Exploring value creative and value destructive practice through an online brand community: : The case of Starbucks.

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Avdelningen för företagsekonomi

Abstract:

This paper explores value co-creation and value co-destruction with a focus on the social practices embedded in the online brand community “My Starbucks Idea (MSI).” The objectives of the research are accomplished through a detailed explanation of the study’s stages, starting with the Research design/Planning, and followed by the Community Entry (Entrée), Data collection, Limitations, and Ethical implications. Since the study is exploratory in character, the qualitative research strategy was used. As Bryman and Bell (2011) note, qualitative research gives particular attention to words rather than numbers in the gathering and interpretation of data. This study applied a modified ‘netnographic’ approach, a new qualitative method devised specifically to investigate consumer behaviour vis-à-vis cultures and communities present on the Internet (Kozinets 1998).

This study identifies three elements of practice: stalking, gossip, and exhibitionism. It also supports the idea stated by Echeverri & Skålén (2011) that there is no positive without a negative in interactive value formation. Although those authors’ work was focused on the provider-customer interface, the idea proves applicable to the online brand community (OBC) used for illustration in this study. The present study also draws attention to a vital characteristic of practice often forgotten: ‘Language’ as an enabler of all other elements (Whittington 2006). The paper contributes to the knowledge in the practice theory domain, and thus consumer culture, especially relating to OBCs.

When using OBCs as a marketing tool, considerable ingenuity must be employed by business managers to gain strategic information and feedback from online forum discussions. Such information can help in the company’s strategic decision making. By building relationships and gaining new customers through the process of collaboration, managers can become more like brand storytellers. Also, such communication can be channelled as a means to create greater awareness, both of the brand and the users’ experiences, along with aiding in the development of better services and products to meet customers’ needs. In the current study, consent was an ethical concern that limited the scope and path taken by the paper. The ten-week research period was another limiting factor in properly covering all of the contextualized consumption activities and gaining sufficient experience within the MSI community.

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