Purpose – To analyse the power that a virtual brand community exerts over a brand of a mass‐marketed convenience product. To draw implications about the strategy that a company can employ facing this power shift. To track emerging trends in virtual brand communities applied to convenience product (as opposed to niche or luxury goods). Design/methodology/approach – Case study of the web community “my Nutella The Community” promoted by the firm Ferrero in Italy. The study applied multiple methods and was conducted through interviews with key informants, netnography and document analysis. Findings – The virtual community that gathers around a convenience product brand shows a new form of sociality and customer empowerment: it is not based on interaction between peers, but more on personal self‐exhibition in front of other consumers through the marks and rituals linked to the brand. The company should play the role of non‐intrusive enabler of these personal expressions, reducing its control over the brand's meanings. Originality/value – The literature on brand community has traditionally focused on communities born around niche or luxury brand (Harley Davidson, Mercedes, Saab). The paper deals with a mass marketed convenience product like Nutella (the worldwide famous hazelnut spread), showing noteworthy differences that would advance current knowledge on brand communities and customer empowerment.
European Journal of Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 1, 2006
Keywords: Brand management; Postmodernism; Consumption; Virtual organizations; Internet; Empowerment
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