Consumer's Participation Model in Virtual Communities

Consumer's Participation Model in Virtual Communities

Zohreh Dehdashti Shahrokh (Department of Management and Accounting, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran) and Pedram Behyar (Department of Management and Accounting, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/IJEBR.2017100102
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Abstract

Virtual communities are very impressive in the activities associated with the business using facilities provided on the Web and broad access to consumers. More access to users also helps virtual communities to be leading in attracting more users in competition with the other virtual communities. In this regard, providing the model of consumers' participation in virtual communities can be effective in the competitive environment from the cognitive aspects of consumer behavior. The aim of this study is to design consumers' participation model in virtual communities. The mixed method is selected as the research method and in the qualitative section, semi-structured interviews were conducted among the panel of experts; after analyzing the results using the content analysis, the designed model was finally tested. The results showed that in addition to personal and social factors and the services offered by the website, the other factors such as attitudes and we-intentions have also significant impact on the consumers' participation.
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Introduction

For a long time, new technologies have not only led to transformation of the type of business and reproduction of its related definitions, but also have changed the social environment. Aligning Internet and World Wide Web has created such a specific phenomenon with these facilities; since, it created a new perspective from both commercial and social point of view.

Virtual communities, using facilities provided by the Internet, are not only powerful tools for the members' communication, but they are also an opportunity for companies, manufacturers, merchants and marketers who have a broader communication with their customers by proper information and advertising about their products and services to target members of these communities and they have provided the grounds to meet the expectations, that ultimately has led to more profit for these activities (Dehdashti and Poursaeed, 2015).

Given the increasing importance of virtual communities' sites and the extensive use of them by consumers, despite strong infrastructure and large number of virtual community sites in Iran, the number of users of these sites is very low; because, despite 30 million Internet users, who are active at least at one of these virtual communities, less than 10% of them are members of Iranian virtual communities (www.ispa.ir). Looking at the statistics on the users of sites active in the field of virtual communities, it can be concluded that these sites are faced with the problem of attracting users; in other words, they do not recognize their consumers’ behavior, how to increase user engagement on their site as well as the factors affecting engagement and attracting them.

Improper use and lack of understanding about the potential of the virtual communities in the marketing field in Iran is another issue; due to the several reasons including lack of awareness of these communities, as well as marketers lack of attention to the environment, they have not properly used in business. In addition, because of filtering of many of these virtual communities in the country, there is negative mental background that prevents attracting researchers', users' and marketers' attentions to these environments.

Given the importance of virtual communities and the growing emergence of them on the Internet, the empirical studies that examine the new way of communications, especially on virtual communities are limited in Iran. Also, most existing models only examine the social factors and its analysis has been conducted in this field (Oliveira and Huertas, 2015; Han, et al., 2015; Zhou, 2011; Cheung Chiu and Lee, 2011; Li, 2011).

The main purpose of this research is to design the model of consumer participation in virtual communities to help the active sites in this area offer better services by achieving better understanding about them. Therefore, the main research question is what are the criteria and dimensions of the consumers' participation model in virtual communities?

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