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in spite of performing well at both the club (AC Milan FC) and national levels (Italy), was never nominated for the award. Community members who act in this way ...

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Understanding value co-creation in a co-consuming brand community Siwarit Pongsakornrungsilp and Jonathan E. Schroeder Marketing Theory 2011 11: 303 DOI: 10.1177/1470593111408178 The online version of this article can be found at: http://mtq.sagepub.com/content/11/3/303

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Article

Understanding value co-creation in a co-consuming brand community

Marketing Theory 11(3) 303–324 ª The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permission: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1470593111408178 mtq.sagepub.com

Siwarit Pongsakornrungsilp Walailak University, Thailand

Jonathan E. Schroeder Rochester Institute of Technology, USA

Abstract Recent research has suggested that consumers collectively co-create value through consumption practices. This paper provides additional insights into value creation by demonstrating how individual consumers play distinct roles in the value creation process. By focusing on microdimensions of co-consuming groups, we show how individual consumers engage in value creation processes in the context of brand culture. We bring together concepts of value creation, working consumers, and double exploitation to demonstrate the roles played by consumers and communities in value co-creation. We focus on value creation in a particular type of co-consuming group: an online football fan community. Results show that co-consuming groups are platforms for value creation. We argue that double exploitation is not necessarily a threat to consumers because it may instead enable them to play active roles in value co-creation and gain power against brand owners. This paper contributes to the existing literature on brand community and the value co-creation paradigm by: (1) demonstrating the dynamic roles played by consumers in the value co-creation; (2) revealing new forms of consumer organization; and (3) illustrating how working consumers work among themselves in managing brand communities. Keywords brand community, brand culture, branding, co-creation, double exploitation, football fans, online communities, value creation, working consumers

Corresponding author: Siwarit Pongsakornrungsilp, School of Management, Walailak University, Academic Building 3, 222 Thaiburi, Thasala Email: [email protected]

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Introduction The concepts of co-creation and value have assumed central importance in marketing theory. Co-creation refers to the processes by which both consumers and producers collaborate, or otherwise participate, in creating value (e.g. Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004). Within this perspective, consumers are assumed to create value-in-use and co-create value with organizations, thus realizing their potential to utilize consumption to demonstrate knowledge, distinction, and expertise (e.g. Alba and Hutchinson, 1987); construct, represent, and maintain their identity (e.g. Denegri-Knott and Molesworth, 2010; Fırat et al., 1995); and form social networks (e.g. Holt, 1995). Key concepts associated with co-creation include working consumers, co-production, prosumption, consumer empowerment, consumer resistance, consumer agency, and consumer tribes. These interrelated concepts generally focus on the active roles played by consumers in consumption and value creation processes. Consequently, the active role played by the ‘free consumer’ (Zwick et al., 2008) is increasingly understood as a threat to marketers, who may be seen to be losing power in the market (Cova and Dalli, 2009). Furthermore, this active consumer role can be credited with transforming basic economic logic, by shifting power from producers to consumers and thereby blurring the boundaries between firms and customers. Recent research in marketing has addressed value creation as a paradigm shift. One influential research stream focuses on how companies and consumers interact to co-create value in terms of co-production (Bendapudi and Leone, 2003; Etgar, 2008; Gro¨nroos, 2006; Wikstro¨m, 1996; Woodruff and Flint, 2006); and consumer involvement (Andersson et al., 2008; Kalaignanam and Varadarajan, 2006). In many circumstances, consumers are also viewed as value co-creators, using their skills and knowledge to produce or to create the objects of their own consumption as prosumers (Bagozzi and Warshaw, 1990; Toffler, 1980; Xie et al., 2008); or working consumers (Arvidsson, 2005; Cova and Dalli, 2009; Gabriel and Lang, 2006, Zwick et al., 2008). Consumers may co-create value not only by participating in the market or company, but also by outflanking companies or marketers through defiant or oppositional consumption practices, such as consumer empowerment (Denegri-Knott et al., 2006; Kozinets and Handelman, 2004); and consumer resistance (Dalli and Corciolani, 2008; Holt, 2002; Kozinets, 2002a; Pongsakornrungsilp et al., 2008); or cultural hijacking (e.g. Izberk-Bilgin, 2010; Kozinets, 2010; Kozinets and Handelman, 2004, for a review). Due to the dynamism and multidimensionality of value (e.g. Lawrence and Phillips, 2002; Sa´nchez-Ferna´ndez and Iniesta-Bonillo, 2007; Vargo and Lusch, 2008), value co-creation processes often depend on how consumers interpret market offerings, marketing communication, quality, performance, and value. Our purpose here is to examine how consumers and consuming groups influence the value co-creation process. As a case study for our research, we selected an online football community for fans of the Liverpool Football club – ‘ThisIsAnfield Fan Site (hereafter TIA): An Unofficial Liverpool FC Fan Site’ [http://www.thisisanfield.com].We have incorporated a cultural framework (Holt, 2004; Schroeder and Salzer-Mo¨rling, 2006) into our analysis of the value co-creation process. We begin by discussing the concept of value co-creation, which refers to the variety of ways by which consumers are able to play active roles in the value creation process. Next, we employ the concepts of working consumers and double exploitation to highlight the significance of consumers’ immaterial labour in value co-creation processes. Finally, we discuss the links between brand communities, co-consuming groups, and value creation processes. Several roles of

