7 Powerful benefits of brand communities that increase profit featured image

Brand management is moving towards a more open and collaborative approach that embraces brand communities. The benefits of brand communities are many and versatile. Whether through increased consumer satisfaction and fulfillment or direct brand affects, all help in improving the profitability of the organization.

Goodbye, ivory towers. Hello, brand communities!

If you follow the marketing discussion, you may have noticed a significant shift in thinking. In the past years, the traditional ideologies of inside-out brand management have been moving aside and clearing the way for community-based branding.

“Community” is now the word on everyone’s lips as we rage on about the benefits of brand communities; and they are many, both directly for consumers and organizations.

In this article, I will list 7 key benefits of brand communities and explain, how one way or another, they can improve your bottom line and help you build a strong brand appropriate for the 21st century in the process.

1. Brand communities open up a dialogue with customers

If nothing else, brand communities allow you to get to know your customers and how to serve them better. Whether that happens through a direct dialogue or by observing consumer comments, and feedback with other community members doesn’t matter.

Consumers also want to get to know the people behind their favorite brands. Brand communities are a great platform to enable that. Besides increasing consumer satisfaction, showing your customers who you are directly impacts purchase behaviour. A recent study found that revealing the people behind a brand creates a strong social connection (rather than a simple transactional connection) and increases consumers’ brand preference and willingness to buy significantly.1Fuchs, C., Kaiser, U., Schreier, M., & van Osselaer, S. (2021). The value of making producers personal. Journal Of Retailing. doi: 10.1016/j.jretai.2021.10.004

2. They allow consumers to connect with like-minded people

People have a fundamental need for belonging and are therefore often more interested in the social network they gain from a brand community rather than the affiliation with the brand itself. Since members in brand communities share consciousness, rules, traditions and moral responsibility, communities are an excellent platform to socialize and form connections.

DeineTierwelt runs a community (in German) that encompasses the entire lifestyle of caring for pets. People give each other advice, share pictures of their pets, help and connect with one another.

3. Brand communities help you retain customers

Multiple studies have shown that participating in a brand community increases brand loyalty. For example, as people learn more about brands they start noticing similarities between how they view themselves the values and ideals of the brands. As consumers perceive this harmony they engage more and consequently become more loyal.2Islam, J., Rahman, Z., & Hollebeek, L. (2018). Consumer engagement in online brand communities: a solicitation of congruity theory. Internet Research, 28(1), 23-45. doi: 10.1108/intr-09-2016-0279

Often, as people invest their time and resources into a brand community, they start to feel a sense of ownership over the brand. After all, they are valuable co-creators of the brand meaning.

I have been made to feel a real part of the community and have been given the opportunity not only to share my opinions but my views in a personal blog. All worthwhile.

Community member demonstrating a sense of ownership (Ind, Iglesias & Schultz, 20133Ind, N., Iglesias, O., & Schultz, M. (2013). Building Brands Together: Emergence and Outcomes of Co-Creation. California Management Review, 55(3), 5-26. doi: 10.1525/cmr.2013.55.3.5).

Such statements represent a growing brand relationship quality which translate into brand related purchase behavior and brand loyalty. 4Algesheimer, R., Dholakia, U., & Herrmann, A. (2005). The Social Influence of Brand Community: Evidence from European Car Clubs. Journal Of Marketing, 69(3), 19-34. doi: 10.1509/jmkg.69.3.19.66363

4. They can alter brand perceptions in the mass market

When brands have vibrant communities around themselves, consumers often view them differently. Seeing active communities can help paint a perception of the brand as more open, accessible, transparent, communal and co-creative.

