Mark Mills, University of Leeds
Magnus Hultman, University of Leeds
Aristeidis Theotokis, University of Leeds
27 July 2018

It was great to be invited to the 2018 Global Marketing Conference in Tokyo.  It presented me with an amazing opportunity to explore one of the most interesting cities in the world.  I made the most of the trip and experienced a huge amount of what the city had to offer including food, fireworks and baseball (I am now a full-on Yakult Swallows fan for life).  I also ventured out of the city and summited Mt Fuji for the sunrise, a moment I won’t forget for a long time.

The conference was also a great event with plenty of insightful research and great networking opportunities.  I was lucky enough to be able to present my paper (short abstract below) which was well received and may have sparked some future international research collaborations.

Enjoy the paper and it would be great to hear your thoughts on my findings and whether they will have a practical impact for you.


Global Marketing Conference 2018 - Tokyo


Brand communities have been hailed as an effective technique for marketers to develop relationships between their brands and consumers, with the ultimate goal to create and sustain brand loyalty.  The majority of theoretical assertions regarding brand communities are underpinned by the use of social identity theory (Tajfel, 1982).  Social identity theory posits that individuals have a need to construct and display a ‘self-concept’ and a strategy to communicate this is the process of identification with groups.  As the focus of a brand community is the brand itself it is clear that brand community identification and brand identification must be correlated, but little research has explored this relationship or its effects.  This study aimed to fill a gap within the knowledge by further exploring the relationship between brand identification and brand community identification by providing more insight into the role which an individuals’ identification with a brand community (Muniz and O’Guinn, 2001) has within their relationship with the focal brand and their loyalty to that brand.  Specifically, this research looked to gain a greater understanding of the different effect brand community identification had upon the relationship between brand identification and both public and private brand loyalty.

This was explored through the utilisation of a survey of fans of a professional basketball team within the UK (n=298).  The data and subsequent analysis supported the hypotheses that individuals’ brand community identification has a positive relationship with both public and private forms of brand loyalty.  More importantly, it also presented brand community identification as a mediator in the relationship between brand identification and public brand loyalty.

Therefore, this study is the first to present brand community identification as critical within consumers’ development of publicly displayed brand loyalty.  Managerially this understanding provides support for the proactive utilisation of brand communities by marketers.  It also provides guidance for the context in which brand communities are critical for the success of the brand.  This research delivers support for marketers, to utilise brand communities proactively when trying to motivate consumers to participate in publicly displayed pro-brand behaviour.  This defends the re-allocation of budget away from pure brand identification activities to brand community engagement strategies.

Keywords: Brand Community, Brand Loyalty, Brand Identification, Social Identity

References available upon request