Marketing to communities

Letitia Hristodorescu, Radu Dimitriu and Simon Knox
UM London and Cranfield School of Management

Targeting communities can allow brands to tap into groups of like-minded and motivated individuals for brand-building and advocacy.

Marketing to communities refers to the shift in companies' focus from appealing to a general mass-market level toward greater involvement with communities of consumption. These communities are groups of people with common consumption patterns resulting from similar interests and concerns. They can be formed around action sports (e.g. skateboarders or surfers), music genres (e.g. ravers or hipsters), common hobbies such as travelling (e.g. CouchSurfing), or around brands (e.g. Harley- Davidson Owners' Group, communities of Lego enthusiasts).

Recent practice and research has shown that community-oriented marketing can be a powerful tool for branding relevant products and building relationships with community members. With this in mind, some businesses are now designing marketing strategies using cross-promotions, active sponsorships, and brand awareness activities applied to communities. Examples include sportswear brands like Salomon, Nike 6.0 and Quiksilver that, as part of their strategies, build their identity around action sports communities such as snowboarding, skateboarding or surfing and their practitioners' lifestyles.