Journal of Brand Management

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 457–471 | Cite as

Blogging the brand: Meaning transfer and the case of Weight Watchers’ online community

  • Erin Willis
  • Ye Wang
Original Article


Brand communities are becoming increasingly popular online. The current study examines the Weight Watchers online brand community to understand the role consumer engagement plays in shaping brand meaning and how brand meaning is transferred through computer-mediated content. Social and cultural meanings are discussed. Practical implications for brand strategies are included and also how to engage consumers with content delivered through online communities.


online community online engagement branding brand meaning strategic communication 


  1. Adjei, M., Noble, S. and Noble, C. (2010) The influence of C2C communications in online brand communities on customer purchase behavior. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 38 (5): 634–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, J. and Moore, S. (2008) Blogging as a social tool: A psychosocial examination of the effects of blogging. CyberPsychology & Behavior 11 (6): 747–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batra, R., Lehmann, D. and Singh, D. (2013) The brand personality component of brand goodwill: Some antecedents and consequences. In: D. Aaker and A.L. Biel (eds.) Brand Equity and Advertising: Advertising’s Role in Building Strong Brands. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 83–96.Google Scholar
  4. Berger, A.A. (1998) Media Research Techniques. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, J., Broderick, A.J. and Lee, N. (2007) Word of mouth communication within online communities: Conceptualizing the online social network. Journal of Interactive Marketing 21 (3): 2–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Casalo, L.V., Flavian, C. and Guinaliu, M. (2010) Relationship quality, community promotion and brand loyalty in virtual communities: Evidence from free software communities. International Journal of Information Management 30 (4): 357–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Catalano, C.S. (2007) Megaphones to the internet and the world: The role of blogs in corporate communications. International Journal of Strategic Communication 1 (4): 247–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cheung, C.M., Lee, M.K. and Rabjohn, N. (2008) The impact of electronic word-of-mouth: The adoption of online opinions in online customer communities. Internet Research 18 (3): 229–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cho, H. and Lee, J.S. (2008) Collaborative information seeking in intercultural computer-mediated communication groups: Testing the influence of social context using social network analysis. Communication Research 35 (4): 548–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen, J. (1960) A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement 20 (1): 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cornwell, T.B. and Smith, R.K. (2001) The communications importance of consumer meaning in cause-linked events: Findings from a US event for benefiting breast cancer research. Journal of Marketing Communications 7 (4): 213–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Escalas, J.E. and Bettman, J.R. (2005) Self-construal, reference groups, and brand meaning. Journal of Consumer Research 32 (3): 378–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fernback, J. (2007) Beyond the diluted community concept: A symbolic interactionist perspective on online social relations. New Media & Society 9 (1): 49–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Culture: Selected Essays. Vol. 5019. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Goh, K.Y., Heng, C.S. and Lin, Z. (2013) Social media brand community and consumer behavior: Quantifying the relative impact of user-and-marketer-generated content. Information Systems Research 24 (1): 88–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gwinner, K. (1997) A model of image creation and image transfer in event sponsorship. International Marketing Review 14 (3): 145–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hsu, M.H., Ju, T.L., Yen, C.H. and Chang, C.M. (2007) Knowledge sharing behavior in virtual communities: The relationship between trust, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 65 (2): 153–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hwang, K.O. et al. (2010) Social support in an internet weight loss community. International Journal of Medical Informatics 79 (1): 5–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jang, H., Olfman, L., Ko, I., Koh, J. and Kim, K. (2008) The influence of online brand community characteristics on community commitment and brand loyalty. International Journal of Electronic Commerce 12 (3): 57–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kim, J.W., Choi, J., Qualls, W. and Han, K. (2008) It takes a marketplace community to raise brand commitment: The role of online communities. Journal of Marketing Management 24 (3–4): 409–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kozinets, R.V., De Valck, K., Wojnicki, A.C. and Wilner, S.J. (2010) Networked narratives: Understanding word-of-mouth marketing in online communities. Journal of Marketing 74 (2): 71–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Laroche, M., Habibi, M.R., Richard, M.O. and Sankaranarayanan, R. (2012) The effects of social media based brand communities on brand community markers, value creation practices, brand trust and brand loyalty. Computers in Human Behavior 28 (5): 1755–1767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lee, H. and Lee, J. (2010) Computer-mediated communication network: Exploring the linkage between online community and social capital. New Media & Society 12 (5): 711–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lee, M. and Youn, S. (2009) Electronic word of mouth (eWOM): How eWOM platforms influence consumer product judgment. International Journal of Advertising 28 (3): 473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marketdata Research (2012) U.S. weight loss market forecast to hit $66 billion in 2013,, accessed 2 December 2014.
