Do you have an idea of what is a brand community? The purpose of this presentation is to explain the basic intricacies of the brand community.
So, first the learning outcomes. We define the brand communities and next we explain the impact of internet on the emergence of brand communities. We describe the information flows in the brand community. We also described the brand community with an example, we also talk about the popularity of the brand communities is among the top leading brands in the world. And finally, we summarize the benefits of brand communities for companies and customers.
So as regards to the definition, perhaps the most well-known definition indicates that brand communities are specialized, non-geographically bound communities, based on structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand.
Again, the members gather in brand communities on a regular basis and they share a particular interest.
And again, the focus is on a particular brand.
The emergence of brand communities really started with the emergence of internet, as Internet provides the infrastructure for communication and information exchange and where we can overcome the space and time constraints. So again, the basic foundation of internet is community building, and that coincides very well with brand communities.
So, let’s talk about the information flows and communication in a brand community. In the beginning, we just had the brand and we have the customers and first, the information is flowing from the brand to the customers. Over time, information develops to full information flow.
And in the next stage, we have communication when the information is also flowing from the customer to the brand and this might develop to full information over time. In the second stage, the information is also flowing between the brand community members and then we have a brand community. So, information is flowing from the brand to the members, from the member to the brand and from a member to another member and as said then we have a brand community.
So, let me give you an example. I have owned several Volvo’s in my life, and that’s the reason I chose that as an example. In fact, I have owned 15 so I belong to a Volvo brand community and in the first stage, I was just browsing the content. And then I was a lurker. At some stage, I started to like to content, and then I called an active lurker.
Nowadays, I also post comments into brand community and not only as a response to the brand, but also posting other members posts. So again, the information flowing from me to the other members. In that case, I’m called a poster.
So, let’s have a look how popular these brand cameras actually are. I had a look at 100 top leading brands in the world and 98 of them actually have a brand community with the exception to financial services companies, which are Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. So maybe financial services companies brand communities are not a good way to communicate with customers.
The benefits from the company’s point of view and customers point of view are listed in this table. So, when we look at marketing promotion, from the company’s point of view, the promotion provides higher and deeper brand awareness and for the customers, the information is trustworthy, informative and entertaining.
As far as the relationship management is concerned, we have a mutual relationship with the customers and with their company. Perceived value is cheaper than in traditional marketing communication. This is just one dimension of brand communities of course, and for the customers higher benefits of the products, deeper understanding of the brand culture.
As regards to the improvement in customer centric measures, we have the traditional chain here, from customer satisfaction to loyalty to higher revenue to higher market share and profitability and for the customer better products and services.
As far as engagement is concerned, we have higher commitment to the brand by the customers and customers are emotionally involved. In the new product development space, we speak about co-creation, we have a deeper knowledge of customer needs. And for the customers they have an opportunity to provide feedback for the company.
In conclusion, and brand communities are a new way to really engage customers.
There way communication is needed.
Activities proceed at multiple levels.
Brand communities are really popular.
And finally, they require careful distance management. Too deep management by brand community managers might be perceived as not being right.
Thompson Rivers University, Canada
Dr. Matti Haverila is a professor of marketing at Thompson Rivers University. He is an author of three books, and has published about 100 academic papers. His research interests are brand communities, new product development, customer satisfaction and loyalty and wine marketing.
Dr. Haverila also has managerial experience in Finland, U.K., the Bahamas and the United States in industries like software, consumer products and forest industry products.
Matti graduated with MBA from University of Oregon, a M.Sc., a Certificate in Education from Tampere University of Applied Sciences and Ph.D. from Tampere University of Technology, Finland.
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