This paper aims to present the virtual community as a strategy that can increase the chance of success in the distribution of products over the internet.
First, this paper describes the concept of a virtual community. Second, it analyzes how five well‐known companies are using virtual communities to back up the distribution of their products over the internet. Following the study of the various companies, the additional benefits arising from the use of virtual communities are explained and a series of recommendations for managing them.
Through the conceptual analysis of the virtual community and the descriptive study of five real cases of companies that use the virtual community in their online marketing strategies, this paper shows, among other things, how it is possible to attain greater brand awareness, more precise market segmentation and the highest degree of supply differentiation.
Virtual community is a tool that can increase the chances of success in the marketing and distribution of products over the internet. Therefore, there are several lines of research that might be followed in the future. Foremost among these might be a study that gives rise to a quantitative assessment of the impact of virtual communities. A thorough assessment of the effect of virtual communities on various sectors will also be needed. Thus, the study of the virtual community as a knowledge management system in the corporate or educational fields would be particularly useful.
The case studies and the recent literature have enabled us to define various management recommendations, such as promoting self‐management of virtual communities, minimizing control or promoting specialization of their members.
This work thoroughly examines one of the phenomena that is reaping the most success on the internet and yet, paradoxically, has received the least attention from marketing researchers: virtual communities.
Flavián, C. and Guinalíu, M. (2005), "The influence of virtual communities on distribution strategies in the internet", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 405-425. https://doi.org/10.1108/09590550510600843
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited