Brand community is defined as a specialized and non geographical community based on a set of social relations among consumers who use a certain brand. Brand community is linked by consumers’ emotional interests to the brand. Brand community is defined as “a specialized, non geographical community based on a set of social relations among consumers who use a certain brand.” Brand community is linked by consumers’ emotional interests to the brand.
In the brand community, consumers believe that the experience value and image value advocated by the brand are consistent with their own outlook on life and values because of their special feelings for a brand. So as to produce a psychological resonance. In the form of expression, in order to strengthen the sense of belonging to the brand, the consumers in the community will organize (spontaneously or initiated by the brand owner) to form totem like worship and loyalty to the brand logo through the internal recognition ceremony, which is an extension of the consumer community.
In 1974, American historian bulstein put forward the concept of consumption community through the study of American history. Since then, in the emerging consumer culture after the industrial revolution in the United States, the meaning of community began to change from the relationship between people gathered in the original region to the more subtle relationship between people related to the use of a certain product or brand.
随后，学术界在对类似消费现象的研究中，提出了诸多相似概念，如社会团体(Greenwood，1994)，消费亚文化(SchoutenMcAlexander，1995)、新部落(Cova，1997)、生活方式社群(Firat 和 Dholakia，1998)、消费文化(Kozi2nets，2001)、品牌社群①(Muniz 和 OGuinn，1996 和 2001；McAlexander 等，2002)、品牌崇拜(Belk 和 Tumbat，2005)、反品牌社群(Hollenbeck 和 Zinkhan，2006；Zinkhan 和 Hollenbeck，2006)等。尤其在品牌社群概念提出以后，品牌社群的作用开始受到实务界和学术界的广泛关注，品牌社群逐渐成为营销学界的一个新的研究领域。十多年来，有关品牌社群的研究主要集中在品牌社群的概念、特征及其对消费者的影响等多个方面。
Then, in the study of similar consumption phenomenon, many similar concepts were put forward, such as social group (Greenwood, 1994), consumer subculture (Schouten mcalender, 1995), new tribe (Cova, 1997), Lifestyle Community (firat and Dholakia, 1998), consumer culture (kozi2nets, 2001), brand community (Muniz and oguinn, 1996 and 2001; mcalexander) They are brand worship (Belk and tumbat, 2005), anti brand community (Hollenbeck and Zinkhan, 2006; Zinkhan and Hollenbeck, 2006). Especially after the concept of brand community was put forward, the role of brand community began to be widely concerned by the practical and academic circles, and the brand community has gradually become a new research field in the marketing field. Over the past decade, the research on brand community has focused on the concept, characteristics and impact on consumers of brand community.
Key points of this paper
This paper discusses the object, main content and research methods of brand community research, and reviews the current hot spots of brand community research, in order to inspire the domestic brand community research.
The main embodiment of the new group
With the rapid development of communication technology and the aggravation of market globalization, a consumer group composed of consumers has been formed in the market. Its role and influence or significance to enterprises are different from the previous relatively isolated individual consumers.
This new consumption phenomenon is mainly reflected in the following three aspects:
Special consumer groups
Brand community is a special consumer group without geographical restrictions, which is based on a series of social relations formed by consumers using the same brand.
Three basic characteristics
It is a kind of collective consciousness, which means that members of a community have inherent connections with each other and are different from those outside the community.
Rituals and traditions
It is an important social process. The meaning of brand and brand community can be copied and transmitted through common rituals and traditions in the brand community, and the history, culture and consciousness shared by the community are also inherited.
It means that members of a community feel that they have certain responsibilities or obligations to the whole community and other community members. The above three basic characteristics are the embodiment of the essence of the brand community, and also the necessary conditions for the formation of the brand community.
Brand community concept
Muniz 和 OGuinn(2001)的品牌社群概念反映的是以某一品牌为中心的社会集合体，强调的是基于对某一品牌的使用、情感和联系而形成的消费者与消费者之间的关系。McAlexander 等人(2002)也认同上述三个基本特征，但他们从顾客体验视角，对 Muniz 和 OGuinn(2001)提出的品牌社群概念进行了扩展和延伸，认为品牌社群其实就是一种以消费者为中心的关系网，其存在的意义在于为消费者提供与品牌相关的不平常的消费体验。.品牌社群关系网中包含的主要关系有：消费者与品牌、消费者与企业、消费者与其所使用的产品以及消费者与其他同类消费者之间的关系。McAlexander 等人(2002)强调消费者在品牌社群中的品牌体验。消费者的任何品牌体验都来自于成员间的互动；同时，消费者在互动和体验过程中也与营销人员共同建构了品牌意义。Belk 和 Tumbat(2005)以及 Muniz 和 Schau(2005)分别对品牌社群的特征进行了深入研究，并认为品牌社群具有类宗教性。
The concept of brand community proposed by Muniz and oguinn (2001) reflects the social aggregation centered on a certain brand, and emphasizes the relationship between consumers based on the use, emotion and connection of a certain brand. Mcalexander et al. (2002) also agreed with the above three basic characteristics, but they extended and extended the concept of brand community proposed by Muniz and oguinn (2001) from the perspective of customer experience. They think that brand community is actually a kind of consumer centered network, and its significance lies in providing consumers with unusual consumption experience related to brand. The main relationships in the brand community network include: the relationship between consumers and brands, between consumers and enterprises, between consumers and their products, and between consumers and other similar consumers. Mcalexander et al. (2002) emphasized the brand experience of consumers in the brand community. Any brand experience of consumers comes from the interaction among members; at the same time, consumers construct the brand meaning together with marketing personnel in the process of interaction and experience. Belk and tumbat (2005) as well as Muniz and schau (2005) respectively conducted in-depth studies on the characteristics of brand communities, and believed that brand communities have quasi religious characteristics.
