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Brand Communication Success In Online Consumption Communities: An Experimental Analysis Of The Effects Of Communication Style And Brand Pictorial Representation

Sascha Steinmann, Gunnar Mau, Hanna Schramm-Klein
Published 2015 · Psychology

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Online communities are often focused on consumption-related consumer interests and offer marketers the opportunity to actively engage and cooperate with consumers, foster customer relationships, and easily spread information about new products and services. In spite of this enormous potential, it is surprising that to date, little is known about how such communities can be designed to positively influence consumers’ evaluation of a brand and further marketing-related outcome variables. Previous studies have shown that the success of online communities might depend on the communication style that is used to interact with the members as well as on the pictorial representation of the brand within an online community. To gain insights into these and further relationships, the authors conducted an online experiment in an online brand community on a social networking site and analyzed the effects of the communication style and the pictorial representation of the brand on the members’ attitudes toward the brand, their satisfaction with the community, brand recommendation, and brand purchase. The study was conducted over three months, and the participants were surveyed three times during this period. Hence, the present study further analyzed whether the proposed effects will change over time due to the member's participation in the community. The results show that communication style and brand pictorial representation in an online consumption community influence members’ evaluation of the brand as well as of the community and brand purchase.
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