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We do not live to buy: Why subcultures are different from brand communities and the meaning for marketing discourse

Hélène de Burgh‐Woodman (Department of Marketing, Monash University, Caufield East, Victoria, Australia)
Jan Brace‐Govan (Department of Marketing, Monash University, Caufield East, Victoria, Australia)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 26 June 2007

8857

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose is to investigate the concepts of subculture, subculture of consumption and brand community with a view to better understanding these three groups and their distinct differences.

Design/methodology/approach

The method relies on a literature review and a case study of sporting subculture. Using commentary from the surfing community as an example of subcultural groups we see how they define themselves against consumption oriented groups.

Findings

Subcultures are completely different from brand communities (or subcultures of consumption) and while they can be said to share certain common traits the broad philosophical foci of these two groups are vastly incommensurate with one another.

Practical implications

Marketing discourse has perpetually conflated subculture with forms of consumption, i.e. brand communities, yet they are different. By acknowledging and interrogating the key differences marketers may better apprehend the needs, character and activities of subcultural participants and market more strategically.

Originality/value

By dissecting the differences between subculture, subculture of consumption and brand community, this paper offers a re‐conceptualisation of these terms in marketing discourse. In doing so, this paper seeks to dispel some fundamental misapprehensions in marketing and offer an entirely fresh perspective on the value and meaning of subculture.

Keywords

Citation

de Burgh‐Woodman, H. and Brace‐Govan, J. (2007), "We do not live to buy: Why subcultures are different from brand communities and the meaning for marketing discourse", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 27 No. 5/6, pp. 193-207. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443330710757230

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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