Enhanced Social Presence Through eBranding the Consumer in Virtual Communities

Enhanced Social Presence Through eBranding the Consumer in Virtual Communities

Robert Pennington (Fo Guang University, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-171-9.ch012
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eBranding affords consumers the necessary tools to represent themselves by communicating their roles and relationships in virtual consumer culture environments for transfer to actual consumer culture environments. Consumption in actual environments results in brand viability and marketing success.
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This chapter discusses brands as critical design elements in virtual communities. All human behavior communicates, including brand consumption, which is so important to consumer culture that any electronic environment without brands will seem unrelated to any actual environment. The increasing use of electronic technology in marketing communication requires that marketers understand the culture of consumption and the function of brands as consumer communication. This understanding will enable marketers to create effective electronic environment designs for product and brand trial, and to integrate electronic environments with other marketing communication.

This chapter is about the evolution of brands and virtual communities, projecting that evolution into future trends. The chapter begins by discussing the evolution of brands from representations of property rights to representations of consumer properties. The next section discusses the evolution of virtual communities. The following sections discuss culture generally, the system of meanings in consumer culture, culture in virtual communities, communicating culture through products and brands, and branding consumption. The final section discusses future trends, a continuing evolution in which marketers design virtual communities that include brands to give consumers a sense of being in those communities.

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