7SSMM503 Consumer Behaviour Dr. Chloe Preece An Alter-brand Brand Community Case Study: AIESEC Alumni Community
Candidate Number Submission Deadline Word Count
R05493 4 p.m 10th Dec. 2012 1456
An Alter-brand Brand Community Case Study: AIESEC Alumni Community Alter-brand community is a voluntarily formed group in which community members “create the physical offering, author the text, generate the experience and evolve the brand meaning” as “prosumers” (Pitt et al., 2006, p. 119)—the producers and consumers are actually the same group (Cromie and Ewing, 2009, p. 219). Normally, members in an alter-brand community are selfmotivated to develop and co-create a brand and in turn embed further and wider meanings in the brand. In this essay, AIESEC alumni community will be analyzed as a representative alter-brand community. It will begin with an introduction of AIESEC and its alumni community, followed by a presentation about a new market offering—theme conferences focusing on social issues— contributed by the alumni community, then the implications that this market offering and the change in brand meaning have posed on AIESEC and its alumni community will be addressed in detail, and ends up with suggestions for future research. Established in 1948, AIESEC is currently the largest international youth-run organization in the world. It aims to provide young students with international platforms, mainly through international exchange and internship programs, to develop their leadership and internationalized vision in order to cultivate leaders for tomorrow (AIESEC, 2012; Richter and Schäfermeyer, 2011). AIESEC alumni community is a “specialized” and geographically boundary-free community (Muniz and O’Guinn, 2001, p. 412) founded voluntarily in 1986 by several exAIESECers aiming to form a group for experience sharing and network building with any individual who has had any experience with AIESEC (AIESEC Alumni International, 2012), which means with those that “possess a social identification with others who share their interest
in a particular brand” (Algesheimer et al., 2005). Now it is named “AIESEC Alumni International” (AAI) and has over 1,000,000 alumni worldwide. AAI is a representative alter-brand community because it desires to continue developing the values of AIESEC in a better way and participates in the co-creation of the brand AIESEC as a “prosumer” by creating conferences focusing on social issues (Cova and White, 2010), thus provides AIESEC with a new market offering and results a change in brand meaning. With the development of the society, requirements for youth leaders started to change: exchange and internship experiences seem to be not enough and strong sense of social responsibility is greatly valued. In order to deliver AIESEC values in a better way, the alumni community started to organize alumni conferences to discuss heated social topics and tried to act upon them. The great success of these conferences attracted many alumni to participate and finally drew the attention of AIESEC. AIESEC officially absorbed the idea in 2000s and started to organize large regional theme conferences, such as Global Youth to Business Forum (see Appendix 4 and 5), opened to all students and organizations that are interested in social responsibility and youth leadership development. These conferences have become a new market offering which is a important part of AIESEC’s main activities besides exchange and internship programs, thus expanding AIESEC’s brand meaning from helping young students acquire valuable experiences and develop leadership to leading them to think about and act upon important social issues as “change engines” or “global citizens”. With the change in brand image, a significant increase in social–concern–related projects and activities were derived. For example, AIESEC conducted a survey about...