Brand community practices of the BMW Electronauts.

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Drawing from practice theory, this study examines the online brand community comprised of BMW ActiveE electric vehicle field trial drivers, dubbed the Electronauts. In-depth interviews were also conducted to explore the Electronaut experience and the extent to which BMW communicated with and designed the activities of the community. The brand community thrived with very little contact or investment from the company, instead organically forming a structure of its own, providing technical and personal support to one another, and maintaining relationships long after the field trial ended in 2014. This study uncovers new understanding of the positive impact organic power relations has in online brand community. Implications to brand marketers are evident: 1) invest in community over one-on-one brand relationships, 2) grass-roots brand community is highly sustainable, 3) monitor the community and be ready to step in to resolve small issues before they become problems and 4) regard members of the brand community as equals in product development and brand meaning.

Practice theory. Brand community. Brand marketing. Automobiles. Electric cars. Electric vehicles.