The role of C2C relationships in B2B brand community - Case: Thinking Portfolio
School of Business | Master's thesis
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AbstractBrand communities are a phenomenon that has been studied mainly in the context of B2C companies. However, brand communities could offer large benefits also for B2B companies, especially as in B2B market long-term customer relationships are often in an important role. Relationships among the customers, the C2C relationships, are the most important relationship in a B2B brand community and the most important incentive for the brand community members to belong to the brand community. The purpose of the study is to explore the C2C relationships in the brand community of Thinking Portfolio. Thinking Portfolio is a Finnish B2B company, the main product of which is a project portfolio management tool. Thinking Portfolio customers consist of large international corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises and public sector organizations. The study aims to answer two research questions: (1) “What kind of C2C relationships there are in Thinking Portfolio brand community?” and (2) “What benefits Thinking Portfolio brand community members get from C2C relationships?”. In addition to answering these research questions, the study aims to find ways and suggestions on how Thinking Portfolio as a company could benefit from the brand community and develop it further. The research method used is a qualitative case study. The main data collection method is 10 semi-structured interviews of Thinking Portfolio customers. In addition to the interviews, previously written customer stories and a video recording of a presentation given by a customer at Thinking Portfolio User Day were analyzed. Also, observation was done in User Day 2018 event organized by Thinking Portfolio. The results of the study, first of all, indicate that there is a brand community around Thinking Portfolio, however it is quite loose and it does not include all Thinking Portfolio customers. Secondly, there are two kinds of C2C relationships in Thinking Portfolio brand community: C2C relationships inside customer organizations and C2C relationships among customer organizations. These relationships differ between different organizations regarding scope, quantity and mode. Thirdly, it was found out that C2C relationships create a lot of functional benefits, but only few experiential and symbolic benefits. Examples of the functional benefits that the brand community members receive from the C2C relationships are concrete practical tips, solutions to problems and new information and ideas. Suggestions for Thinking Portfolio were constructed from the findings of the research. They relate to virtual brand community, Round Table discussion events, recommendations to new customers, and seeing brand community as part of other operations.
Thesis advisorTikkanen, Henrikki
brand community, B2B company, B2B brand community, C2C relationship