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Relationships in online communities: the potential for marketers

Sarah Quinton (The Business School, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)
Sally Harridge‐March (The Business School, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

ISSN: 2040-7122

Article publication date: 26 March 2010




The potential influence of consumer generated communication in the form of online discussion fora has been overlooked by marketers. The purpose of this paper to explore the content of discussion and the relationships between posters on social networks using the wine sector as the research basis.


The paper examines the current usage of discussion fora by wine enthusiasts through a netnographic approach. A non‐probability purposive sample of wine discussion fora in three countries is employed to determine the content and style of the contributions posted.


The paper indicates that individuals within fora develop relationships with each other, the network itself and brands. Such relationships are predicated on trust between members, shared interests and experiences and relationships with the brands that they discuss. These relationships can develop into strong bonds and even evolve into offline activities.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is an exploratory study with a sample limited to one product type and thus generalisation is difficult.

Practical implications

The paper outlines the strength and types of relationships between social network members. It demonstrates how netnography can provide insights into consumer behaviour and relationships between consumers and products. Marketers should consider the content of discussion fora as a valuable resource for learning about contemporary consumer communication and appreciate the power of peer‐to‐peer online relationships.


The paper uses a novel, but accepted, research method to discover useful insights into consumer perceptions and behaviour.



Quinton, S. and Harridge‐March, S. (2010), "Relationships in online communities: the potential for marketers", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 59-73.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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