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consumers and co-consuming groups are discussed in order to contextualize our understanding of how consumers co-create value. Moreover, we also demonstrate how collective consumers react to double exploitation. We conclude by discussing the implications of the working consumer for value co-creation processes.

Co-creation of value A consumer revolution. The view of company and consumer as value co-creators has changed dramatically in recent decades. Strategic attention has moved beyond the market orientation’s emphasis on consumers over products (e.g. Jaworski and Kohli, 1993), to emphasize how consumers create symbolic meaning and value via consumption (e.g. Fırat and Dholakia, 2006). Wikstro¨m (1996) suggests that marketing philosophy does not focus on how companies create value for consumers, but rather on how they create value with consumers, signalling a change from a producer–consumer perspective to a co-creation perspective – as it is referred to within servicedominant logic of marketing, in which the role of company and consumer has been recast from producer–consumer to co-creators of value (Vargo and Lusch, 2008). At the same time, strategic brand communication has shifted from telling stories to consumers to sharing stories with consumers. A rich literature on value co-creation shows how interaction, dialogue, involvement, and consumption between companies and consumers play important roles in the co-creation of value (Etgar, 2008; Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004; Vargo and Lusch, 2004). The concept of co-creation has emerged as one of the most important marketing paradigms. Co-creation implies that consumers no longer occupy the end of the value chain; rather, they assume central importance in the processes of value creation. In support of this claim, Gabriel and Lang (2008: 334) argue that ‘[c]onsumers have proven that in spite of the best efforts to constrain, control and manipulate them, they can act in ways that are unpredictable, inconsistent and contrary’. This shift represents a profound change in the relationship between producer and consumer (Arvidsson, 2005; Fırat et al., 1995; Pettinger, 2004). Thus, much attention is being paid to how consumers can engage in the co-creation of value through individual co-creation experiences and interaction with brands, companies, and other consumers (Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004). The multidimensionality of value. Value is one of the most controversial issues in the marketing literature (e.g. Sa´nchez-Ferna´ndez and Iniesta-Bonillo, 2007). Value – complex and multidimensional – can be perceived to have different meanings depending on time, situation, or person (e.g., Holbrook, 2006). Value can also be understood as a symbolic meaning (Shankar et al., 2009); as a value-added concept (Woodruff and Flint, 2006); as a linking value (Cova and Cova, 2002); and as value-in-use (Vargo and Lusch, 2004). The perception of value can be explained through the idea of fragmentation, whereby contemporary consumers may customize value and meaning to achieve their life or career goals (Fırat et al., 1995). For example one consumer may buy Nike shoes because they suit his feet whereas another consumer may be attracted to Nike’s cultural value – hoping, perhaps, the shoes will help him look ‘cool’. Value represents not only the functional and economic value of goods and services, but also the consumer’s interpretation of consumption objects, including products, brands, and services (e.g. Lawrence and Phillips, 2002). In this way, value co-creation has moved beyond the consumer’s purchasing power and the functional purposes of products to focus on the symbolic meaning of consumption. Thus companies need to understand how consumers value their set of life projects and how they enact their life narratives (Arnould and Price, 2000). Many marketing studies have

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revealed how collective consumers co-create the symbolic meaning of consumption (e.g. Amis and Silk, 2010; Cova and Pace, 2006; Leigh et al., 2006; Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001; Mun˜iz and Schau, 2005). For example a recent study by Schau et al. (2009) explored collective value creation within several brand communities and provided a comprehensive review of brand value creation processes.

Value creation in co-consuming groups Within consumer research, consumers are often seen as powerful agents – in as much as growing collective consumer interactions may create opportunities (Baron, 2006) and pose threats to companies (Denegri-Knott et al., 2006; Kozinets and Handelman, 2004). Therefore, the unit of analysis for such research is not only specific to the individual level of consumption or the relationship between firms and consumers, but also extends to the social level of consumption (e.g. brand community, subculture of consumption, consumer tribe, etc.), described here as the ‘co-consuming group’ (Arnould et al., 2006). The co-consuming group is a collective consumer community that consumers form by ‘linking value’ in order to co-construct their consumption, resistance, or empowerment (e.g. Cova and Cova, 2002). In order to understand the power of co-consuming groups, many scholars have investigated the emergence, characteristics, and other important factors relating to collective communities of consumers (e.g. Belk and Tumbat, 2005; Cova and Cova, 2002; Denegri-Knott and Molesworth, 2010; Leigh et al., 2006; Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001; Schouten and McAlexander, 1995). In particular, researchers in many contexts have found that reciprocity and gift giving are important components in the co-creation of value: for example within virtual communities and online gift economies (Belk, 2007); music file sharing (Giesler, 2006); and peer-to-peer communities (Mathwick et al., 2008). Recent value creation studies illuminate the collective process of value creation within brand communities. For example Schau et al. (2009) have studied the macro-perspective of value creation by focusing on multi-brand communities. They highlight a set of 12 collective practices whereby consumers co-create value. Mun˜iz and Schau (2005) have examined the case of the Apple Newton brand community, in which the stigma of an ‘abandoned’ brand led consumers to co-create the brand meaning, thus extending the brand’s life. For Apple Newton, consumer faith in the brand emerged through the co-creation of myths and religiosity in a largely online community, and this faith has kept the brand alive for a select group of consumers. In this article, we provide additional insights into the value creation process by focusing on a popular global brand community: the ThisIsAnfield Liverpool FC online fan community. By selecting this case study, we aim to extend our understanding of how brand communities co-create value by exploring how the myths and cultural meanings of the Liverpool FC brand are created and shared among members of ThisIsAnfield in a continuous learning process. Whereas a myriad of brand community studies have focused on collective issues, such as reciprocity of problem solving (Mathwick et al., 2008; Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001; Mun˜iz and Schau, 2005); consumer empowerment (Leigh et al., 2006; Mun˜iz and Schau, 2005; Pongsakornrungsilp et al., 2008); brand engagement (Cova and Pace, 2006; McAlexander et al., 2002); and roles of practices in the value creation process (Schau et al., 2009), there is less work on the roles of individual participants in the value co-creation process. A noteworthy micro-cultural analysis (Sirsi et al., 1996) focused on individual consumer roles by examining how interactions between ‘expert’ and ‘novice’ consumers led to the dissemination of cultural belief systems that influence consumer behaviour. A significant conclusion that may be drawn from this study is that

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social interactions among individual consumers contribute to the value co-creation process. However, the micro-processes that underlie value co-creation are still somewhat under researched. We intend to extend our understanding of value co-creation by focusing on the ways in which individual consumers engage in value co-creation processes in order to cocreate value for its own sake. Taking a micro-perspective on value creation can help us to understand how consumers gain the cultural authority to co-create value, symbolic meanings, or cultural codes of consumption. In this context, cultural codes are the principles, meanings, and unique cultural memory shared among community members (Schroeder, 2009). As mentioned above, we aim to improve our understanding of value co-creation by focusing on the roles of individual consumers as opposed to consumer practices (Schau et al., 2009). In other words, we are looking for forms of consumer agency which feed back into consumer behaviour. Understanding how individual consumers behave in the context of co-consuming groups can provide additional insights into the value co-creation process.

