Consumers can instigate market turning points: A doctoral thesis reveals the swarm logic of the online forum Suomi24

A study conducted at the University of Helsinki provides new insight into how consumers can change market dynamics suddenly and of their own volition.

The study by Marjoriikka Ylisiurua, MSc (Tech) and BSocSc, shows that market change is not driven solely by external factors or relationships between consumers and other actors. Consumers themselves can actively bring change through mutual interaction.

In her study, Ylisiurua discovered that the dominant way to discuss and respond to new ideas on the online forum Suomi24 resembles the logic of a swarm of insects. Swarm logic sheds light on how communities can organise themselves and suddenly transition to a new topic of discussion. In her thesis, Ylisiurua calls these transitions ‘stimulated turning points’.

Ylisiurua analysed Suomi24 online discussions with the methods of computational social science, focusing on data from 2001, close to the forum’s early years, up to 2017. Her analysis demonstrates how new ideas bring new perspectives to the discussion, which the community may at first ignore.  However, as ongoing discussions lose their appeal over time, the community returns to explore the previously overlooked perspectives.

Swarm logic contributes new perspectives on consumer behaviour

Ylisiurua describes how an anonymous community of consumers can instigate a sudden change in the market. By understanding the mechanism her study reveals, companies can strive to better manage the continuity of their business and the risks it faces.

“My study shows how interaction between consumers affects market dynamics. Swarm logic can help businesses understand the behaviour of large customer groups in environments outside the web as well,” she explains. 

Ylisiurua’s research provides new knowledge about what causes variation in consumer preferences and how companies can prepare for it. This knowledge may be useful, for example, when planning strategies aiming to influence the flexibility and adaptability of similar communities. 

“My research can be used to consider what techniques consumers use to communicate with each other anonymously in, say, a supermarket or on other physical business premises and what consequences this may have in various contexts,” she says. 

Marjoriikka Ylisiurua’s doctoral thesis in consumer research Online swarm dynamics at Suomi24 discussion: Turning points and their stimulation was examined on 10 February at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. Her opponent was Associate Professor Jacob Habinek of the Institute for Analytical Sociology at Linköping University, and her supervisors were Professor Mika Pantzar, Professor Visa Heinonen and University Lecturer Matti Nelimarkka. Serving as custos at the public examination was Professor Mari Niva of the Department of Economics and Management at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.


Contact information

MSc (Tech) and BSocSc Marjoriikka Ylisiurua
marjoriikka.ylisiurua (at)