A brand community is nothing but a functional group of buyers and employees whose identification and movements focus on the brand. Brand communities can be formed by any large or small business and come right after brand loyalty and retention.
Brand Communities For example
Customers of brands such as Harley Davidson and Apple are headstrong brand enthusiasts who remain loyal to the firm. These communities created by brands create platforms for consumers to interact and share information and help the marketing team to find out about customer’s likes and dislikes.
Types of Brand Communities
1. Communities formed by Brand Users
Communities that are created organically among the brand users
- Game of Thrones
- Harry Potter
2. Communities formed and sponsored by Companies
These are created by companies to enable like-minded customers to stay in touch with each other.
Example – The Harley Owners Group is a Harley-Davidson sponsored community club for enthusiasts of the brand’s motorcycles.
The HOG is an impeccable example of community-building efforts working to promote consumer products and also a lifestyle at large. The HOG managed to open new streams of revenue through the production of tie-in merchandise offered to club members.
Heading a consumer base of a keen one million buyers, HOG is the largest factory-sponsored riding club in the world. The community members easily spend around 30% more on items like clothing and Harley-Davidson-sponsored events as compared to the rest of the Harley owners.
The Online Push
Brands now have social media presence on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and blogs to better connect with the consumers. Some brands also create their own community online. In these communities, members can give reviews, create lists of recommendations and favourites, suggest products or merely socialize together online.
For example LEGO
LEGO consults kids and prominent adult enthusiasts to gather feedback on new product concepts in the primitive stages of development.
Benefits of Brand Communities
1. Empower Customers
Such communities empower users to support users due to the platform made available by these companies.
2. Platform to Connect
Online brand communities stage the perfect means for users to connect and share information with other members.
3. Advocates of the Brand
Support of the members of a brand community helps the firm in being more effective and efficient in marketing.
4. Loyal Customer base
A powerful brand community creates a more loyal and committed customer base.
5. Higher Spending probabilities
The more connected a member is to the community, the higher are the chances of them spending more.
6. Feedback and Ideas
Brand communities could act as a valuable source of inspiration for improvements or innovations through the consumer’s feedback.
Success Factors for a Brand Community
1. Empower Customers
Existing users help reduce the number of complaints from new users because they will answer their queries. Here, people can look upon old comments put up by the previous users and get the answers to their current problems too.
Example – Apple Support Forums
2. Knowledge Sharing of Super Users
Buyers share their encounters and best practices with other customers creating a more luxurious brand experience for them.
Example – SAP
3. Share Product Experience
When a group of customers use the same product, they create a shared experience.
Example – Nike Run Club produces special tools to enable an athlete to run better, include GPS running tracking, customized audio-guided workout plans, timed custom distance challenges, and non-stop motivation from friends and fellow users.
4. Product innovation
Customers provide feedback on existing products and submit difficulties encountered which the company can make use of to generate new ideas to better serve the buyers.
Example – Lego Ideas, an initiative by the toymaker where users can support, submit and discover ideas for new LEGO sets.
Examples – LUGNET ( Lego Users Group Network)
Lugnet, one of the largest unofficial online Lego fan-based communities, comprises adult men, who engage in building intricate Lego projects. Where they share knowledge and photographs of their creations.
This focused niche group of followers give the Lugnet community a valuable source of information that the Lego company could use in making efficient products. As one Lego spokesman said: “Lugnet offers incredibly valuable insights” which the company consumes to deliver better brand products, aid in marketing, and much more.”
Examples Lego Ideas
Run by Chaordix and The Lego Group, Lego Ideas is a website that enables its users to submit ideas for Lego products that can be turned into potential sets available commercially, where the original designer receives 1% of the royalties.
This age-friendly platform lets the users check out proposals, vote for their favourites, leave feedback, and submit their own ideas. Most popular ideas come to life and are commercially made available.
Examples Sephora – Beauty Talk
BeautyTalk was launched as a response to several reviews left on Sephora.com. The platform performed exceptionally well in making the customers feel connected. This well-organized forum has huge followership where users ask questions, share creative insights, and have their beauty perplexities solved by other enthusiasts.
Users upload pictures of themselves wearing Sephora products. These pictures then have a link that redirects the viewer to the product page listing all the items used. Talk about selling without selling! These enthusiastic customers instantly become brand ambassadors, inspiring others to use the products.
Examples Xbox Ambassadors
A classic example of an advanced brand community, Xbox has a followership of customers that are much more than average enthusiasts.
Not anyone can be an Xbox Ambassador, the individuals need to have a certain minimum game score along with an active Xbox Live Gold Membership. These ambassadors extend a huge support network for both gamers and the brand. They offer support on the hosting Twitch shows, Official Xbox Forums, in creating YouTube videos, and providing feedback.
Ambassadors in return get rewarded with games, brand merchandise and other perks that specifically appeal to hardcore gamers.
Examples My Starbucks Idea (Starbucks)
My Starbucks Idea was launched in March 2008 and retired in May 2017. It had a following of more than 150,000 members. The suggestions given to the My Starbucks Idea community have led to nearly 300 innovations to date. Suggestions like introducing digital tipping, peach green-tea lemonade, to the very necessary ability to enjoy free Wi-Fi have been implemented.
Alex Wheeler, VP of global digital marketing for Starbucks, said that “our passionate customers and partners have been sharing their ideas with us on My Starbucks Idea, and we have listened and acted upon many amazing innovations that we have received from this online community.”At the 5 year mark, Starbucks even produced a nice infographic celebrating its success: