Charles H. Noble, The University of Mississippi
Mavis Adjei, Southern Illinois University
Stephanie M. Noble, The University of Mississippi

This article reports on a study of consumers’ use of online message boards as a means of “customer-to-customer” service in providing product opinions, usage information, and other forms of guidance that influence purchase decisions. Increasingly, consumers use the internet as a form of service technology for pre-purchase information gathering. While technical specifications and potentially biased selling points can be gleaned from corporate web sites, online brand communities are becoming essential conduits for the customer-to-customer (C2C) sharing of product information and experiences. This study uses a netnography technique to code and analyze conversations between brand community members of two competitor firms. These data are combined with a survey component and actual purchase data to develop insights into how these communities operate and influence participants in important ways. This study provides several managerial insights, including considering the relative strengths and weaknesses of company-sponsored versus anonymous, and moderated versus open communities as service vehicles for the company.


This paper is published in Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, October 2010, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 634-653