This study considers the attraction of company online communities, taking the perspective of relationship marketing. The purpose of the study is to identify and analyse the attraction of different company online communities. To achieve this purpose three questions are answered. The first question considers the classification of company online communities. The second question explores the types of relationships in company online communities while the third one identifies attraction factors in those relationships. The exploratory and qualitative case study approach enabled to use an abductive logic in which different processes are intertwined with each other. The empirical data was gathered in four case company online communities with multiple methods including both traditional methods such as interviews and online research methods such as posing questions in discussion forums. To be able to find a wide variety of attraction factors, the cases represent different types of online communities aimed for women and families, teenagers, banks' customers and software developers. The study suggests that company online community members may establish different kind and levels of relationships. These relationships may be formed between members, between a member and a maintainer, between a member and a service as well as between a member and a brand. Altogether 16 attraction factors were found in these relationships. As a supplement to the attraction relationships and the attraction factors, attraction was divided into two types: self-related or social related. To obtain a deeper insight into this phenomenon, the differences between the maintainers' and the members' views on the attraction factors were compared, and finally two models of attraction offerings were constructed based on the type of attraction and the origin of attraction. The present study contributes to marketing theories by modeling the attraction of company online communities. The study also offers valuable knowledge for companies in building, maintaining and utilising their own online communities. As studies on relationship marketing with company online communities are still rather non-existing, this study opens several future research avenues.
|Award date||2 Mar 2007|
|Place of Publication||Tampere|
|Publication status||Published - 2007|
|MoE publication type||G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)|
- case study
- company online communities
- relationship marketing