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Due to the increasingly competitive business environment, the creation and maintenance of customer loyalty plays a vital role in marketing strategies. There is a huge need to escalate the relationship between companies through particular means, because brand is not only about the product. Instead of projecting the need for your product / service and value-oriented content to the customer, perpetuating the «us-them» relationship model, it is vital to dissolve boundaries and form the «we» experience – the brand community. 
The term “brand community” was first considered and introduced by Albert Muniz Jr. and Thomas  O’Guinn in a 1995 paper for the Association for Consumer Research Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In a 2001 article entitled “Brand Community”, published in Consumer Research Journal (SSCI), scientists defined this concept as “a specialised, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand.” Thus, this document of 2001 was recognised as one of the most significant articles in the field of economics and business.
The creation of brand communities is a vital task when constructing a company whether online or offline. A clear brand that resonates with consumers helps create a loyal community base that trusts and supports the company’s brand. Then this brand community serves not only a permanent, loyal group of buyers, but also its free and unofficial representatives. 

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After introducing the «brand community» term, plenty of empirical studies proved its importance of brand communities existence for both businesses (for creating bigger customer base, improving product development) and customers (development of brand belonging sense):

64% of companies state the brand community has improved their decision-making 
According to a study conducted at Innsbruck University School of Management, branded social community, filled with followers and clients, has proved that almost two-thirds of companies can accommodate their customers by themselves, making reasonable decisions that can affect the organisation in the long term.

86% of Fortune 500 companies report communities provide insight into customer needs 
According to Mycustomer.com report, when food and beverage companies and sports goods brands were surveyed at the value of brand communities, it was reported that interactive communities were the platform that provided companies with a deeper understanding of the needs of customers. This leads not only to increased customer satisfaction, but also to increased brand loyalty.

Therefore, basing on literature reviewed, the existence of brand communities directly impacts on following areas:
Customer loyalty
Customer loyalty happens when consumers of a certain brand regularly purchase goods or services from the particular company, because they became part of the brand community and feel the sense of belonging. The more time and energy the company invests in the community of its brand, with the more loyalty consumers respond. When consumer expectations are met through relationships with other brand fans, interaction with brand experts and other fulfilled promises from the company, the trust of customers towards the brand is growing. This leads to a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to their beloved brand and products.
Marketing ideas and product research
Some of the best new ideas come from the community of brands. Because participants share stories, share ideas and recommend product changes, it creates a free flow of information and research without the use of a research team to coordinate all this. Smart business people take into account these feedbacks and questions and introduce frequent requests and innovative proposals into new projects that further satisfy customers while improving the product itself. Brands communities are important tools that help companies find out what their customers want, and how their products fit their needs.
Enhancing feedback and recommendations
When customers form a community around the brand that they like, they often talk quite frequent about this brand. They may provide product recommendations to friends and family, offering evidence of the benefits that can be achieved through the brand. As more people hear these testimonials, they get curious about the product and are probably investigating the product / service claims. Moreover, they are also more likely to buy items recommended by someone they know. Studies show that simply following the company on Twitter, one of the forms of the brand community, increases the likelihood of recommendations and purchases of products / services of that company by 50% or even more.
How companies use brand communities in terms of product insight, in %?  
Customer connection
As enterprises become more and more viral, social networks and communications become necessary to achieve the success of the business plan. Companies are no longer sufficient to obtain expert testimonies or studies that support their claims. Today they also need to interact with the consumer by providing real personal connection and caring service providers.

Considering the practical examples on how brand communities are vital for stronger brand recognition, some examples will be mentioned below.

 1. GoPro is no longer just a range of cameras, but also a worldwide platform for fans to share their passion for sport and adventures. One of the company’s marketing strategy is based on user’s video content, which appeals to the audience, but at he same time demonstrating the hight quality of its action cameras. The GoPro has become massive brand community «at least 6,000 GoPro videos uploaded to YouTube every day.»

2. Sephora has built an incredible brand community, helping customers feel connected to other beauty fans and to the brand itself. Beauty Talk is a massive, well-organised forum where users can ask questions, share ideas and solve their problems with other enthusiasts. Moreover, the Beauty Board offers another way to interact with Sephora products and the community itself. The photos link to the page of all the cosmetics used.

3. Kraft Foods has one of the best online communities in the cyber world. The user can even entering use the platform without signing up. Additional features provided by Kraft when the user signs up are tips on recipes, online discussions with other users and general tips to make quick meals. Used Kraft products are presented in the menu