Working consumers and double exploitation Recently, Cova and Dalli (2009) introduced the concept of working consumers to explain how consumers collectively co-create value. The notion of working consumers refers to the ways in which companies employ consumers as ‘unpaid’ labourers and also how marketers and market participants manage information asymmetry or double exploitation within the market, whereby consumers dedicate their energy, power, minds, or resources to co-production with companies (Cova and Dalli, 2009). They pose three basic questions: (1) who is responsible for value co-creation? (2) how is value created, communicated and transferred to the market? and (3) what is the role of the community in the process of value co-creation? However, the relationship between working consumers and value co-creation, as well as the roles of participants and co-consuming groups in the process, are still somewhat unclear. According to the working consumer framework, companies may treat consumers as unpaid workers (Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2000; Zwick et al., 2008). This practice leads to accusations of ‘double exploitation’, which has recently been explained by Cova and Dalli (2009: 333) thus: [E]ven if consumers were to be regarded as producers, they are not usually able to exploit the tangible benefits obtained from their labour ... and [d]espite the value that they transfer to a product, consumers are willing to pay for it and, in given circumstances, to pay more for the product’s personalization.

In this sense, companies receive benefits or premium charges from consumers in spite of the fact that consumers have invested their own abilities, resources, or ‘general intellect’ (Zwick et al., 2008) in the value co-creation process. The notion of general intellect is derived from Marx’s theory of labour (see also Zwick et al., 2008: 178), which refers to a set of competencies that are freely available in all individuals. In response to the literature discussed above, we have developed specific research questions that are intended to shed light on how the value co-creation processes ‘work’ and whether double exploitation exists: 1. What are the roles of consumers and consumer communities within the value co-creation process? 2. How do individual consumers engage in the value creation process? 3. What role, if any, does double exploitation play in brand communities?

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In the next section we turn to the research context and explain why a study of the Liverpool FC fan site – the TIA online community – can help us to understand the value co-creation process. Following this, we focus on the method used here.

Method Founded in 1892, Liverpool Football Club is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in English football history. Traditionally, Liverpool FC has both a strong affinity with its local working-class supporters and has also developed a large international fan base (Liverpool FC, 2009). The ThisIsAnfield fan community, or TIA, (Anfield is Liverpool’s home stadium) has been selected as a case study for several reasons. First, Liverpool FC provides a vivid example of a global brand with a wide array of fans – many who have never been to Liverpool or seen the club play live. Second, TIA is open to all supporters as it does not restrict membership to specific groups, such as local fans (Pongsakornrungsilp et al., 2008). Third, its supporters operate TIA independently of Liverpool FC. The characteristics of TIA and the ways in which its members interact can make a useful contribution to our understanding of how value is co-created in co-consuming groups (Arnould et al., 2006; Vargo and Lusch, 2004, 2008). TIA also exhibits the three markers of a brand community: consciousness of kind, shared rituals and traditions, and a sense of moral responsibility (Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001). Therefore, the TIA community is a good example of a consumer community that co-creates value and in which all consumers are eligible to participate by interacting with other consumers and gain unique benefits by doing so. Data were gathered in several ways. We conducted netnography to observe the roles of consumers on the TIA fan site. Netnography offers a research method to gain understanding of online communities in their natural environment – online (Kozinets, 2002b, 2010; see also Giesler, 2006; Mathwick et al., 2008). For example Avery (2007) has studied an independent consumer brand community, namely Porsche automobile enthusiasts (much like the TIA fan site), focusing on how consumers in that brand community use their chosen brand as an instrument to construct their identity (who they are or who they are not). Additionally, Mathwick et al. (2008) have studied social relationships by showing how consumers cement peer networks within brand communities through the formation of online group norms. In this study, we adapt this inquiry technique to investigate the roles played by consumers in consumer communities in order to demonstrate nuances in the co-creation processes. During the data collection phase, we adopted a humanist inquiry method which Hirschman (1986) has divided into three stages: (1) ‘a priori conceptualisation’ to see the overall phenomenon; (2) ‘exploratory investigation’ to understand the humanist phenomenon; and (3) ‘personal immersion’, to embed the researcher within the phenomenon. The first author observed consumerto-consumer interactions on the TIA community, acting both as a participant and a non-participant with the permission of the site moderators and other members. Our research began after the first author obtained permission from a TIA moderator to conduct the study. We focused on the ways in which members of the community interacted with each other on forums and recorded significant data. As discussed above in the literature review, we view interactions between TIA members on the fan site as part of the value co-creation process itself. Accordingly, we have observed the ways in which TIA members participate in the general life of the community, share information, argue, and converse with other members of the community. Although such participant observation may create biases (Avery, 2007), it allowed the researchers

