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The Role of Brand Communities within the Athletic Footwear Industry

An Assessment of Selected Brand Communities with a Focus on the Swiss Athletic Footwear Industry

Written by D. Müller

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Business Administration>Marketing & Sales




Bachelor Thesis: Brand identity Brand identity is "...a common element that sends a single message in its wide range of products, behaviors and communications." (Kapfler, 2012). Therefore, the brand identity explains how the brand will support the overall mission and goals of the organization. Identity is the source of brand positioning. Brand identity can be explained by products, processes, organizations, people or symbols (Aaker, 2015). 3.1.2 Brand positioning Brand positioning is the way consumers, users, buyers and others view competing brands. Brands can be drawn on the perception grid to position them based on certain evaluation characteristics (AMA, 2017). 3.1.3 Brand loyalty Brand loyalty occurs when consumers usually repeatedly buy products or services produced by the same manufacturer over time, instead of buying from multiple suppliers in a certain category (AMA, 2017 year). Consumers are so keen to buy the same brand that the behavior of competitors is ignored (Lazarevic, 2012). 3.1.4 Brand equity Brand equity can be viewed from two perspectives; financial perspective and behavioral perspective. The first one asks how the brand performs successfully, while the second one asks the reason for the brand's success (Esch, 2014). The American Marketing Association defines brand equity as the value of a brand. From a consumer's point of view, it is based on consumers' attitudes towards positive brand attributes and beneficial consequences of brand use (AMA, 2017). Owning brand equity means that consumers believe that the product is better than any other similar product on the market, and that the brand is better than any other product on the market. Therefore, consumers must pay attention to the brand in order to buy and be loyal to it (Keller, 2016). 3.1.5 Online social networks are web-based platforms that allow community building (Heidemann, 2010). The most common forms of online communities are online social networks, such as,,, and (Heidemann, 2010). The other subgroups of the online community are support communities, advocacy communities, and insight communities (Douglas, 2016). 3.1.6 Word of mouth (WoM) is a form of verbal communication between the sender and the receiver about a brand, product or service. WoMi is a technology that affects offline promotion (Chaffey, Smith, & Smith, 2012, p .407). It plays an important role in influencing and regulating product or brand image (Esch, 2017). 3.1.7 Net Promoter Score Net Promoter Score (NPS) provides an indicator for viral recommendations for online word-of-mouth publicity. It measures customer experience and provides powerful predictive indicators for business growth (Esch, 2017). 3.2 Brand community In order to better understand BCs, the term and its origin will be explained by defining communities, brands and BCs. In the second step of section 3.2.2, you will answer why companies use BC and their value to the brand. Finally, in Section 3.2.3, success factors and measurement tools are defined. The theory and framework introduced in this section will provide a basis for further evaluation of BC. 3.2.1 What is a brand community? Community In addition, the concept of community has changed over time. In 1974, Bell and Newby defined community as "social interaction based on the process of geographic area, self-sufficiency, co-living, and common goals, norms, and means." (Ezioni, 1996). Initially, the community was limited to one geographic location. Today, however, globalization, technological progress, and modern communications make the formation of communities independent of time and place. The constant characteristics of the community are defined as "a sense of consciousness, shared rituals and traditions, a sense of moral responsibility perceived in the form of responsibilities or obligations to the entire community" (Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001). Communities develop and change over time. Loewenfeld (2006, p. 31) describes this development, in which traditional communities are transformed into so-called new community forms due to industrialization, urbanization, modernism, postmodernism, and technological progress. . Figure 2 collects the transition from the traditional community form to the new community form. The community can be further defined from a psychological and social perspective. The basic theory of community is the social identity theory developed by Tajfel and Turner in the 1970s (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Later, Ashforth and Mael (Ashforth & Mael, 1989) further developed it into the theory of organizational identity. Later McMillan (1996, p. 317-319) further developed the theory, which has become the most widely accepted understanding of how communities are constructed. "Community consciousness is a sense of belonging among members, a feeling that members are important to each other and the group, and a common belief that the needs of members will be met through their commitment to unite together" (McMillan, year 1996). Brand Keller’s brand definition will be used to define the term brand; “A brand is a set of psychological associations held by consumers, which increases the perceived value of a product or service”. Building a strong brand becomes very important because a well-known and easily recognizable brand creates value for cooperation (Keller, 2016). A strong brand creates added value for the functional use of the product itself (Loewenfeld, 2006). Brands can also be explained by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Read Less