Consumers as “Integrators” of Marketing Communications: When “Like” is as Good as “Buy”

Consumers as “Integrators” of Marketing Communications: When “Like” is as Good as “Buy”

Kelley O'Reilly (Haworth College of Business, Western Michigan University, USA) and Karen M. Lancendorfer (Haworth College of Business, Western Michigan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6114-1.ch030


This case study explores how Falken Tire Corporation (FTC) leveraged motorsports to build brand credibility, and how consumer-based brand equity developed in virtual fan communities via social media marketing. This brand credibility and equity ultimately helped the company to establish powerful marketing relationships, and connect with distinctly different consumer groups. Findings suggest that consumers may be adept integrators of marketing communication channels and across media. Companies with strong virtual communities may benefit from the case study suggestions that are provided and discussed based on the theoretical perspective of customer-based brand equity. Marketing scholars and practitioners alike may find this case study of interest due to the growing desire by companies to develop strong bonds with consumers and their interest in effectively using social media as a marketing tool.
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Company Background

In 1983, Falken Tire Corporation (FTC), a subsidiary of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, launched the Falken brand in its native country of Japan. Two years later the brand was introduced in the North American market. The Falken brand was originally perceived in the U.S. market as a niche tire within the ultra-high performance replacement market. During its first two decades in the U.S., FTC’s market share remained stagnant at less than 1%, with first tier brands such as Goodyear, Michelin, and Bridgestone controlling the market as shown in Table 1.

Table 1.
2003 US performance replacement market brands by tier (Listed in order of market share)
Tier OneTier TwoTier Three
1. Goodyear6. Dunlop11. Pirelli
2. Michelin7. Toyo12. Sumitomo
3. Bridgestone8. Kumho13. Continental
4. BF Goodrich9. Falken14. General
5. Yokohama10. Firestone15. Cooper

Source: Modern Tire Dealer;

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