Brand loyalty creation within online brand communities

Théophile Dubois & Uwe Westerhausen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The purpose of the research is to understand how brand loyalty is created within online brand communities. Additionally, a comparison of the brand loyalty creation process between company-initiated and consumer-initiated online brand community is undertaken. Motivated by the lack of research regarding online brand communities and the common difficulties for companies to create a relationship with their consumers, this research considers online brand communities as a tool for companies to leverage consumers‘ brand loyalty. Based on relevant previous literature, a conceptual framework is developed in order to understand the process of brand loyalty creation. Primary data is gathered through a self-administered online questionnaire in two online brand communities, one being a company-initiated online brand community (IKEA FAMILY hej Community) and the other being a consumer-initiated online brand community (IKEAFANS). The analysis shows that online brand communities are able to build brand loyalty. The process of brand loyalty creation involves several variables amongst which are brand attachment and community commitment. Community members‘ commitment to the community results in additional attachment to the brand around which the community is centered and ultimately leads to repurchase intention and positive word of mouth. Another variable, identification with the community, is found to be a precursor of community commitment and further has an indirect effect on brand attachment through psychological sense of brand community. A comparison of the two IKEA online communities reveals a significant influence of members‘ perceived degree of influence on their community commitment within the company-initiated online brand community, whereas such an effect is not detected for the consumer-initiated online brand community. Hence, this research suggests the importance of community member‘s power to control and influence the community in the creation of brand loyalty within company initiated brand communities. Moreover, relational bonds with other brand users (psychological sense of brand community, PSBC) in general are found to have a stronger influence on community members‘ attachment to the brand in the consumer-initiated than in the company-initiated online brand community. On the contrary, community members‘ commitment to the community in the company-initiated online brand community is more strongly related to brand attachment than for the consumer-initiated online brand community.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2011
Number of pages130