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Influence and effectiveness of customer-to-customer interaction in online brand communities

  • School: Nottingham Business School
  • Starting: 2021
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Self-funded


Customer-to-customer (C2C) interactions can be pivotal to service experiences and to business performance (Harris et al. 2000; Heinonen et al. 2018; Hennig-Thurau et al. 2010; Nicholls 2010; Libai et al. 2010; Schau et al. 2009). .C2C interactions can occur face-to-face, such as in a queue at tourist attractions (Grove and Fisk 1997) or in a store (Harris et al. 1997; McGrath and Otnes 1995). They can occur online through eword-of-mouth (e.g. Libai et al. 2010) or in online brand communities (Brodie et al. 2013; Schau et al. 2009).

Online brand communities allow for C2C interactions and have benefits for firms, including a better understanding of customers through monitoring the information exchanged (Kozinets 2007), leading to customer loyalty (Thompson and Sinha 2008). Previous research shows that there are positive consequences from identification with online brand communities (Algesheimer et al. 2005; Thompson and Sinha 2008), they produce transformative experiences in members (Muniz and Schau 2005), and the customer-company identification that is often enhanced by online brand communities is the foundation for marketing relationships (Bhattacharya and Sen 2003). Schau et al. (2009) identify and organise brand community practices into four themes: (1) social networking (welcoming, empathising, governing), (2) impression management (evangelising, justifying), (3) community engagement (staking, milestoning, badging, documenting), and (4) brand use (grooming, customising, commoditising). Yet, there is still much to be understood about C2C interactions in online brand communities. A potential area of research is the influence and effectiveness of C2C interaction in online brand communities, including (1) the relationship between C2C interaction and the stages of relationship development, particularly the stages in which C2C interaction is most influential (Adjel et al. 2010) and (2) the C2C practices that are most likely to achieve significant value and under which conditions (Schau et al. 2009).

This project involves the study of practices in a variety of online brand communities using mixed methods and could include netnography, interviews, and surveys.


Adjei, M.T., Noble, S.M. and Noble, C.H., 2010. The influence of C2C communications in online brand communities on customer purchase behavior. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 38(5), pp. 634-653.

Algesheimer, R., Dholakia, U.M. and Herrmann, A., 2005. The social influence of brand community: Evidence from European car clubs. Journal of Marketing, 69(3), pp.19-34.

Brodie, R. J., Ilic, A., Juric, B., and Hollebeek, L., 2013. Consumer engagement in a virtual brand community: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Business Research, 66(1), pp. 105-114.

Grove, S. J., and Fisk, R. P., 1997. The impact of other customers on service experiences: A critical incident examination of “getting along”. Journal of Retailing, 73(1), pp. 63-85.

Harris, K., Baron, S., and Parker, C., 2000. Understanding the consumer experience: It's' good to talk'. Journal of Marketing Management, 16(1-3), pp. 111-127.

Harris, K., Davies, B. J., and Baron, S., 1997. Conversations during purchase consideration: Sales assistants and customers. The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 7(3), pp. 173-190.

Heinonen, K., Jaakkola, E., and Neganova, I., 2018. Drivers, types and value outcomes of customer-to-customer interaction: An integrative review and research agenda. Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 28(6), pp. 710-732.

Hennig-Thurau, T., Malthouse, E. C., Friege, C., Gensler, S., Lobschat, L., Rangaswamy, A., and Skiera, B., 2010. The impact of new media on customer relationships. Journal of Service Research, 13(3), pp. 311-330.

Kozinets, R.V., 2007. Brandthroposophy on Marketing, Media, and Technoculture. Pozyskano z: http://www.

Libai, B., Bolton, R., Bügel, M. S., De Ruyter, K., Götz, O., Risselada, H., and Stephen, A. T., 2010. Customer-to-customer interactions: Broadening the scope of word of mouth research. Journal of Service Research, 13(3), pp. 267-282.

McGrath, M. A., and Otnes, C., 1995. Unacquainted influencers: When strangers interact in the retail setting. Journal of Business Research, 32(3), pp. 261-272.

Muniz Jr, A.M. and Schau, H.J., 2005. Religiosity in the abandoned Apple Newton brand community. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(4), pp.737-747.

Nicholls, R., 2010. New directions for customer-to-customer interaction research. Journal of Services Marketing, 24(1), pp. 87-97.

Thompson, S.A. and Sinha, R.K., 2008. Brand communities and new product adoption: The influence and limits of oppositional loyalty. Journal of Marketing, 72(6), pp. 65-80.


Dr Linda Lee

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For more information please visit the NTU Doctoral School – Research Degrees webpages.

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Linda Lee