Brand Community and Co-creation: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

By: Dr. Adilla Anggraeni, MBA.

The term co-creation was first derived from the consumer culture theory (CCT). This theory first illuminates the symbolic, embodied, and experiential aspects of acquisition behaviors (Arnould and Thompson (2005).

Vargo and Lusch (2004) refined the concept of service by ending the dual notions of goods dominant logic and service dominant logic. They view the service dominance as a whole business process which emphasises the intangible value to create core competencies, skills and knowledge, and the co-creation of value.

This new perspective shifted the notion of value to consumers and introduce the understanding that instead of focusing on the purchasing power as the first priority where customers’ needs and wants to constitute the core focus of the marketing concept (Kotler 2003), the companies should understand how consumers value their set of life projects or how they enact their life narratives (Arnould and Price 2000).

A consumer brand community is a consumer-created brand community where consumers initiate the formation of the community based on their passion for a brand; accordingly they create value through face-to-face interactions (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001)

Indonesia has seen the development of communities and brand communities as a way to support a company’s business. An example of this is called the Naked Wolves community, a brand community dedicated to Bajaj fans living in Bandung, West Java. A female-dominated community which is also famous is Female Daily, whose members are called FD-ers. This community is not dedicated to a particular brand, but rather serves the function of a ‘watering hole’ or an online gathering place of Indonesian females to talk about many different brands and products.

Brand community can serve many functions to a company or a brand. As a symbol of value and enabler of value co-creation, brand community acts as a platform for its members to act upon a shared ritual and consciousness of kind; which is the feeling of belongingness and similarities. Within the community, the individuals share intentions, interactions, and activities at the specific place (Kaufman, 1959) and they engage the consumption within their communities through the celebration, ritual, or tradition (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001). Brand communities can be relatively stable when it comes to its groupings, the bond can be relatively and equipped with certain degrees of commitment of the members (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001). This indicates the notion that it is inseparable that for a brand to be strong, it has to consider utilizing brand community that it may have.

Managing brand community is not the same as managing the brand itself. Core to the community approach is the ‘triadic’ brand–consumer relationship and the social brand perspective. The triadic relationship implies consumers interact, not only with the brand, but also with each other. The marketer may not have very much influence in the brand–consumer exchange, making management of the brand difficult.

Dr. Adilla Anggraeni, MBA. is currently the Deputy Head of Business Management and Marketing and Faculty Member in Business Management and Marketing Program at Binus Business School International Undergraduate Program. Further about her profile can be found here.

Dr. Adilla Anggraeni, MBA.