During the last fifteen years, there are many popular subjects: relationship marketing and brand building,etc.These hot subjects encourage interaction and speed up the incubation of new sources of disciplinary growth: Brand Relationship(the relationship between consumer and brand).In Brand Relationship theory sysytem,more scholars focus on the relationship between consumer and brand, but Muniz and O’Guinn(2001) did more research on the relationship among consumers, and put forward a new brand concept - Brand Community.
This concept comes from “consumption community”,which was first proposed by historian Daniel Boorstin(1974), ‘in the modern era of high mobility, people look not only to communality of consumption behavior but also to neighborhood as a basis for feelings of community.’ The same as consumption community, brand community is also initiative and drive of individuals’ co –operating at the beginning, after that, enterprise start to take advantage of the power of brand community to build brand loyalty and brand equity, therefore, brand community is becoming a new weapon of marketing.
In this essay, I make literature review surveys on scholarly articles, books relevant to brand community, providing a description, summary and critical evaluation of brand community. Firstly, discuss the origin and definition of brand community. Secondly, summary the research status and the dynamic natures of brand community which are different from consumption community, briefly introduce three main features of brand community. Thirdly, illustrate evolution of brand community model. Fourthly, case study, use case of Starbucks to explain the implications of brand community. Finally, conclusion and the prospect of research.
1 Demarcation of Brand community
1.1 Origin of Brand community
During the last few years, there is a trend that academic research on consumption activities moved away from considerations of individual to a focus on communal. The word ‘community’ was used frequently. ‘consumption community’ (Boorstin, 1973). ‘Subcultures of consumption’ (schouten and McAlexander, 1995). ‘Band community’ (Muniz and O’Guinn, 2001; McAlexander et al., 2002).These communities are referred to as ‘social collectives’ (Greenwood, 1994). ‘Life-mode communities’ (Firat and Dholakia, 1998) and‘neo-tribes’ (Cova, 1997).Brands provide the linking value to some individuals who wants to become member of these communities. These communities seize the idea that people have relations with other people and such relationships are constructed around a fulcrum acted by brands. Harley Owners group(HOG)is a good example of the brand providing such linking value(Fournier et al.,2001).There are more and more descriptive studies detailing the features of such communities: Star Wars fans (Brown et al.,2003); Sun’s Java Center community (Williams and Cothrel,2000) and Nutella(Cova and Pace, 2005).
In a word, communities are expected to provide benefits for the organisation: they affect brand equity and create a stable base of loyal, enthusiastic consumers (Muñiz and O’Guinn, 2001; McAlexander et al., 2001). Actually, it is not easy for a brand to establish a community.
Brand-centred communities may typify themselves to open up a utopian place in the contemporary world.Kozinets (2001) noted that ‘impossibility and dreamness together with deep motivational power and desire’ While utopianism enables customers to engage with reality rather than merely escape into fantasy (Geoghegan, 1987).Which means transform and subvert are the two abilities of utopian (Maclaran and Brown, 2001).Members and the relations among them compose a community. McAlexander and Koeing (2002) identify communities on the basis of identification among community members(a neighborhood, a leisure pursuit, an occupation and devotion to a brand).Brand community is a new type of community, different from traditional community, can form...