Purpose – This study aims to present a general overview of the characteristics of virtual communities hosted by apparel retailers. Design/methodology/approach – Content analysis was conducted on 2,521 web sites hosted by apparel retailers. Web sites of apparel retailers were identified from Stores Magazine “top 100 specialty retailers” and “top 100 retailers” listings, and Google search engine directory. Web sites were analyzed in terms of general characteristics of apparel retailers (e.g. apparel product categories, ability to purchase online, presence of brick‐and‐mortar stores). Two coders individually visited each web site and coded the contents. Findings – A total of 13 virtual communities hosted by apparel retailers were found. Apparel retailers selling casual merchandise to the young teen market had the strongest representation. Most of the virtual communities used bulletin or message board tools. About half of the virtual communities had registration requirements and rules or membership policies. Discussion topics of community members varied. Research limitations/implications – The small percentage of apparel retailers hosting virtual communities indicates that more evidence is needed to make it a compelling case for retailers to host virtual communities. Virtual communities may be of value to marketers for consumer research and feedback. Originality/value – This paper examines virtual communities of consumption hosted by companies that sell apparel products.
Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 2006
Keywords: Electronic commerce; Consumer behaviour; Retailing
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