All posts by jessicatang405149

Customer participation in virtual brand communities: The self-construal perspective


Nowadays, as one of the marketing activities, many firms have a virtual community where they can informally communicate with customers and where customers can share ideas with each other. However, it is found that most of the participants on such platforms are lurkers instead of actively participating and contributing. To tackle this challenge, firms implemented different strategies with the hope of encouraging their customers to participate. They aim to provide a balanced platform where both homogeneity and heterogeneity view exist. To elaborate, firms aim to provide a platform where customers are able to satisfy their needs of social interactions and belongingness. At the same time, firms wish to provide their customers a platform where they can maintain their personal independent identities by being able to express and showcase their difference in background, opinions, commitments, and expertise.

Because such a virtual platform today includes different kind of individuals, either homogeneous or heterogeneous, research needs to be conducted about how individuals with a different kind of orientation might affect one another’s participation in such platform. The article examines how customer participation is influenced by self-construal with community rewards and public self-consciousness. Self-construal refers to the extent which individuals consider themselves as independent entities or interdependent entities. Community rewards refer to an external incentive that firms can offer to participants. Public self-consciousness, on the other hand, refers to the participants’ awareness of their individual’s unique role in the community from the public perspective, thus more an external incentive.

The first research question that the authors intend to answer is: “How does self-construal impact VBC participation?”. The second question is, “How do community rewards and public self-consciousness interact with self-construal to align heterogeneous actors with shared norms?”

The authors collected data through an online survey in two Chinese smartphones VBCs. VBC, as in Virtual Brand Ccommunity, is defined as an online platform where firms share product information, provide service support and inform customers. In both platforms, consumers are provided with updates of current and future products and they are able to interact with each other.

The findings of the articles are as follow:

  1. Independent construal is positively influencing the intention to participate but interdependent construal not. This indicates that participants on VBC platforms are more discovering and exhibiting themselves, rather than longing for a relationship with other community members.
  2. Both community reward and public self-consciousness have a negative impact on the relationship between independent construal and the intention to participate. This is due to the fact that independent construal is, as the definition refers to, oriented toward freedom, thus not constraint by rules. Having to follow rules in order to gain community reward, therefore, has a negative impact on customers’ intention to participate. Furthermore, independent construal also refers to leaning toward actualizing the private self. This is, consequently, not in coherence with the concept of public self-consciousness.
  3. On the other hand, Public self-consciousness has a positive effect on interdependent construal with the intention to participate.


  • The survey is conducted on two Chinese smartphone virtual community platforms. Other kinds of platforms might imply different findings because the participants in different kind of platforms have different characteristics. Also, even though the authors in total sent out 1000 invitation to complete the surveys and provided incentives to participants, they only gathered 167 valid responses in the end. In addition, most of the participants are males and young people. Therefore, the generalizability of the study is questionable. Studies in the context of different platforms, such as travel online community or food online community, need to be conducted to see whether the findings remain the same. Additionally, the results are possibly not representative of female participants and older generations.
  • Moreover, the authors offered prepaid mobile card as an incentive to complete the survey. This is a context-related incentive. However, the result is not ideal. Perhaps participants feel like they do not need a second mobile card. Therefore, future research can consider offering direct monetary incentives.
  • The authors just randomly selected participants from the two platforms and did not examine the effect of the degree of active participation of these participants. Different results might present when active participants are separated from inactive participants.


Wang, Y., Ma, S.S. and Li, D., 2015. Customer participation in virtual brand communities: The self-construal perspective. Information & Management, 52(5), pp.577-587.


Studio – Have fun running on a treadmill

Running on a treadmill in your living room or at the gym can be rather boring. Also, there is no one there to motivates and monitors you. Many people, therefore, hire a professional coach to help them go through some training sessions. However, not everyone can afford a 40 euro/hour sessions guided by professional coaches. Another option would be attending group classes, which is much cheaper than having a personal coach; however, the timing of these group classes don’t always fit your schedule. These will eventually become excuses for us to skip a fitness session. Is there a solution?


CEO and founder Jason Baptiste had a goal to lose 50 extra pounds after he finished school and decided to run 5km every day on the treadmill. However, after hundred days of running on a treadmill, he found it extremely boring and discouraging. This gives him the idea to develop a platform which will improve the whole treadmill experience. Meet Studio, a treadmill app on your smartphones or smartwatches that will bring motivation convenience and excitement to each of your training session. After subscribing to their services, users gained access to classes coached by professional coaches that motivate and guides users through their training session. Every class is accompanied by playlists that users can choose from. In addition, classes are offered in different difficulties and in different lengths; users can choose the corresponding classes according to their own needs. The classes can be taken anytime and anywhere.

Engaging the users

It is not only about running on the treadmill, Studio collects distance, speed and biometric data from every user that took the classes and these will be imported into the Real-time Leaderboard. Every user is rewarded with the in-app virtual currency Fitcoin after each session depending on how long and how far he/she has run. Fitcoin will defined users position on the leaderboard. Furthermore, Studio elevates its gamification experience to another level by making all users start with the basic level – Basic bear. Earning more Fitcoin, by running more, will allow users to rank up. To further motivates users during their training session, the real-time heartbeat of the users will be shown on the leaderboard and so as their real-time Fitcoin balance. In addition, users can choose to click on the cheer button during the session to motivates other users that are also doing the same exercise at the same time. In the future, Studio is planning to enable users to redeem Fitcoin for real-world prizes. Even though Studio targets users that would prefer flexible classes as opposed to physical group classes, the app still managed to provide users the same motivation they would get in a group-based training session with the help of its real-time leaderboard.

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The business

Studio currently operates under a subscription-based model, which requires users to either pay $15 per month or a $100 upfront payment a year for unlimited access. The success of such Netflix and Spotify alike subscription model is dependent on the number of subscribers. To ensure that there is a sufficient and increasing amount of subscribers, Studio has to make sure that it keeps satisfying its existing users and at the same time keeps attracting new users. Like many other subscription-based business models, Studio offers new users with the opportunity to try out the services for free for a period of two weeks. Also, users can cancel their subscription at any time (for monthly subscribers). Every day, new trainings will be available for users to choose from. Besides, Studio has purchased full music licenses and therefore is able to offer a wide range of music for users to choose from. Studio is targeting both busy working professional and parents who often do not have time to visit the gym and own a treadmill at home. As for the professional coaches, Studio incentivized them to work for the platform by paying a commission of every listed class depending on the popularity of the class. Coaches are not limited to the number of participants in such platform compared to a physical classroom, there can be up to 20000 people taking their classes which is nearly impossible in a normal group training session.

Furthermore, it has been announced that Studio will partner up with treadmill maker Life Fitness to incorporate the Studio’s classes on Life Fitness treadmills in gyms. This will enable Studio to connect to an even larger audience as Life fitness is one of the largest and top manufacturers of fitness equipment. At the same time, having Studio integrated into the Life fitness treadmill will help Life fitness step into the digital fitness business.