In my previous post, I talked about the so-called Web 2.0 revolution which has led to new trends and a changing young generation. An interesting question to ask is: How are marketers dealing with this changing generation and emerging trends? In this post I will answer that question and introduce you to the rise of branded online communities.
The kind of trends I talked about in my previous post have affected and will continue to affect how organizations will design, sell, market and communicate their brands, products and services toward its consumers. In today’s highly competitive and dynamic global economy, companies need to continuously seek for ways to adopt and innovate if they want to prosper and survive. They need to learn faster than ever (at least faster than their competitors) how the needs of this generation are changing. Marketing authors Sean Moffitt and Alex Marshall claim that there are dramatic shifts occurring in how business creates value through brands. “The currency at play is no longer passive consumption and mass communication but customer participation and genuine brand engagement” (8). More and more businesses use Web 2.0 services as platforms where they can reach their target audiences and connect with consumers on a much more intimate level. Web 2.0 enabled companies to harness and scale the concept of online communities. For consumers, it has become part of the consumer experience. Large consumer brands like Starbucks, LEGO and Dell are already enjoying “the benefits of strong consumer engagement as a result of their early experiments with community building” (Moffitt and Marshall 8).
The community that arises from the consistent conversation and interaction between consumers and companies is what we call a brand community. The rise of branded online communities offers a great opportunity for companies to create significant brand and business value through powerful member participation. Reaching your target through the use of an online community has become a significant source of competitive advantage. Although brand communities can emerge around “any brand, new or mature, they are more likely to succeed around mature brands that have built a strong image over time” (Porter et al. 17).
So how can brands create value through online communities? Find out in my next post!
Until next time,
Photography: Rosaura Ochoa