Purpose – Brand communities may manifest the ultimate degree of connectedness between a consumer and a brand. Research typically approaches such communities as collections of highly homogenous members but generally fails to recognize them as individual persons with their own idiosyncratic backgrounds and reasons to join the community. This article aims to explore whether a community population can be meaningfully segmented on the basis of different motivations to join. Design/methodology/approach – Information from two communities is collected, following the customer‐centric model of brand community of McAlexander et al. . The relationship variables in this model are used as a segmentation basis in cluster analysis to identify various segments. Different kind of motivations can be identified with the relationship variables of the McAlexander et al. model. Findings – Multiple segments based on different consumption motivations exist. Two investigated communities show significant overlap in the identified segments. Furthermore, the findings suggest that segments evolve in relation to the lifecycle stage of the community. Practical implications – Segmentation is important for fine‐tuning marketing efforts, particularly for brand communities. Members of communities share dedication to the brand but are heterogeneous in many respects. Originality/value – Treating a brand community as a marketing tool requires an understanding of the composition of its population. This study explores how to achieve this understanding and links community characteristics to theoretical concepts surrounding consumer behaviour.
European Journal of Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 30, 2008
Keywords: Brands; Brand management; Community behaviour; Market segmentation; Cluster analysis; Motivation (psychology)
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