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It takes a marketplace community to raise brand commitment: the role of online communities

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Companies are increasingly using online communities to create value for the firm and their customers. To date, evidence regarding the effectiveness of online communities as a marketing tool has been primarily anecdotal. Yet, industry practice suggests that online communities add value in several ways by: 1) building brand awareness and image, 2) providing access to the voice of loyal customers, 3) increasing supplier commitment, and 4) generating revenue from new and existing customers. Relying on social identity theory and reciprocal action theory, we develop a framework that explores the process of how a firm's online community enhances consumers' brand commitment. We empirically examine how online communities influence brand commitment and subsequent customer behaviour in a field study of over 1,500 members of an existing online community for herbal products. In our analysis, we confirm that online community commitment is a key influence on brand commitment. We also find that online community participants possess stronger brand commitment than consumers who are not members of the community. Finally, our results reveal that among online community members, brand commitment is enhanced for both active brand users and non-users of the targeted brand.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-04-01

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