The Collective Consumer-Brand Relationship

Steven M. Kates, Simon Fraser University
ABSTRACT - This article theorizes about the collective consumer-brand relationship: a shared connection between a brand and a social collectivity (or interpretive community). Differential cultural competency among consumers allows them to inscribe brands with particularistic meanings and form collective relationships with them. Collective action frames, a type of interpretive strategy negotiated in social interaction, provide the means of connection among a collectivity of consumers to a brand. Frames inscribe brands with the collective beliefs, values, and social identities of an associated interpretive community. An ethnographic study of gay men was performed, discovering the cultural meanings associated with brands used by men in the gay community of a large North American city. A theoretical framework is advanced that links consumers’ brand interactions applying frames to brands, social processes that change collective consumption frames, and the collective brand relationships that result from application of the frames and occurrence of these social processes. Discussion includes implications for our understanding of realized positioning and the strategic space of brands.
[ to cite ]:
Steven M. Kates (2003) ,"The Collective Consumer-Brand Relationship", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, eds. Punam Anand Keller and Dennis W. Rook, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 159.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, 2003     Page 159

THE COLLECTIVE CONSUMER-BRAND RELATIONSHIP

Steven M. Kates, Simon Fraser University

ABSTRACT -

This article theorizes about the collective consumer-brand relationship: a shared connection between a brand and a social collectivity (or interpretive community). Differential cultural competency among consumers allows them to inscribe brands with particularistic meanings and form collective relationships with them. Collective action frames, a type of interpretive strategy negotiated in social interaction, provide the means of connection among a collectivity of consumers to a brand. Frames inscribe brands with the collective beliefs, values, and social identities of an associated interpretive community. An ethnographic study of gay men was performed, discovering the cultural meanings associated with brands used by men in the gay community of a large North American city. A theoretical framework is advanced that links consumers’ brand interactions applying frames to brands, social processes that change collective consumption frames, and the collective brand relationships that result from application of the frames and occurrence of these social processes. Discussion includes implications for our understanding of realized positioning and the strategic space of brands.

REFERENCE

Arnould, Eric J. (1998), "Daring Consumer Ethnography," in Representing Consumers: Voices, Views, and Visions, ed. Barbara B. Stern, New York: Routledge, 85-126.

Arnould, Eric J. and Melanie Wallendorf (1994), "Market-Oriented Ethnography: Interpretation Building and Marketing Strategy Formulation," Journal of Marketing Research, 31 (November), 484-504.

Bagozzi, Richard P. (2000), "On the Concept of Intentional Action in Consumer Behavior," Journal of Consumer Research, 27 (December), 388-396.

Benford, Robert D. and David A. Snow (2000), "Framing Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and Assessment," Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 611-639.

Fournier, Susan (1998), "Consumers and their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, 24 (March), 343-373.

Holt, Douglas B. (1997), "Poststructuralist Lifestyle Analysis: Conceptualizing the Social Patterning of Consumption in Postmodernity," Journal of Consumer Research, 23 (March), 326-350.

Kates, Steven M. (2000), "Out of the Closet and Out on the Street: Gay Men and

Kates, Steven M. (2001), "'Doing Brand and Subcultural Ethnographies’: Developing the Interpretive Community Concept in Consumer Research," paper presented at the 2001 Association for Consumer Research Conference, Austin, Texas, USA.

Kozinets, Robert (2001), "Utopian Enterprise: Articulating the Meanings of Star Trek’s Culture of Consumption," Journal of Consumer Research, 28 (June), 67-88 .

McAlexander, James, John Schouten and Harold Koenig (2002), "Building Brand Community,"Journal of Marketing, 66 (January), 38-54.

Muniz, Albert and Thomas C. O’Guinn (2001), "Brand Community," Journal of Consumer Research, 27 (March), 412-432.

O’Donohoe, Stephanie (1994), "Advertising Uses and Gratifications," European Journal of Marketing," 28 (8/9), 52-75.

Reis, Harry T. and Phillip Shaver (1988), "Intimacy as an Interpersonal Process," in Handbook of Personal Relationships, ed. Steve Duck, New York: Wiley, 367-389.

Ritson, Mark and Elliott, Richard (1999), "The Social Uses of Advertising: An Ethnographic Study of Adolescent Advertising Audiences," Journal of Consumer Research, 26 (December), 260-277.

Schouten, John W. and James H. McAlexander (1995), "Subcultures of Consumption: An Ethnography of the New Bikers," Journal of Consumer Research, 22 (June), 43-61.

----------------------------------------