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to form direct relationships with group members, and therefore be identified as members of the consumer community – what Kozinets calls a recognized culture member (Kozinets, 2002b). Relevant online conversations were downloaded for analysis, and these data were directly copied, transcribed, and inscribed during the observation phase (Kozinets, 2002b). Additional data were collected via ‘personal messages’ (PMs) – private messages, much like emails, which are sent to specific online members. We followed Mathwick et al.’s (2008) iterative process in the analysis by reading the posts and categorizing the data appropriately. We employed several different analytical perspectives through the lenses of insider and outsider, both in the football world and the TIA community. The first author is a football player and a member of the TIA community, while the second author is not. This dual perspective helps make the context feasible to drive the theory (Arnould et al., 2007). We have adapted insights from prior research that focus on either individual or collective analysis (Holt, 1995; Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001; Mun˜iz and Schau, 2005; Schau et al., 2009). In this way, we extended our units of analysis by taking into account both individual and collective consumers. We also analysed emerging themes in our observations through a hermeneutical framework of interpretation (Thompson, 1997), whereby rereading posts and online interactions, retracing to the relevant literature, and conducting theme revision in order to satisfy the interpretive convergence (e.g. Kozinets, 2002b).

Findings Our data show that consumers may act as providers and beneficiaries within the value co-creation process, and that the co-consuming group is not only a brand curator (Cova and Dalli, 2009; Leigh et al., 2006), but also a source of value or a platform on which consumers may co-create value. In this section, we discuss two key roles which consumers may adopt in the value co-creation process: providers and beneficiaries. Next, we examine how the co-consuming group enables consumers to participate in the co-creation of value. Finally, we discuss how consumers react to double exploitation within the online community.

Consumer roles in value co-creation A key aim of our study was to shed light on how individual consumers engage in value creation by observing how members of the TIA community interact both as individuals and in groups. We found that knowledge, information, and experiential resources – or cultural capital – associated with the Liverpool FC brand are co-created within the co-consuming group. All TIA members are beneficiaries in so far as they gain something from being TIA members; but only some act as providers depending on how they behave and the cultural capital they bring to the TIA community. TIA members can be classified as either beneficiaries or providers depending on how they interact, participate, and converse within the community; especially regarding the degree of resource cocreation. Our results reconfirm that co-consuming groups act as agents in the value co-creation process, as shown in Figure 1. This process, which involves the transformation of resources from providers to beneficiaries (the flow of resources; see the straight arrow in Figure 1), requires participants to assume dynamic roles – so that each participant is able to play either provider or beneficiary roles. There are two main entry points into this process: those of the provider role (more experienced members) and the beneficiary role (generally less experienced members).

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Figure 1. Cycle of value co-creation process

Provider. More experienced members act as providers by contributing new resources – knowledge, information, statistics, data, or well analysed arguments (see black arrow in Figure 1) – to the overall resources of the community. Providers are generally more experienced members (both long time members and newbie members) who are able to make use of the resources they bring to the community to embed themselves firmly within it. Of course, some TIA members place a higher value on the quality of the contributions made by other members to the community rather than how long they have been members. The following post demonstrates how an experienced member makes an argument in response to other experienced members who have tried to dominate newer members: If a statement or an opinion is made and is backed up by a good explanation or reason it’s as valid as anyones. (Dublin_Kopite, 08/25/09, TIA Legend member)

Here, experienced member Dublin_Kopite argues that every fan has the right to express themselves in the community forums as long as they provide good reasons to support their views. His experienced, older position in the community, and his familiarity with the community’s history, norms, and members, give his post authority. Most providers have high community status, and many hold various official positions such as TIA Board Member, TIA Legend, TIA First Team, and TIA Subs Bench. As providers, they do not just act as beneficiaries by enjoying their experiences of Liverpool FC and the TIA community; they also make contributions to the TIA community as ‘creative posters’, ‘brand warriors’ and ‘moderators’.

