The case for brand communities: 40% say they would spend more…

December 6th, 2017

A couple of weeks ago we previewed our new report, The Benefits of Brand Communities, at an event which also featured a panel discussion hosted by Catherine Maskell, Managing Director of the Content Marketing Association. The discussion was based on the findings of the report which shows how important being part of a brand community is to consumers, and for marketers how it benefits both spend and loyalty. It included speakers from Harley-Davidson, Metro and City AM, Porsche Club GB and the Department of Psychology at the University of East Anglia. 

Looking at the detail of the report, 40% of people we surveyed in the UK this summer said that being part of a brand community meant they’d be likely to spend more money on that brand’s products and services, and that rose to well over half (58%) of consumers aged 25 to 34.

We all know that consumers are constantly seeking inspiration and information, but sometimes the marketing industry’s over-reliance on tech-focused tools can mean that brands are communicating in a way that is intrusive, blunt and ultimately ineffective. Our research shifts the emphasis from a data-or-nothing approach to cultivate long-term relationships, brand advocacy and boost sales.

One of our event panellists, Dr Charles Seger, who leads the Social and Embodied Cognition Research Group at the University of East Anglia has endorsed the report’s findings with his own analysis of consumer behaviour, telling us that: “Belongingness is one of our basic human needs. We are motivated to both assert our group identification and our individuality. Brand communities can allow us to fulfil these motives. People will stay loyal to brand communities that provide a unique experience, allow us to express our self-concept, and engage us with a meaningful community.”

In total, 1,200 UK consumers were surveyed by Censuswide on our behalf, exploring attitudes towards brand community, loyalty and communications, with a focus on the luxury, automotive and travel sectors.

When it comes to specifying how important brand communities are in specific industries, 25- to 34-year-olds lead the way: 57% of millennials think that brand communities are important in luxury; 56% in the travel sector agree and 55% in the automotive sector. The average is 41% for travel, 36% in luxury and 34% in automotive.

Other key results include:

  • 37% of respondents are more likely to stick with a brand than switch to competitors if they are part of a community
  • Quality of service turns consumers into brand advocates in the travel sector, according to 41% of respondents
  • Quality of products makes consumers brand advocates in the luxury (44%) and automotive sectors (37%)
  • In luxury, respondents most value discounts and offers from brand communities (47%), followed by invites to exclusive events (25%), receiving exclusive products (22%) and access to exclusive online content (19%)
  • Email is the consumer’s preferred channel for communication with brands, with social media and magazines the next most popular channels.

Commenting on the report for us, Chris Seaward, General Manager of the Porsche Club GB, and a major advocate of brand communities said that “reaching a new lead is an expensive thing for a brand to do. Through a community like the Club, the Porsche brand can connect with people already engaged with the brand, and tapping into this existing community becomes cost effective. There is additional value for members and the brand as enthusiasts are regularly invited to visit the Factory in Stuttgart to see latest designs and development.”

Catherine Maskell’s view of the relationship between content and communities is equally unequivocal.  “Community is best enjoyed when the relationship is a two way-street – if you empower, engage and integrate with your customers you ultimately make them feel special, and subsequently they will feel encouraged to give back. Which is why so many people agree that they spend more and are more loyal to brands when they are part of their community. When interacting with these communities it’s easy to be blinded by focusing on the technology used to deliver branded messages however this can lead to not enough time being spent on generating genuinely useful content and real human engagement.”

The findings and analysis in The Benefits of Brand Communities provide invaluable insights that I hope will encourage brands to consider the relevance of community-based marketing. Developing a strong brand community can create a viable, long-term advocacy mechanism, increase the lifetime value of existing customers, and provide potential customers with an honest, open and inclusive window on a brand, product or service.

The full report, The Benefits of Brand Communities, is now available as a free download from our website, or you can get in touch with me to obtain a hard copy or discuss content and communities further.

Download the report here.

Zoë Francis-Cox, Agency Director, Archant Dialogue



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