Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

Brand Evangelism among Online Brand Community Members

Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

Brand Evangelism among Online Brand Community Members

Article excerpt

Introduction

Social media had changed todays' social communication landscape at large. It is said that today, we live in 'referral powered' community. Consumers' attitude and behavior towards certain brand c an easily be changed by just a referral from someone they trust and respect. It is hold true in today's digital edge, whereby almost every one of us belongs to specific brand communities. For instance, Kozinet (1999) forecasted that over 40 million people will belong to one or more online communities in the next millennium. More importantly, brand communication through social media or blogs is uncontrolled communication. Cruz and Mendelsohn (2010) stressed that brand performance is controlled by customer s and potentials comparatively to the owner of the brand itself. Thus, online brand community will affect marketing activities at large. Empirical evidence has revealed that online brand communities play a crucial role in enhancing organization's brand success such as loyalty, increase market penetration, boost revenue and create positive word of mouth advertising (Hagel & Armstrong, 1997; Kim, Choi, Qualls, & Han, 2008).

According to Cruz and Mendelsohn (2010), members of brand community are more enga ging and more likely to buy and recommend the brand to others as compared to non-members. This is supported by the study of Becerra and Badrinarayanan (2013) that members that demonstrate high brand identification towards their brand community would contributed to brand evangelism (positive referral or oppositional brand referral). However, in reality, word-of-mouth or brand referral could be positive or negative. For instance, in 2014, McDonald Malaysia was terribly affected by the Islamist boycott due to negative allegation from social media that claimed McDonalds Malaysia is supporting Israel (Jain, 2014). Hence, it is importance to understand how customer especially members of online brand community perceived the organization's brand.

With the increasing power of online consumers and higher Internet penetration around the globe (Casalo, Flavian & Guinaliu, 2010b), online brand community contribute to greater communication platform between companies and consumers. Mangold and Faulds (2009) suggested that social media which is a common platform for online brand community is recognized as a new hybrid tool in the integrated marketing communication. As such, it is importance for managers to manage their communication tools effectively which include online brand community's activities and actions. It is because, the information shared within the communities need to be consistent with the organization's communication objectives (Mangold & Flauds, 2009), supporting the brand image and creating lasting brand equity (Muniz & O'Guinn, 2001).

Despite the growing importance of online brand community and/or social media as new tool for integrated marketing communication, little focus had been done to understand contribution of online brand community to overall brand success The mixed results from previous studies suggested the urgency of the study to broaden the study into new context and sample with additional predictors and consequences (Casalo et al., 2010a; Cheung, Lee, & Rabjohn, 2008; Kim et al., 2008). Previous studies attempt to link the relationship between brand identification on brand evangelism (Bacerra & Badrinarayanan, 2013; Doss, 2013), whereby Doss conceptualized brand evangelism as a unidimensional construct. Recent study of Collins, Glabe, Mizerski and Murphy (2015) attempt to identify possible characteristics of brand evangelism. Little study attempt to link the relationship between brand congruity and brand community commitment on brand evangelism in the context of online brand community. Hence, it is important to understand whether brand community commitment would lead to brand evangelism. This study conceptualized brand evangelism into two constructs namely; positive brand referral (providing positive referrals regarding the brand) and oppositional brand referral (the act of dissuade others from consuming competing brands). …

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