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Constructing Loyalty in an Online Music Community

OBIEGBU, CHINEDU,JAMES (2018) Constructing Loyalty in an Online Music Community. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The sustained centrality of brand loyalty in marketing theory and practice, the growing relevance of community in brand and marketing discourse, and the necessity of knowledge that is valid at the level of the consumers’ lived experience have prompted the need for research that examines the relationship between loyalty and community especially as it relates to art and cultural brands broadly, and music in particular. This study set out to explore how loyalty is constructed and given meaning within the context of an online music community. In doing so the study engages with a range of literatures from marketing, sociology, fan studies and popular music studies. Drawing on the notion of fandom, an experiential view that highlights the symbolic and meaning-based aspects of brand loyalty is utilized along with the notion of the ‘circuit of culture’. An online community, dedicated to music b(r)and, U2, served as the research context. The study adopts a broadly ethnographic approach while also employing methods and techniques drawn from discourse analysis. This enabled the merging of the systematic observation of discourses within the selected fan community, with direct contact with its social actors. Data was collected using participant observation, observation ethnography and interviews with fans. Three analysis chapters, respectively, deal with the discursive resources utilized by music fans in constructing loyalty; the collective negotiation of different ways of being loyal and of expressing loyalty within the group; and the role of loyal fan engagement within the context of community in constructing the brand’s story. Taken together, the three analysis chapters present a picture of how music fans construct loyalty, and other associated meanings and tensions involved in the consumption of an artist brand. The implications of the findings for the theory of brand loyalty and music consumption are then drawn out. By situating the study of loyalty within the context of community, and taking a fine-grained discursive approach to loyalty, the study highlights the group construction of preferences, value systems and meanings that frame loyal behaviour. The meaning-based perspective taken also highlights the socio-cultural underpinnings of brand loyalty for music fans and consumers.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Brand Loyalty; Music; Consumer Behaviour
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Economics, Finance and Business, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 May 2018 14:09

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