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Sneakerhead brand community netnography: An exploratory research

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Sneakerheads are individuals who collect and wear sneakers with great enthusiasm. Most of the sneakers that they covet are limited in quantity and worn by celebrities. Sneakerheads’ culture has not been scrutinized in academia, even though it is characterized by some unique behaviours (e.g., purchasing numerous pairs of sneakers, camping out to purchase newly released sneakers and violent incidents). This exploratory netnography research focuses on an online brand community of sneakerheads, Niketalk.com, and explores its members’ information-sharing behaviours and how these behaviours influence their purchase decision-making processes. Data from two Niketalk.com threads about retro sneaker were analysed. Three thematic categories pertinent to sneakerhead culture emerged from the qualitative data analysis. First, ‘release information’ delineates the key information that sneakerheads share online. Second, the heavy usage of ‘jargon and abbreviations’ reveals how sneakerheads interact with each other. Finally, ‘resemblance, rarity, and inequity’ explains what drives sneakerheads’ purchase decision-making, loyalty to their culture and withdrawal from it. The research suggests that sneakerheads need to be aware of the factors that can drive unnecessary impulse purchases, while sneaker brands need to diversify release channels and monitor brand communities to determine the optimal release amounts that can best benefit them. Furthermore, the brands are expected to control the spread of leaked and false information that can negatively impact anticipated product releases.
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Keywords: brand community; netnography; perceived inequity; rarity; retro branding; sneakerheads

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Kwantlen Polytechnic University 2: Indiana University

Publication date: March 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Fashion, Style & Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal specifically dedicated to the area of fashion scholarship and its interfacings with popular culture. It was established to provide an interdisciplinary environment for fashion academics and practitioners to publish innovative scholarship in all aspects of fashion and popular culture relating to design, textiles, production, promotion, consumption and appearance-related products and services. Articles related to history, manufacturing, aesthetics, sourcing, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, technology, psychological/sociological aspects of dress, style, body image, and cultural identities, as well as purchasing, shopping, and the ways and means consumers construct identity as associated to Fashion, Style & Popular Culture are welcomed. The journal offers a broad range of written and visual scholarship and includes works done through various methods of research. We welcome conceptual, theoretical and translational applied research in the areas of fashion, style and popular culture. This journal hopes to stimulate new discussions in the fashion disciplines and to push the envelope of scholarship by welcoming new and established scholars to submit their works.

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