The importance of virtual brand communities is growing day by day as a result of consumers increasingly using online tools to contact fellow consumers in order to get information on which to base their decisions. For this reason, this work aims to explore some of the effects of participation in a virtual brand community on consumer behaviour.
The paper proposes the positive effects of participation in a virtual community on both consumer trust and loyalty to the product, brand or organisation around which the community is developed. In addition, it also proposes a positive effect of trust on consumer loyalty. After the validations of measurement scales, the hypotheses are contrasted through structural modelling.
The data, obtained through a web survey using members of several free software virtual communities, show that participation in the activities carried out in a virtual community may foster consumer trust and loyalty to the mutual interest of the community (the free software in this case). In addition, the study also found a positive and significant effect of consumer trust on loyalty.
Data were collected thanks to a web survey using Spanish‐speaking subjects.
The high costs every company has to face in order to get new customers make it increasingly necessary to reinforce the ties established with customers. In this respect, this study has shown that managers may foster consumer trust and loyalty by developing virtual brand communities and promoting consumers' participation in them.
Most of the works that are focused on virtual communities have been conducted at the conceptual level. Thus, with the aim of moving on this topic, this study analyses empirically the effects of participation in a virtual brand community on consumer behaviour.
Casaló, L., Flavián, C. and Guinalíu, M. (2007), "The impact of participation in virtual brand communities on consumer trust and loyalty: The case of free software", Online Information Review, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 775-792. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684520710841766
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited