Articles

Virtuele connecties tussen consumenten: netwerken van consumptiekennis en kameraadschap

K. DE VALCK, B. Wierenga, G. Van Bruggen

Ontwikkelingen in het Marktonderzoek

2006, vol. 31, pp.27-43

Départements : Marketing, GREGHEC (CNRS)


Consumers increasingly interact with other consumers through the Internet. Electronically based discussion forums, bulletin boards, list servers, chat rooms, newsgroups, and web logs provide consumers worldwide with the ability to share their knowledge, experiences, and opinions. The popularity of electronic consumer exchanges is reflected in the vast number of virtual communities that specifically focus on consumption-related interests. These virtual communities of consumption represent substantial networks of consumer knowledge and companionship that affect consumer behavior. In this article, we address several new insights with respect to the functioning of virtual communities that will enable community managers, marketers, and market researchers to strategically use the opportunities that are oftentimes left unexploited. We discuss various community platforms and point out how the organizational structure may reinforce their potential as an online reference group. Furthermore, we give a classification of virtual community member types based on their participation behavior that allows marketers to locate interesting target groups and that gives them insight in how to address them. Finally, we show how market researchers can use netnographic research to gain insight not only in the functioning of the virtual community as an information source and reference group, but also in the processes that underlie the buying decisions of the community members


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