This thesis explores and develops the concept of postmodern marketing in theory and in practice. It has been over 20 years since the idea of postmodern marketing was first introduced, and to this day much research and literature has covered the matter. In this thesis however, I have set out to investigate what has not been covered substantially in the literature: Consumer generated branding. As such, attention has mostly been directed towards the challenge of how brands should possess unique value that differentiate them from their competitors, and how some BtC brands must have the ability to communicate unique value for its consumers’ images. What seems to lack attention are the dynamics of consumption where consumers consume brands through different values than what was intended from the brand manager. Of course, this kind of consumer produces brand value distortion has an impact on the commercially established brand value. To shed light on the mechanics behind this kind of consumption, the theory of postmodern consumer behavior and postmodern marketing methods are examined. This is done in order to further develop the theory and describe how the postmodern nature of consumers invites the behavior of brand value re-production through the postmodern consumer characteristics of being amoral, marketing code competent, reflexive, and self-referential. In this way, it is described how the consumer consumes in order to produce the image of him- or herself, which is in line with what has been described as postmodern consumer behavior. But the thesis then further develops the postmodern consumer theories by concluding that this image production is done not necessarily with any regards as to what the brand has been branded as, but always in regards as to what the consumer wants to communicate as his or her intended image. And if this image production demands distortion of brand values, he or she does just exactly this, which then results in what the thesis introduces as brand re-production. These mechanics are then examined by looking closely at the theories of how companies make use of postmodern branding methods. It is found that these methods are even conducive for the consumers’ brand value re-production e.g. through the consumer-involving nature of the methods. In continuation hereof, it is emphasized that companies need to be aware of these dynamics being present, and it is pointed out that companies must consider monitoring of and participation in the consumer culture of the brand in order to react or proact in the most profitable manner available. On the basis of these findings, two brands, Fernet Branca and MacBook, are then brought into a practical case framework. Through 10 qualitative interviews, it is found that both brands have most likely undergone the dynamics described which is the likely reason for why the perceived values of the two brands have changed over time. In addition, it is concluded that the possible means of commercial action for the companies towards this kind of brand value distortion needs to be chosen with care and through means of great consumer culture insight. This is pointed out because the analysis shows that commercial communication towards value distortive consumption can be detrimental to the motivation for consumers involved in exactly this, and, therefore, action in it itself poses a risk of losing these consumers. The thesis is completed by emphasizing that the values of brands has elements of both the company’s and the consumer’s value production, and that the dynamics behind brand re-production has to be considered carefully by companies in their efforts to support profitable brands.
|Educations||MA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||95|