The influence of online brand communities on brand purchase decisions in South Africa .
One of the most revolutionising changes in the world in recent history has, undoubtedly, to be the invention of the internet. It has impacted the way people communicate and has had a tremendous impact on the way firms conduct their businesses. It has given rise to much higher levels of connectedness and social interaction which has had significant impact on the way companies market themselves and interact with their consumers. One such opportunity for companies to engage with consumers more closely is that of the online brand community. This study sought to understand what factors are at play motivating consumers to participate in online brand communities, and how online brand community participation subsequently influences the consumer’s purchase decision process. The literature review suggested that the brand community concept has been extensively researched, however, its effect on the consumer purchase decision process had not. This research employed a quantitative approach with data being collected via a structured online questionnaire and analysed using factor and regression analysis. The findings of the study rejected the framework proposed by the literature review but demonstrated that there were four factors, namely brand loyalty, brand community identification, brand image and information gathering that were significant in influencing the purchase process of a brand community member. The study also showed a demographic profile that was much younger and highly skewed to the male gender. Although this research is relatively new in the South African context, it may add significant value to the bodies of knowledge in the brand community and consumer behaviour categories. It provides key insights to firms, brand community owners and consumers alike in understanding how purchase decisions may be affected in the online brand community platform. Finally, it provides a good starting point for further research to be conducted on the relationship between the online brand community and the consumer purchase decision process
Marketing -- Technological innovations,Consumer behavior -- South Africa,Brand choice -- South Africa, Social media -- South Africa. ,