Yash Bhatia

Community building: the why and how to

Community is a strong brand asset. Several brands are already experimenting with this concept that can increase loyalty, lower marketing costs and become a revenue-generating channel.

Marketing guru Margaret J. Wheatley once said: “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” 

Brands know the advantages of community marketing that it can create a sense of trust among customers.

The purpose of having a brand community is to showcase brand loyalty. Customers in a community get emotionally invested, as they buy products from the company. They are exposed to the content from the brand and its community, and finally do the brand’s bidding by recommending it to their friends and family. 

Be it boAtheads, the Mi Community, iQOO Connect or WeDaMen from DaMensch, every brand across categories is trying to build an exclusive community of brand loyalists. Some other examples include the Samsung Members Community. OnePlus runs a community app which gives one access to the company's news, forums and social features. Harley Owners Club brings fans together, and organises events and meetups all over the globe.

Community building: the why and how to

DaMensch recently launched #WeDaMen, a community of creators/men who are comfortable with their body image. Deepti Karthik, senior vice president marketing, DaMensch, says, “We’re looking to celebrate men who are comfortable in their own skin, without the barrier of age, religion or ethnicity. It's a community of men who value/appreciate each other, and accept other men the way they are.” 

While creating demand for a product or service is at the core of the marketing function, the first stage of the purchase starts with educating the consumers about the product/category. That is where communities play a role. 

Community building: the why and how to

On why brands want to create a community, Ramya Ramachandran, founder & CEO, Whoppl, mentions, “The brand purpose to start a community is to bring like-minded people together under one roof.  In today’s world, it becomes important to build a community of people who can speak on behalf of your brand, a group of loyalists who can push the brand through the clutter via genuine conversation around the brand.”

“The purpose of starting a community is to create word of mouth, through which the brand can be introduced to a wider audience via personal recommendations. Through this, the brand is creating cheerleaders who can take the brand forward,” Ramachandran adds.

In the community, word of mouth can act as a growth driver for a brand. It represents brand promotion, which is mainly driven by the experience and stories of the customers around the product. Some examples include product recommendations, reviews and customer photos.

Is the community fuelling the revenue?

In the digital world, the pace of communication is changing drastically. Brands are looking for content that can foster relationships with the customers, and drive meaningful conversations between them and their communities.

iQOO Connect is a platform that allows users to collaborate, learn about innovation, share feedback, create experiences and connect with the brand more closely. It provides latest company updates, sale alerts, exclusive offers and invitations to special events, etc.

Community building: the why and how to

Nipun Marya, CEO, iQOO India, states, “Our community is bringing up Gen Z and millennials. The focus is to calibrate community platform and create an experience for each of our users. Eventually, all this will be linked to the revenue stream and help in building a community with our loyalists.”

Communities aren’t directly linked to the revenue stream. The foundation on which a community is built, is trust and common experience. If that purpose is solved, then the community will automatically drive the revenue stream, as there is a sense of trust involved with the customers.

Community building: the why and how to

Brands should be cautious about building communities, as per experts. Rajni Daswani, director - digital marketing, SoCheers, says, “A successful community can be built, if a customer thinks there is something special for them either through offers, early access of the products or a test market to launch a new product. They need to feel special or valued.”

Citing an example, Daswani says, “I’m a part of leap.club, a women-centric community. I was one of the first members of the community. At that time, one had to pay an annual fee to be a part of leap.club. Since I was a member of the community from the very beginning, the annual fee has now been waived off. This is how my relationship was valued over others.”

“Right now, many brands are building communities for the sake of it. Customers will eventually be put off if they don’t find any value in it.”

“Continuous engagement at every touch point is important. Take Amazon Prime Video, for instance. It usually organises a special screening of new shows for its members, rather than involving any celebrity/influencer. This can become a customer experience program. Many brands conduct offline events, where they call the members, who will vouch for them every time or when required,” adds Daswani.

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