Lifestyle brands and peer-to-peer communications
Austin, Caroline Graham
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The primary motivation of this dissertation is to identify how trends in lifestyle branding have influenced, and been influenced by, peer-to-peer marketing communications. We strive to discover the implications Ð for consumers and organizations Ð of an increasing level of complexity in capitalist marketing systems. In our first study, we present a classification scheme that displays the essential attributes of seven similar types of brands. Synthesizing academic, managerial and popular source materials, we distinguish these related, but different, brand types. Understanding lifestyle brands Ð what they are, how they are developed, how they are received, why they are effective, what is not a lifestyle brand Ð is key to understanding contemporary thinking about the relationships between and among consumers, marketers, and culture. Our second study is a classification of consumer-based promotional methods, and provides definitions and rationales for the use of these marketing techniques. Using theoretical concepts related to self-creation in a postmodern marketplace, we construct and present a classification scheme and explain its utility. Our third consists of a case-based study.We develop a theory-in-use of managerial self-brand awareness that we name Òstrategic empathy.Ó We also present a conceptual model of lifestyle branding and strategic empathy, as well as propositions for how concepts, contexts, and produsers affect each other and the meaning of lifestyle brands. We highlight which of these propositions are unique to lifestyle brands, and frame questions to guide future research.