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The value of participation in virtual consumer communities on brand loyalty

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Purpose ‐ To examine the effects of consumers' lurking and posting behaviors in virtual consumer communities on specific brand loyalty. Design/methodology/approach ‐ An online survey of a virtual community of Apple computer users was conducted to test a model of involvement, participation, loyalty, trust, and attitudes toward the brand exist in messages within the community. Findings ‐ The causes and effects of lurking and posting differed. Lurking contributed to brand loyalty more than posting did, and the primary purpose of lurking was to look for information regarding product function/performance, instead of satisfying consumers' affective needs. Research limitations/implications ‐ As a result of the limitations in a computer mediated communication environment, virtual consumer communities should be perceived as an arena for weak-tied strangers to communicate for word-of-mouth (WOM) behavior, rather than as a brand community. Practical implications ‐ Although negative messages in a community can hurt brand image, companies should encourage the establishment of communities about their products and encourage consumers to participate in them. Originality/value ‐ Although the importance of virtual communities has been recognized, few studies have been done to examine the business value of consumer communities. Based on perspectives of brand community and WOM behavior, this paper contributes to virtual community and marketing research by clarifying the effects of consumers' lurking and posting behaviors in a consumer community on brand loyalty.
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Keywords: Brand loyalty; Buying behaviour; Internet

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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