For example, consumers in the mass market view brands that empower their customers (to co-create products and brand meanings etc.) as more customer-oriented and they hold more favorable attitudes towards those brands that do empower their customers versus those that do not.5Fuchs, C., & Schreier, M. (2010). Customer Empowerment in New Product Development*. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 28(1), 17-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2010.00778.x In a similar manner, brands that engage in co-creation with its customers and communities are seen as more sincere by people not participating in the co-creation.6van Dijk, J., Antonides, G., & Schillewaert, N. (2014). Effects of co-creation claim on consumer brand perceptions and behavioural intentions. International Journal Of Consumer Studies, 38(1), 110-118. doi: 10.1111/ijcs.12071

5. Community members are brand advocates

People in brand communities often turn into valuable brand advocates. Seeing as word-of-mouth is one of the most persuasive channels available to brands, the importance of this point cannot be stressed enough.

When people identify with your brand, the community, and feel a psychological sense of community their brand commitment increases, which in turn leads to brand preference, intention to attend brand events, word-of-mouth promotion and interest in the brand’s history and heritage.7Carlson, B., Suter, T., & Brown, T. (2008). Social versus psychological brand community: The role of psychological sense of brand community. Journal Of Business Research, 61(4), 284-291. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2007.06.022 How passionately and which methods people choose in advocating your brand, however, also rests on a lot of other factors.

6. Brand communities facilitate new product development

Your customers often have the best ideas on how to improve your product offerings and services. They also typically have a different perspective on things and are likely to come up with more radical suggestions. A brand community gives them a platform to raise product issues and suggestions for new features. This is an incredibly valuable source of data, feedback and other insights for you as a brand owner.

The LEGO Brand Community “LEGO Ideas” engages its members to participate in contest and come up with new product ideas. Members can also browse other ideas for inspiration and give them their support through a voting system in which the most popular ideas are developed and eventually marketed.

7. They may lower marketing expenses

Brand communities take a lot of work, but they can also decrease costs in many aspects of business. For example, they may drastically decrease customer support expenses as community members help each other out with various issues. They may also give you access to data more cheaply and willingly than in a formal research context.

Brand communities also allow you to cheaply communicate with your biggest fans. But be careful not to overdo it. Be genuine in your community communication and remember that the brand community is there for its members’ benefit first.

Start capitalizing on the benefits of brand communities

As you can see, the benefits of brand communities are numerous and vary greatly. Virtually any brand can benefit from embracing communities and employing an open branding management style. However, pulling it off is harder than it may seem. Becoming more co-creative requires backing from the entire company including highly trained employees and willingness to relinquish control over certain brand elements.

It may be a hard thing to do if you are used to inside-out marketing, but it’s necessary. As Robert Jones, a former strategist at Wolff Olins for 27 years, puts it: people are less inclined to be persuaded by brands and more interested in using them as platforms to do things. Marketers need to enable that.


References

  • 1
    Fuchs, C., Kaiser, U., Schreier, M., & van Osselaer, S. (2021). The value of making producers personal. Journal Of Retailing. doi: 10.1016/j.jretai.2021.10.004
  • 2
    Islam, J., Rahman, Z., & Hollebeek, L. (2018). Consumer engagement in online brand communities: a solicitation of congruity theory. Internet Research, 28(1), 23-45. doi: 10.1108/intr-09-2016-0279
  • 3
    Ind, N., Iglesias, O., & Schultz, M. (2013). Building Brands Together: Emergence and Outcomes of Co-Creation. California Management Review, 55(3), 5-26. doi: 10.1525/cmr.2013.55.3.5
  • 4
    Algesheimer, R., Dholakia, U., & Herrmann, A. (2005). The Social Influence of Brand Community: Evidence from European Car Clubs. Journal Of Marketing, 69(3), 19-34. doi: 10.1509/jmkg.69.3.19.66363
  • 5
    Fuchs, C., & Schreier, M. (2010). Customer Empowerment in New Product Development*. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 28(1), 17-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2010.00778.x
  • 6
    van Dijk, J., Antonides, G., & Schillewaert, N. (2014). Effects of co-creation claim on consumer brand perceptions and behavioural intentions. International Journal Of Consumer Studies, 38(1), 110-118. doi: 10.1111/ijcs.12071
  • 7
    Carlson, B., Suter, T., & Brown, T. (2008). Social versus psychological brand community: The role of psychological sense of brand community. Journal Of Business Research, 61(4), 284-291. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2007.06.022

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