  26. Martin, K. and Todorov, I. (2010) How will digital platforms be harnessed in 2010, and how will they change the way people interact with brands? Journal of Interactive Advertising 10 (2): 61–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McCracken, G. (1986) Culture and consumption: A theoretical account of the structure and movement of the cultural meaning of consumer goods. Journal of Consumer Research 13 (1): 71–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McCracken, G. (1989) Who is the celebrity endorser? Cultural foundations of the endorsement process. Journal of Consumer Research 16 (3): 310–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McKee, A. (2003) Textual Analysis: A Beginner’s Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Men, L.R. and Tsai, W.H.S. (2013) Beyond liking or following: Understanding public engagement on social networking sites in China. Public Relations Review 39 (1): 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Miles, M.B. and Huberman, A.M. (1984) Qualitative Data Analysis: A Sourcebook of New Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  32. Muniz Jr., A.M. and O’Guinn, T.C. (2001) Brand community. Journal of Consumer Research 27 (4): 412–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Muntinga, D.G., Moorman, M. and Smit, E.G. (2011) Introducing COBRAs: Exploring motivations for brand-related social media use. International Journal of Advertising 30 (1): 13–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Parks, M.R. and Floyd, K. (1996) Making friends in cyberspace. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 1 (4):
  35. Preece, J. (2001) Sociability and usability in online communities: Determining and measuring success. Behavior & Information Technology 20 (5): 347–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Prendergast, G., Ko, D. and Siu Yin, V.Y. (2010) Online word of mouth and consumer purchase intentions. International Journal of Advertising 29 (5): 687–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Robichaud, F., Richelieu, A. and Kozak, R. (2012) Branding as a communications strategy: A framework for desired brand identity. Journal of Brand Management 19 (8): 712–734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ryan, G.W. (1999) Measuring the typicality of text: Using multiple coders for more than just reliability and validity checks. Human Organization 58 (3): 313–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schembri, S. (2009) Reframing brand experience: The experiential meaning of Harley-Davidson. Journal of Business Research 62 (12): 1299–1310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schindler, R.M. and Bickart, B. (2005) Published word of mouth: Referable, consumer-generated information on the Internet. In: C.P. Haugtvedt, K.A. Machleit and R. Yalch (eds.) Online Consumer Psychology: Understanding and Influencing Consumer Behavior in the Virtual World. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 32–58.Google Scholar
  41. Schummer, T. and Lukosch, S. (2013) Patterns for Computer-Mediated Interaction. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  42. Stokburger-Sauer, N. (2010) Brand community: Drivers and outcomes. Psychology & Marketing 27 (4): 347–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tidwell, L.C. and Walther, J.B. (2002) Computer-mediated communication effects on disclosure, impressions, and interpersonal evaluations: Getting to know one another a bit at a time. Human Communication Research 28 (3): 317–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. U.S. News & World Report (2014) What you need to know: US best diets,, accessed 2 February 2015.
  45. Walther, J.B. (1996) Computer-mediated communication impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research 23 (1): 3–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wang, Y., Qiao, F. and Peng, W. (2015) Is the size or the valence of proactive engagement associated with purchase intention?: A case study of Starbucks’ blogs. International Journal of Strategic Communication 9 (3): 197–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wang, Y., Willis, E. and Rodgers, S. (2014) Consumer insights from peer-to-peer communication in an online health community of weight management. Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet 18 (2): 143–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Webb, T., Joseph, J., Yardley, L. and Michie, S. (2010) Using the internet to promote health behavior change: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of theoretical basis, use of behavior change techniques, and mode of deliver on efficacy. Journal of Medical Internet Research 12 (1): e4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Writz, J., Ramaseshan, B., van de Klundert, J., Canli, Z.G. and Kandampully, J. (2013) Managing brands and customers engagement in online brand communities. Journal of Service Management 24 (3): 223–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yeh, Y.H. and Choi, S.M. (2011) MINI-lovers, maxi-mouths: An investigation of antecedents to eWOM intention among brand community members. Journal of Marketing Communications 17 (3): 145–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zhou, T. (2011) Understanding online community user participation: A social influence perspective. Internet Research 21 (1): 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhou, Z., Zhang, Q., Su, C. and Zhou, N. (2012) How do brand communities generate brand relationships? Intermediate mechanisms. Journal of Business Research 65 (7): 890–895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin Willis
    • 1
  • Ye Wang
  1. 1.Department of AdvertisingPublic Relations and Media Design, University of Colorado – BoulderBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations