- product paradigm, we put forth a resource exchange framework that details 13 product, or human, characteristics that people offer and seek in free, online personal advertisements. In addition, we reveal differences between heterosexual and homosexual Internet users in their use of photographs and personal descriptions in their advertisements. The results reveal the extent to which online classified sites are changing American society, as people are engaging in physical, service, and informational exchanges in ways that are not available in print advertisements. We discuss health implications regarding the use of personal advertisements on Craigslist, as the site is being used by groups of consumers who seek and provide sexual activities and those who desire discrete relationships with others.

 

* Corresponding Author