Attitudinal segmentation and loyalty of retailer online community users

DP Hampson, Peter McGoldrick, K Nanakida

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Over the past decade, online communities have been discussed in terms of their utility to facilitate new product development (e.g., Füller et al., 2004), and word of mouth marketing (Kozinets et al., 2010) and as a marketing research tool (Pitta and Fowler, 2005). However, only a very limited amount of research has been conducted that attempts to segment users of online communities. Instead, it has been commonly assumed that a community is comprised of individuals that share a large degree of homogeneity in their attitudes and preferences (e.g., Muiniz and O’Guinn, 2001). However, evidence from studies of the broader construct of brand communities has highlighted that there is a greater amount of heterogeneity between members than some conceptualizations permit (Ouwersloot and Odekerken-Schröder, 2008). However very few of papers exist that identify structure and implications of this heterogeneity in the more specific context of online brand communities.Hence, the purpose of this study is to address the following research questions:1. Does a managerially and theoretically meaningful typology of online community members exist, based upon attitudes towards key online community attributes?2. Do these segments differ in terms of key measures of brand loyalty and consumer demographics?A survey was administered by an online panel provider. Panel members qualified for the survey only if they belong to at least one online community dedicated to a retailer. A useable sample of 301 was obtained, with designated quotas of key demographic variables, such as gender and age, in order to make the sample as representative as possible of major groups within the consumer population. Respondents were segmented (using k-means cluster analysis) based upon their attitudes towards key online community characteristics: quality of information, rewards, ease of interaction, and sense of belonging. These groups were then profiled using several indicators of consumer loyalty and key demographic and socio-economic variables.The cluster analysis highlighted four segments of online community members: Information Seekers, Neutral Users, Delighted Members and Visitors. Managerially significant inter-cluster differences are evident in a number of important ways, including in terms of attitudes, loyalty, and consumers’ demographics. Online communities are hence more complex than might have been perceived and there are potentially many important strategic consequences of this heterogeneity. Managerial implications of this typology are discussed which, ultimately, reflect that firms need to understand the composition of the users of online communities focused upon their stores/brands.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
EventAcademy of Marketing Science Annual Conference - New Orleans
Duration: 15 May 201219 May 2012


ConferenceAcademy of Marketing Science Annual Conference
CityNew Orleans


  • Segmentation, attitudes, online communities


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