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Brand communities


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Review of Ouwersloot, H., & Odekerken-Schroder, G. (2008). Who‟s who in brand communities – and why? European Journal of Marketing, 42(5/6), 571-585

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Brand communities

  1. 1. Literature Review Sample Series No.4 Prepared by Michael Ling LITERATURE REVIEW SAMPLE SERIES NO. 4 “Ouwersloot, H., & Odekerken-Schroder, G. (2008). Who‟s who in brand communities – and why? European Journal of Marketing, 42(5/6), 571-585” Prepared by Michael Ling Email: Note: Michael Ling is the sole author of this document. You’re welcomed to use its contents but, as a courtesy, please quote the source of this paper http// Page 1
  2. 2. Literature Review Sample Series No.4 Prepared by Michael Ling Research Problem & Objective Brand communities are commonly perceived to exhibit a fair degree of homogeneity among its members. The authors argue that current research fails to investigate the heterogeneous elements within a community such as the various motivations that each member has when he or she joins up. By naming and investigating four motivations that members might have, the authors set out to explore the relative importance that members attach to their various relationships (McAlexander et al., 2002) within a community. The possible segments in a community are then identified by cluster analysis based on the relative strengths of these relationship constructs. The four motivations and their corresponding community relationships are as below. 1. “Quality assurance” to “Customer-to-company relationship”. 2. “High involvement in products” to “Customer-to-product relationship”. 3. “Joint consumption” to “Customer-to-customer relationship”. 4. “Symbolic function of brand” to “Customer-to-brand relationship”. Sampling The authors have selected two communities in their research - one being the community of players of the board game Settlers of Catan, the other the Belgian and Dutch members of the “Swatch the club”. The authors have not adopted any probability sampling and, instead, used haphazard sampling in collecting data for their research, which is likely to produce “ineffective, highly unrepresentative samples” (Neuman, 2006). For example, regarding the Settlers of Catan community, the authors state that they “visited these four tournaments and asked participants to complete the self-administered questionnaires”. As there are twelve Dutch tournaments, the authors have merely covered one-third of their targets. Page 2
  3. 3. Literature Review Sample Series No.4 Prepared by Michael Ling As the authors have not provided size estimates of the two brand communities, there is no basis upon which to justify the adequacy and representativeness of the two samples. The authors have not used any sampling plans for the two communities. The collected samples (and response rates) are 104 respondents (81 percent) and 125 respondents (22 percent) from the Settlers of Catan and “Swatch the club” respectively. Regarding such significant low response rate – 22 percent – in the “Swatch the club” community, the authors should have provided more details such as errors and distortions that might be caused by non-response bias. Furthermore, the two selected communities differ in so many aspects such as product categories, industries, geographical scopes, sizes and community development stage. It is not a sound decision to conduct research on two vastly dissimilar samples, a fact that is also acknowledged by the authors, which offer limited scope for generalization. Measurement instrument The measurement instrument is a questionnaire that consists of 16 items on a seven-point Linkert scale, which are adopted from the multiple item scales by McAlexander et al. (2002). However, the authors have “substituted items we believe relate closely to the investigated construct” because the original scale is partially complete. As the scales were developed from prior scales, it is important to run pretest with samples from the two brand communities to determine the suitability of those scales. Pretests are particularly important when the scales are taken out of their normal context (Hair et al., 2010), which is a case in point as the original scales were used for automobile communities whereas this research is conducted on communities based on watches and games. As the authors have not run any pretests, the adequacy and validity of the measurement instruments are highly questionable. Results Page 3
  4. 4. Literature Review Sample Series No.4 Prepared by Michael Ling The research uses a combination of Ward‟s method and K-means clustering procedure to analyse the data sets which, upon application of agglomeration schedules, results in a four- cluster and a six-cluster solution for the Settlers of Catan and for Swatch communities respectively. Upon consideration of the various scores along the four customer-centric dimensions, the clusters in the Settlers of Catan community are classified into „Enthusiasts‟, „Behind the scenes‟, „Users‟ and „Not me‟. Similarly, the clusters in the Swatch community are classified into „Enthusiasts‟, „Behind the scenes‟, „Users‟, „Not me‟, „Socializers‟ and „Average‟. The authors conclude that there is evidence of heterogeneity among members in the two communities but concede that there are difficulties to explain the clusters on the basis of the customer relationships. It is important to validate and to ensure the practical significance of clustering solutions given the subjective nature of cluster analysis (Hair et al., 2010). A common approach is to cluster analyse separate samples and then compare the cluster solutions, where discrepancies can be addressed. Another approach is to split the sample into two groups, cluster analyse the two groups and compare the results. Unfortunately, the authors have not validated their results by any one of these methods, which cast doubts on the validity and reliability of their results. References: Hair, J. F., W. C. Black, B. J. Babin, R. E. Anderson. (2010) Multivariate Data Analysis – A Global Perspective, 7ed, Pearson Prentice Hall. McAlexander, J.H., Schouten, J.W., and H.F. Koenig. (2002) Building brand community, Journal of Marketing, 66 (1), 38-54. Neuman, W.L. (2006) Social Research Methods – Qualitative and quantitative Approaches, 6ed, Pearson. Page 4