Theophile Dubois Og Uwe Westerhausen

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    Brand loyalty creation within online brand

    communities

    Supervised by Niels Kornum (Department of Marketing)Characters: 234.787

    Submission October 2011

    Thophile DuboisUwe Westerhausen

    Marketing Communications Management

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    Executive summary

    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 consumersbrand 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. Anothervariable, 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 members power to control andinfluence 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 brandcommunity.

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    Acknowledgements

    First and foremost we express our sincerest gratitude to our supervisor, Niels Kornum

    (Associate professor in the marketing department, Copenhagen Business School), who has

    supported us throughout our thesis. His knowledge, encouragement, guidance and support

    from the initial to the final level has been very helpful for this research.

    We also owe our deepest gratitude to Martin Ivanovs, and the Hej team for their collaboration

    and the time they dedicated to help us. This thesis would not have been possible if they had

    not enabled us to gather data within the IKEA FAMILY hej Community.

    Likewise, we would like to acknowledge the collaboration of Susan E. Martin (President

    IKEAFANS, Inc.) and James L. Martin (Vice President IKEAFANS, Inc.). Without their helpand support this project could not have been achieved.

    It is also a pleasure to thank the librarians of the Copenhagen Business School library who

    helped us in our research and in the use of programs such as refworks.

    We acknowledge the help of Stine Gry Madsen for answering our questions.

    Lastly, we offer our regards and blessings to our families who supported us not only during

    the completion of the project, but also all along our studies. A special thanks to Viviane Nahai

    who helped us with language details.

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    Table of contents

    1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 8

    1.1. Scope of the research ....................................................................................................... 9

    1.2. Structure of the master thesis ......................................................................................... 10

    1.3. Delimitations ................................................................................................................. 11

    1.4. Introduction to methodology ......................................................................................... 12

    2. Literature review ................................................................................................................ 13

    2.1. Brands ............................................................................................................................ 13

    2.2. Communities .................................................................................................................. 14

    2.3. Brand communities ........................................................................................................ 142.3.1. Markers of communities .....................................................................................................17

    2.4. Organic versus inorganic brand communities ........................................................................18

    2.5. Online brand communities ............................................................................................. 18

    2.6. Value creation through online brand communities ........................................................ 19

    2.7. Brand equity .................................................................................................................. 19

    2.7.1. Relevance of brand loyalty .................................................................................................20

    2.7.2. Customer-Based Brand Equity ...........................................................................................21

    2.8. Brand community management ..................................................................................... 23

    2.9. Contribution to the literature ......................................................................................... 26

    3.Conceptual Framework ..................................................................................................... 28

    3.1. Community commitment ............................................................................................... 30

    3.2. Community identification .............................................................................................. 32

    3.3. Link between community identification and community commitment ......................... 33

    3.4. Community satisfaction ................................................................................................. 33

    3.5. Link between community satisfaction and community commitment ............................ 34

    3.6. Degree of influence........................................................................................................ 34

    3.7. Link between degree of influence and community commitment .................................. 35

    3.8. Participation ................................................................................................................... 35

    3.8.1. Participation as a moderator ...............................................................................................37

    3.8.2. Link between community identification and community commitment ...............................37

    3.8.3. Link between community satisfaction and community commitment ..................................383.8.4. Link between degree of influence and community commitment ........................................39

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    3.9. Psychological Sense of Brand Community (PSBC) ...................................................... 40

    3.10. Links between PSBC and other latent variables .......................................................... 40

    3.11. Brand loyalty: behavioural and attitudinal construct ................................................... 41

    3.12. Brand attachment ......................................................................................................... 42

    3.13. Link between community commitment and brand attachment.................................... 42

    3.14. Link between brand attachment and brand loyalty ...................................................... 43

    3.15. Brand loyalty ............................................................................................................... 44

    3.15.1. Repurchase intention ........................................................................................................44

    3.15.2. Word of mouth (WOM)....................................................................................................45

    3.16.