Virtual Communities: A Marketing Perspective

K. DE VALCK, G. van Bruggen, B. Wierenga

Decision Support Systems

June 2009, vol. 47, n°3, pp.185-203

Departments: Marketing, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Consumer decision process, Interpersonal influence, Marketing, Netnography, Virtual communities of consumption, Virtual community members, Virtual community participation word-of-mouth

Increasingly, consumers interact through the Internet to share their knowledge, experiences, and opinions. Consequently, 'word-of-mouse' has become a significant market force that influences consumer decision-making. On the basis of extensive quantitative and qualitative research, the authors sketch how consumers make use of virtual communities as social and information networks, and how this affects their decision-making processes. We present three studies that address (i) determinants and effects of virtual community influence on the consumer decision process; (ii) virtual community participation patterns; and (iii) discussion practices of the most active community members. Key implications for managers, marketers, and market researchers are discussed.Keywords: Consumer decision process; Interpersonal influence; Marketing; Netnography; Virtual communities of consumption; Virtual community members; Virtual community participation; Word-of-mouth