Provider: Creative posters. Creative posters act as providers by contributing knowledge, comments, information, and stories about Liverpool FC and TIA forums. Moreover, creative posters do not only contribute a wealth of information about, and passion for, Liverpool FC; they are also able to discuss the wider football world, including other football players, leagues, and championships The following post is an example of a contribution to a football debate posted by an experienced member, Geriant:

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I am partly bringing up this point because the German always gets nominated, but Baresi never rates a mention. He epitomised the role of libero in the modern European game, leading the stingiest defense in Italy combined with having the stamina and creativity to start many of his team’s attacking moves. He also won the World Cup as well as making a semi and final. Needless to say, his club honours completely overshadows the German’s, but no he never gets rated anywhere near him. I believe that the German is usually included as a token defender so that the journalist appears to be unbiased and well informed. (Geriant, 11/21/08, TIA First Team member)

Note that Geriant, a TIA ‘First Team member’, is an experienced TIA contributor. His posts are information rich and he gives critical reasons to support his arguments. He states that journalists are the crucial reason why German players tend to be nominated most often as ‘best football player in Europe’: by contrast, he cites the Italian player Baresi as an example of a famous footballer who, in spite of performing well at both the club (AC Milan FC) and national levels (Italy), was never nominated for the award. Community members who act in this way help to educate less experienced and knowledgeable members (Schau et al., 2009). Moreover, creative posters share knowledge with beneficiaries. For example Matt, an experienced member, initiated a popular debate thread, ‘Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool Future,’ in January 2010, with 42,063 views and 2626 replies by March 2010. The interactions that resulted from the initial post led to a much broader process of enrichment among TIA members, as knowledge and information regarding Rafael Benitez’s (Liverpool’s manager at the time) performances, Liverpool FC facts, figures, and traditions, football governance, players, and so forth was shared and discussed on the thread. Less experienced members benefit by learning and accumulating knowledge and cultural resources when participating in threads such as this. Some beneficiaries can become providers by sharing or providing critical perspectives on debates, in what Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004) call the evolvability process. Along with providing information for fellow members, creative posters also educate new members in Liverpool FC customs, myths, and traditions. Posts by creative posters often call for debate and discussion, which can contribute to the collective resources of the TIA community. These stories help to initiate newer Liverpool FC fans into the club’s traditions and myths. The following post shows an experienced member explaining how creative posters can contribute to this learning process: The point with THIS forum is that NO ONE knows who the other members are, what they look like, how old they are. We all start from ZERO when we join . . . ME? I came to this site as a newbie and knew no one here . . . if I can remind younger fans of the work of Shanks and Paisley and the traditional meaning of being a Liverpool fan, then I will be consider my time not wasted ... because whatever we argue about ... We’ll never walk alone. (Geebo, 12/25/07, TIA Caretaker)

Geebo, as a TIA Caretaker, expresses the value of sharing Liverpool FC history to newbie (new) members – he believes that this is a way of forming and extending Liverpool FC’s tradition. There are no restrictions on participation in the TIA community: children, youth, and global supporters may all participate in TIA and learn about Liverpool FC ways and culture. The more knowledge and traditions they learn, the more they may identify themselves with Liverpool FC and the TIA community.

