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Relationships and online consumer communities

Farquhar, Jillian and Rowley, Jennifer (2006) Relationships and online consumer communities. Business Process Management Journal, 12 (2). pp. 162-177. ISSN 1758-4116

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Abstract: Purpose – To explore, through a case study approach, relationship and community development in online consumer communities. Design/methodology/approach – A case study-based analysis of three organizations that are supporting online community creation and development is used as the basis for grounded theory development. Two of these organizations, the Consumers Association, and Emerald Group Publishing Limited, are publishers, and are building on established community. The third case study, Letsbuyit.com seeks to bring together a consumer community in pursuit of the good deals with suppliers. Online communities are analysed in terms of relationships, including the nature and types of relationships, the role of value creation and commitment, customer-to-customer interaction, and relationship lifecycles. Findings – These case studies demonstrate that whilst communication, content and commerce are often associated with consumer online communities, each e-business needs to develop its own model of community building activities. Originality/value – Commercial organizations need to translate customer relationships that have been created in traditional business environments into the virtual marketplace, and to use online communities to strengthen these relationships. This paper contributes to the limited empirical research in this area, and provides some models, and an agenda for future research into online consumer communities.

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