NRI Papers
No.63   April 1, 2003
  Net Communities in Brand Marketing  
Tsuyoshi KANAMORI and Atsushi KIMURA
      Net communities were long the bane of manufacturers and retailers, which tried to keep their distance from these sites that they often saw as little more than venues for product and company bashing. Consumers are now turning to net communities for information on product purchases in an increasing number of cases, gradually making these sites into major channels for marketing communication. These net communities were originally intermediate groups with vague purposes and oftentimes even vaguer role structures. Moreover, because of such special characteristics as membership anonymity and asynchronous communications, their structure and functions were typically hard to fathom. In actuality, however, there are a number of net communities--such as user sites that focus on specific brands as well as sites that review specific product categories--that have a strong and extensive impact on consumer behavior. As innovators, opinion leaders and heavy users tend to gather together in net communities, marketers can expect such groups to exert an ever more powerful macroscopic effect on marketing. From the microscopic viewpoint, moreover, one-to-one advice based on actual experience has a strong impact on the decision-making processes of consumers, leading to an upswing in brand value through the formation of favorable impressions. As a result, the following three strategies will become necessary for marketers: (1) undertaking promotional activities to encourage access to net communities, (2) transmitting brand-focused "story information" within net communities to generate favorable impressions, and (3) providing "rules and tools" for effective communication.
Contents
I Brand Marketing and Net Communities
1 Net Communities as Marketing Tools
2 Increasing Users
3 Start of Utilization by Companies
II Community Marketing Gaining Increased Attention
1 Positioning of Net Communities Under Group Theory
2 Scope of Net Communities
3 Community Marketing
III Classification and Examples of Net Communities
1 Nine Types of Net Communities
2 Communities Meriting Attention from the Marketing Standpoint
IV Structure and Functions of Net Communities
1 Characteristics of Net Communities
2 Net Community Activation Mechanisms
3 Purposes of Net Communities
4 Themes of Net Communities
5 The Influence of Net Communities on the Process
V Net Communities: Effects and Utilization Strategy
1 Macroscopic Effects of Net Communities
2 Microscopic Effects of Net Communities
3 Promoting the Net Community Itself
4 Originating Story Information Concerning the Brand
5 Providing Rules and Tools
VI Ubiquitous Networks and Net Communities
1 Applicable Product Categories
2 Resistance to the Net Community Concept
3 Structural Changes Through New Technology

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