Research object of brand community
可以从品牌社群的存在形态和品牌所属产品品类两个维度来进行划分。按照品牌社群的存在形态，可以将所研究的品牌社群划分为实体品牌社群和在线品牌社群。实体品牌社群是指社群成员之间通常进行面对面的交流，定期或不定期举行集会和关于品牌的活动，例哈雷品牌社群、吉普品牌社群和单线滚轴溜冰社群等。实体品牌社群可以直接影响社群成员对品牌的态度和认识，社群成员对品牌的反应可以在参与品牌社群活动后得到直接的体现。在线品牌社群是指品牌社群成员交流的载体主要是网络，社群成员主要通过品牌论坛、个人主页和博客等交流彼此的品牌体验和对品牌的态度，StarTrek、星战迷和 SunsJava 中心社群等都是在线品牌社群。虽然在线品牌社群的成员不进行面对面的交流，但网络上的文字对社群成员的思想和行为也会产生深刻和直接的影响，其程度不亚于实体品牌社群对社群成员的影响。由于这类品牌社群的成员是在网络空间中进行交流的，因此我们按照 Kozinets(2002)的提法，将这类品牌社群称为“在线品牌社群”。根据品牌所属产品品类的不同，可以将所研究的品牌社群大致划分为高外显性产品品牌社群、低外显性产品品牌社群和服务品牌社群三种。由于消费者很容易将自我和高外显性产品品牌相联系，并通过这类品牌来表达自我、展现个性，因此围绕高外显性产品品牌形成的品牌社群较多，如哈雷品牌社群、吉普品牌社群和麦金托什机用户组织等，将这类品牌社群作为研究对象的研究也较多。为了探究品牌社群对一般产品品牌和服务品牌的作用，Cova 和 Pace(2006)研究了围绕番茄酱这种低外显性产品的意大利品牌 Nutella 形成的品牌社群，McAlexander 等(2003)则研究了围绕 NativeAmericanCasino 这一娱乐场所服务品牌形成的品牌社群。
It can be divided into two dimensions: the existing form of brand community and the category of products to which the brand belongs. According to the existing form of brand community, the brand community can be divided into physical brand community and online brand community. Entity brand community refers to the face-to-face communication between community members, regular or irregular meetings and brand related activities, such as Harley brand community, Jeep brand community and single roller skating community. Physical brand community can directly affect the attitude and understanding of community members towards brand, and the response of community members to brand can be directly reflected after participating in brand community activities. Online brand community refers to the communication carrier of brand community members, mainly network. Community members mainly exchange their brand experience and attitude towards brand through brand forum, personal homepage and blog. Startrek, Star Wars fans and sunsjava central community are all online brand communities. Although members of the online brand community do not conduct face-to-face communication, the words on the Internet also have a profound and direct impact on the thoughts and behaviors of the community members, which is no less than the impact of the entity brand community on the community members. Since members of such a brand community communicate in cyberspace, we call this kind of brand community “online brand community” according to kozinets (2002). According to the product category of the brand, the brand community can be divided into three types: high overt product brand community, low overt product brand community and service brand community. Because consumers are easy to connect themselves with high externality product brands, and express themselves and show their personality through such brands, there are more brand communities formed around high explicit product brands, such as Harley brand community, Jeep brand community and Mckintosh machine user organization, etc., and there are more researches on such brand communities as research objects. In order to explore the effect of brand community on general product brand and service brand, Cova and pace (2006) studied the brand community formed by Italian brand nutella, which is a low overt product of tomato sauce, while mcalender et al. (2003) studied the brand community formed around the service brand of Native American asino.
