F1: Social Media Retail Branding: the Collective and Community Medium

The Social Media Retail Brand: Retail is going to flip onto itself and being oriented both online and offline around the collective and community medium. There are a lot of factors that are driving this but three are prominent for me:

  1. The explosion of ubiquitous technologies: smartphone, smart device etc. It just puts the store front anywhere, anytime.
  2. Proliferation of channels on and offline: retailers and their customers can interact and communicate many ways. What ever suits the context of the desired retail experience. being a combination of the planned controlled and random ambiguous.
  3. Customer control: What is control? Well for customers it is that holistic experience of “I decide”. Who, Where, When and How. It is even to the point where price is dictated.

This should not come as much of a surprise but I have been surprised how slow some retailers have been to embrace the collective and community context of their brand. The lack of momentum is largely driven by being uncomfortable with the lack of control. I can understand this. However, one needs to ask: Do you have control over word of mouth offline? Not really. So…?

Some recent work we have done on the social media brand builds from previous work on online retail service branding and product branding online.

This current work has been with Inna Piven and Michael Breazeale. This recent work has been published (2014) in the Journal of Retail and Consumer Services [more]. The emergence of social media is challenging the ways that retailers think about and manage brands. This research explores the consumers’ specific motivations for the purpose and structure of the consumption of brands in social media community. Keeping the evolving economic relevance of social consumption in mind, the resulting conceptual model has been designed to give a better understanding of the unique branding opportunities and relationships that social media present to brand managers. The research employs a triangulated method that includes a social media-based Facebook focus group and face-to-face interviews. The findings suggest that consumers expect some very specific two-way interactions with brands and that social media may be the only way to effectively deliver these demands. This study identifies five core drivers of brand consumption in a social media community articulated in the Five Sources Model: functional, emotional, self-oriented, social and relational. These core drivers represent unique opportunities for brands to enhance their relationships with their customers and to increase the likelihood of an active and beneficial online community built around their brands.


  1. Davis, R.A. Piven, I., and M Breazeale (2014). A Conceptual Model of Consumers Service Brand Consumption in Social Media Community, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 21/4, pp. 468-481.
  2. Davis, R.A. and Sajtos, L. (2008), “Measuring Consumer Interactivity in Response to Campaigns Coupling Mobile and Television Media.” Journal of Advertising Research 48 (3): 375–391.
  3. Davis, R.A. and Yung, D. (2005), Understanding the Interactivity Between Mobile Commerce and Television Environments, Communications of the ACM, July 48 (7): 103–105.
  4. Danaher, P.J. Wilson, I.W. and R. A. Davis, (2003), A Comparison of Online and Offline Consumer Brand Loyalty, Marketing Science, 22 (4): 461–476. [ABDC Ranking: A*]
    18. Davis, R.A., Buchanan–Oliver, M. and Brodie R. J. (2000), “Retail Service Branding in Electronic–Commerce Environments”, Journal of Service Research, 3(2), 178–186.
  5. Social Media Branding by Robert Davis and Inna Piven.


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