Segmenting fan communities: Toward a taxonomy for researchers and industry
Exploring the rise of fandom in contemporary consumer culture
School of Business and Law
Extending decades of marketing and psychological research, industry and academic circles attempt to label brand community behaviours, borrowing analogies from subcultures such as religion (evangelists), slang (mavens, haters), technology and science fiction (fanboys), and other sciences (alpha, opinion leaders). Although sometimes used as generic terms, upon examination via an integrative literature review, these and other such commonly used fandom and brand community member labels, can define the spectrum of brand fandom in a specific way—through narrative, metaphor and cross-cultural labelling. Such labelling is happening already; this chapter parses out the meaning of one label from another into a proposed folk taxonomy, or classification system developed by those steeped in the culture. This segmentation enables theoretical research into specific fan types and possible opinion leaders, along with industry recommendations for approaching each segment based on the behavioural characteristic inherent in both the historic and common usage of the word.