从近几年有关品牌社群的研究来看，相关研究大致可以划分为两大类：一是关于品牌社群现象的阐释性研究，即通过对这种新现象的观察、归纳和提炼来分析品牌社群的概念和特征等，此类研究以 Mu2niz、OGuinn、Belk 和 Kozinets 等为代表。对于品牌社群的概念和特征，前文已进行了详细的探讨，这里不再赘述。二是关于品牌社群成因和作用的实证研究，包括根据已有的理论对品牌社群的形成做出尝试性解释和验证，对品牌社群对其成员的影响进行实证研究等，此类研究以 McAlexander、Schouten、Algesheimer 和 Dholakia 等为代表。
According to the research on brand community in recent years, the related research can be divided into two categories: one is the interpretive research on the phenomenon of brand community, that is to analyze the concept and characteristics of brand community by observing, summarizing and refining this new phenomenon. Such research is represented by mu2niz, oguinn, Belk and kozinets. The concept and characteristics of brand community have been discussed in detail before, and will not be repeated here. The second is the empirical research on the causes and effects of brand community, including the tentative explanation and verification of the formation of brand community according to the existing theories, and the empirical research on the influence of brand community on its members. Such studies are represented by mcaalexander, Schouten, algesheimer and Dholakia.
For the brand community, a new consumption phenomenon, another focus of scholars is how to study it. The applicability of research methods is of great significance to reveal research problems, and the specific selection of methods depends on the problems to be studied. According to the two major categories of brand community research mentioned above, the main methods of brand community research can be divided into empirical research on the relationship between various variables of brand community and the interpretation of brand community phenomenon; according to whether the collected data are from the entity brand community or online brand community, the research methods can be divided into ethnography and weblog There are two kinds of methods.
Empirical research and interpretive research
实证研究是指基于已有理论提出相应的假设，通过量表开发和问卷设计等方法来收集数据，采 SPSS、AMOS 或 LISREL 等统计软件进行分析验证，进而得出相应的结论。这种方法通常是在新的消费情境下对已有的理论进行验证，而且国内此类研究方法的使用也正趋于成熟。阐释研究(Feldman，1995)则指对已有理论不一定能够做出合理解释的新的特殊现象直接进行观察和分析，通过人种志、网络志等研究方法收集、归纳和整理数据，进而提出自己的扎根理论(groundedtheory)。使用此类研究方法难度较大，但对于揭示潜藏于需求、欲望、意义和选择之中的丰富的象征世界非常有效(如 Levy，1959)，其研究成果对于新理论的探索和发现意义重大。，此类研究方法在国外营销领域的运用已相对成熟，而在国内营销领域却鲜见运用。
Empirical research is based on the existing theory to put forward the corresponding hypothesis, through the scale development and questionnaire design methods to collect data, using SPSS, Amos or LISREL statistical software for analysis and verification, and then draw the corresponding conclusions. This method is usually used to verify the existing theories in the new consumption context, and the use of such research methods in China is becoming mature. Hermeneutic research (Feldman, 1995) refers to the direct observation and analysis of new special phenomena that can not be reasonably explained by the existing theories, collect, summarize and sort out the data through the research methods of ethnography and weblog, and then put forward their own grounded theory. It is difficult to use this kind of research method, but it is very effective to reveal the rich symbolic world hidden in the needs, desires, meanings and choices (such as levy, 1959), and its research results are of great significance for the exploration and discovery of new theories. This kind of research method has been relatively mature in foreign marketing field, but rarely used in domestic marketing field.
Ethnographic method and weblog method
为了探究品牌社群的概念、特征和对消费者的意义，国外学者分别采用人种志研究方法(Muniz 和 OGuinn，2001)和网络志研究方法(Kozinets，2002)对实体品牌社群和在线品牌社群进行观察、参与式观察、访谈等，并提出了不少开创性的观点，为构建品牌社群相关理论奠定了基础。人种志方法是一种人类学研究方法，被广泛应用于社会研究、文化研究和消费行为研究等社会科学研究领域。它指实地调研或对特殊社会群体的活动意义、具体活动等的研究，同时也包括对这些研究的解释和呈现。研究者努力深入某个特殊群体的文化之中“，从内部”来呈现相关的意义体系与行为习惯，这本质上是一种开放式的研究。这种方法通过参与和观察来研究特殊的文化现象，研究者在研究过程中享有很大的弹性，可充分发挥作为研究工具的智慧(Sherry，1991)。
In order to explore the concept, characteristics and significance of brand community to consumers, foreign scholars used ethnographic research methods (Muniz and Oguinn, 2001) and weblog research methods (kozinets, 2002) carried out observation, participatory observation and interview on the entity brand community and online brand community, and put forward many innovative views, which laid the foundation for the construction of brand community related theories. Ethnography is an anthropological research method, which is widely used in social science research fields such as social research, cultural research and consumer behavior research. It refers to on-the-spot investigation or research on the significance and specific activities of special social groups, and also includes the interpretation and presentation of these studies. Researchers try to go deep into the culture of a special group to present the relevant meaning system and behavior habits “from the inside”, which is essentially an open research. This method studies special cultural phenomena through participation and observation. Researchers enjoy great flexibility in the research process and can give full play to their wisdom as a research tool (Sherry, 1991).
The general ethnographic research procedures that help researchers to participate in the observation are: (1) to find out the research object and understand its cultural characteristics; (2) to collect and analyze information; (3) to ensure the credibility of the interpretation; (4) to pay attention to the research ethics and get the feedback from the respondents. Market based ethnography is not suitable for studying the consumption behavior of a product or service market