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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Why do children join online brand communities? An exegesis of social, interpersonal and familial motivations

Published: May 27, 2020


Robert Thomas, University of South Wales ; Gareth White , University of South Wales ; Anthony Samuel, Cardiff University


Children; Online Brand Community ; Event Diaries


Research on the motivation of 7–11-year-olds to engage with online brand communities (OBCs) is limited. Prior studies focus on prescriptive product categories (games and gaming), adolescent groups and behaviour within OBCs rather than motivations to join OBCs. To fill this gap an interpretive approach was used, with 261 children completing event-based diaries over 12 months. Data indicates that children join OBCs to support and ameliorate pre-purchase anxieties, resolve interpersonal conflicts, exact social dominance in terms of product ownership/knowledge and engage in digitalised pester power. Certain motivational aspects, such as conflict resolution and exacting dominance, are shown to be gender specific. The unique and unconventional behaviours identified will assist brand managers to understand further the relationships children have with brands and OBCs. Four new behavioural categories of community engagement are posited: Dependers, Defusers, Demanders and Dominators.