The purpose of this paper is to: analyze the effect of trust and affect toward a brand community on the commitment of brand communities; and investigate the mechanism through which the commitment of a brand community is able to increase various loyalty behaviors (e.g. repurchase intentions, positive word‐of‐mouth, and constructive complaints).
In order to test the hypotheses, a total of 200 Chinese female online brand community users were sampled, specifically users who had been active in the online brand community for over a year, and Partial Least Squares (PLS) analysis was performed.
The results identified the significant positive paths: brand community trust → brand community commitment; brand community affect → brand community commitment; and brand community commitment → brand loyalty behaviors. In addition brand community commitment was found to play a mediating role in the relationships between brand community trust/affect and brand loyalty. Finally, brand community commitment was seen to have a stronger effect on word‐of‐mouth than on constructive complaints.
This study demonstrates the need to elaborate the brand community commitment construct. Specifically, attention to the underlying dimensions of commitment should identify more dynamic relationships among trust/affect, brand community commitment, and brand loyalty behaviors.
Marketing executives and brand managers who are considering customer loyalty improvement strategies must understand the value of managing an online brand community effectively. The findings of this study suggest significant ways to increase brand loyalty behaviors, particularly for brands seeking to broaden their appeal in the female Chinese market.
In contrast with the existing studies dealing with community commitment as an attitudinal antecedent of brand loyalty, this study empirically tested the mediating role of community commitment based on Baron and Kenny's logic. Moreover, the mediation was found to have a differential effect, namely a partial mediation for the relationships community trust‐repurchase intention/WOM but a full mediation for the relationship brand community affect‐constructive complaint.
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