This paper aims to set out to demonstrate the need for an integrated model that was titled, after the famous optical illusion (Hill, 1915), “Like My Wife and Mother-in-Law”, addressing three prevalent definitions of consumers’ communities: subculture, neo-tribe and brand community. It shows how it is only the use made of insights gleaned from all three that can faithfully describe the world of local and global meanings found in a computer game-based consumer community of children.
The analysis relies on a semiotic analysis of this computer game’s contents as well as on information obtained by a way of ethnography performed among group members, 9-11-year-olds. The combination of methods proves appropriate in tackling this model’s complexity, allowing to describe the interaction offered by the game, and the type of conduct attending it, online as well as offline.
Like the optical illusion where one can see two images in a single picture, this analysis shows that the participant children demonstrate complex, conflictual attitudes to the website’s effort to market subscriptions and products. Despite the game’s high popularity among children, a tension was identified between developers’ intentions and the game’s nature in practice.
Previous works seek to describe the experience of a given consumer community by opting for one of the three definitions. Unlike this approach, the author intends to show how the three-dimensional model offers a richer view of the consumers’ experience. Communicating this view may also prevent marketing misguided approaches when targeting consumer communities, based on a single-dimensional characterization of audiences.
The author wishes to express his gratitude to the Research Authority of the College of Management Academic Studies, Rishon LeZion, Israel, for their financial support of this research.
Levin, D. (2016), "Like “My Wife and Mother-in-Law”: Mikmak and the need to assign a three-dimensional definition for groups of children-consumers", Young Consumers, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 350-362. https://doi.org/10.1108/YC-05-2016-00600
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