What is a brand community and what characteristics its members share?
A brand community is a non-geographically community that is based on a set of social relations among the admirers of a brand (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001).
- Consciousness of kind, which means that members have a special bond and connection between one another. This relation is more than the shared attitudes and similarities.
- Rituals and traditions, with which they perpetuate the community’s shared history, culture, values and consciousness.
- Moral responsibility, which is the sense of duty and obligation to the community and to its members.
Porsche Community of America (PCA)
PCA was founded in 1955 by Bill Sholar in Washington DC. Bill was an admirer of well designed automobiles and thus purchased his own Porsche. He was convinced that it will be beneficial to create a community where members could gather and discuss about positive and negative aspects of their cars and the brand. Currently, there are 107.000 members and 140 charters in US and Canada. As a consequence, PCA to be the largest single marque club in the world.
Member can be anyone that owns a Porsche, members of their family (co-owners) and lessees. Passion and success are necessary elements, which are strongly related with the brand. Members are obliged to pay fee membership.
The community offers plethora of activities and events such as:
- Driving Experience
- Concours d’ Elegance
- Club Racing
- Porsche Parade
- Treffen Tour
PCA introduced in 1955 its own monthly award-winning magazine called “Porsche Panorama”, with aim to keep all members informed about the Porsche world.
Last but not least, Porsche Community of America cares deeply not only about the cars, but also about the value and culture of its members.
LADY GAGA Fan Club LittleMonsters
LittleMonsters is the community that Lady Gaga launched in 2012 for her super engaged and loyal fans. The intention was to be the personal networking site of the pop artist. It is a virtual community and it was designed from her marketing team around her. The design of the platform is a mix of Pinterest, Reddit and Facebook.
It is a community full of acceptance, created for sharing creativity and passion for Lady Gaga and Art in general. Users can create their own profiles, can post and share photos, communicate through chat rooms, follow their idol’s actions and buy online tickets for her concerts.
What makes LittleMonsters.com special is that:
- Lady Gaga actively participates and interacts with her fans
- She continuously generates content in order to talk about
- She cultivates interaction between the members
The majority of the members are open-minded teenagers and young adults who share a sense of vulnerability. Lady Gaga is standing up for issues that she cares about and for sharing her values. For that reason she represents all those in society who feel marginalized and bullied for being different.
Community members share private communication signals, such as terms and names (“Monsterlove”, “Monsterhugs” etc.) and symbols (“Monster pawn”).
The shared knowledge and use of the symbols helps creating a collective experience. The community has a unique environment where everyone is treated with respect and tolerance. Members are encouraged to be brave, to express their selves and every member feels safe and accepted.
Why do people participate in communities?
People participate in communities because they share the same passion and interests for the brand. All the information contained in the community is especially tailored for its members’ needs. Also, it is a way to enhance their social relationships and their social status. Community members can feel that they belong somewhere special since through this they feel unique and they enjoy themselves.
What are the drawbacks of being a community member?
Still though, there are some potential drawbacks when someone is part of a community. Sometimes there maybe exist rivalry due to higher levels of hierarchy and diffusion among the community members and even they can be hostile towards people out of their group (mostly from fanatic members that are obsessed with the brand).
Furthermore, via the community, there can be manipulation from the people in charge. In online communities, such as the Lady Gaga one, too much involvement may lead them to feel that they have lost face-to-face interaction.
PCA vs. LittleMonsters.com
Thank you very much!! Hope you will enjoy it along with this Lady gaga song made by her fans!!
- Muniz, Albert M. and Thomas C. O’Guinn (2001), “Brand Community”, Journal of Consumer Research, 27 (March), 412-433
- Trusov, Michael, Randolph E. Bucklin, and Koen Pauwels (2009), “Effects of Word of Mouth versus Traditional Marketing: Findings from an Internet Social Networking Site”, Journal of Marketing, 73 (September), 90-102
- Susan Fournier and Lara Lee (2009), “Getting Brand Communities Right”, Harvard Business Review