How to Brand COMUNDU within the Backpacking Culture: An Investigation of the Smartphone’s Impact on Backpackers’ Social Interactions

Dina Kirstine Nielsen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The increasing digitalisation within the backpacking industry is revolutionising many aspects of backpacking. The present study seeks to investigate how Comundu, a digital app that enhances communication among the hostel and the backpackers, becomes an integrated part of the backpacking culture through branding. It is still an uncovered area of backpacker literature how the increasing digitalisation, especially use of smartphones, impact the social interactions of the backpacking culture. Through qualitative interviews with seven experienced backpackers of varying degree, the significance of the backpacking culture for every aspect of the travel became evident. Especially the sociability of backpacking showed to be an important element. In addition, the interview findings suggest that the digitalisation has a negative impact on the social aspects of backpacking as well as the concept of freedom in relation to the flexible travel itinerary. Thus, the study proposes that there are paradoxes in the backpacking community, where the largest currently is the emerging digitalisation that threats to disrupt the sociability of the backpacking culture. The dualism of the backpackers’ despise of commercialism and corporate companies is also an issue for companies like Comundu who strives to infiltrate the community. Because of the culture’s significance, the cultural brand approach (Holt, 2004) is chosen to embrace the cultural aspect of the backpackers instead of targeting the individual backpacker. The creation of identity value in aspiring to become a brand icon within the culture is analysed in relation to establish a strong myth for Comundu through storytelling. The recommendations for Comundu emphasise the need to make a holistic storytelling in both content and touchpoints to strengthen its myth. Furthermore, Comundu needs to ensure that their app is inspiring and interesting, to encourage WOM among the backpackers. Finally, the paradoxes of the culture can be addressed through respectively expressing the bridge-building between the online and offline community explicitly and prove Comundu’s fidelity to the backpacking community and industry as a whole.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages121