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THE ROLE OF ONLINE BRAND COMMUNITY IN NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT: CASE STUDIES ON DIGITAL PRODUCT MANUFACTURERS IN KOREA

JOONG HYUN KIM, ZONG-TAE BAE, SHIN HYUNG KANG

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The focus of this study is on how online brand communities are utilised throughout the new product development (NPD) process by promoting communications between firms and communities. We investigate leading MP3 player manufacturers and mobile phone handset manufacturers in Korea. The results of our case studies show that the roles of online brand communities vary along the NPD stages — from trendsetters (lead users) to innovation facilitators (users as innovators), and information disseminators (early adopters). These communities can help firms gain insight into customer needs, desirable characteristics of new products and trends for future development. Furthermore, various inputs from online brand communities can stimulate firms' internal communication among several departments involved in the NPD. Finally, this study suggests the extended research model and generates hypotheses on the roles and impacts of online brand communities.