Provider: Brand warrior. In the value creation process, experienced members employ their cultural capital to co-create the Liverpool FC brand by constructing and disseminating its history, culture, and myths. They also co-create the symbolic meaning of their interactions in order to construct a

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strong identity regarding who they are, what they value, and how they socialize. In turn, they create value for the brand by indoctrinating beneficiaries into the strong traditions of club fandom. Furthermore, from our results it can be seen that interactions between individual consumers in the collective group contribute to the co-creation of the cultural codes of the brand through history, norms, and traditions. This process contributes to the solidarity of the brand value since it involves consumers co-constructing the cultural codes of their community in order to protect it from external threats (e.g. globalization and commercialization of football, The Sun newspaper, indifferent owners, rival clubs, etc.) and internal threats (e.g. fake fans, fair weather fans, knee-jerk members, glory hunters, etc.). Furthermore, the construction of these cultural codes may help TIA members – and Liverpool FC supporters in general – feel distinct from other football clubs and fan communities. Therefore, brand warriors play an important role in protecting and co-creating the traditions of Liverpool FC, correspondent with collective practices which co-create cultural capital in brand communities (Schau et al., 2009). Experienced members also act as ‘LFC Knights’ – strengthening the cultural codes of the Liverpool brand (Schroeder, 2009) by defending it against internal antagonists, such as so-called ‘glory hunters’ and ‘knee-jerk members’ who are seen as ‘low cultural’ consumers (see also Holt, 2002). Experienced members, or ‘high cultural’ consumers, are quite intolerant of uncommitted or dispassionate fans – who are seen to sully the reputation of the TIA community. To protect the reputation of the TIA community, experienced TIA members often adopt the role of an LFC Knight in order to defend the standards of the community against undesirable and antagonistic posters: Clearly you don’t embody the spirit of the team. They never say die, the true fans will never give up. How can you say that is the end? It is only half time, and the lads give 100% each time they go out there. They will do the same at Stamford, and we will qualify. Next time try and be more positive! (No.17, 04/22/08, TIA Reserve Team member)

Here, No.17, a TIA Reserve Team member, cautions another member about the ‘proper’ Liverpool FC spirit. This constitutes a learning process whereby experienced members, such as LFC Knights, enforce the cultural codes of the brand on less experienced or knee-jerk members, rather than expel them. This is comparable to the Porsche brand community in which traditional Porsche enthusiasts expressed their desire to exclude and denigrate Porsche Cayenne owners (Avery, 2007). Thus, this learning process is a way for older members to share club traditions with newcomers. This reaction against knee-jerk members can help us to understand how less experienced members contribute value or provide benefits to the TIA community. Knee-jerk posts can strengthen the traditions of Liverpool FC and the TIA community by provoking more experienced members (e.g. No.17), who in turn challenge them by sharing their knowledge and information about LFC and TIA traditions, thereby helping less experienced members to identify more strongly with Liverpool FC and the TIA community. In this way, we see how brand criticism can animate strong brand supporters to defend the brand and its values. Experienced members can also act as ‘tradition reminders’ in brand communities by helping to educate less experienced members. In some circumstances, tradition reminders have dominated other members. This example, posted by Dragonshadow, recalls the Liverpool FC spirit: Boycott the club store by all means. Boycott the merchandise, boycott the pre-match burgers and booze. Boycott the e-season tickets on the Offal. But don’t boycott matches. It’s not Rafa’s fault we’re

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saddled with two American muppets at the top. It’s not the players fault either. The team needs all the support we can give them . . . And the only way we can do that is by supporting the team from the terraces . . . It’s just not the Liverpool Way. (Dragonshadow, 09/19/08, Forum Admin)

Dragonshadow, as Forum Admin, one of the TIA board members, reminds other members about a divisive internal conflict between Liverpool FC’s manager, Rafael Benitez, and co-owners regarding the transfer budget. In this way he recalls the Liverpool FC spirit: i.e. Liverpool FC fans always support the players and manager. This post by Dragonshadow may activate the value creation process by contributing the cultural code of the brand which other members can perceive and accumulate: that is, new resources are developed and co-created by TIA members as they contribute knowledge and comments to threads and engage in discussions and arguments with each other. This corresponds with the learning–doing process of consumer creativity communities (Kozinets et al., 2008). In the example above, TIA members have been instrumental in calling for boycotts of club merchandise in order to reduce the profits of its current American co-owners and thereby discredit them. This may be a good sign of the unity of Liverpool FC fans against whoever they perceive to be the club’s enemies (including its owners). However, some members go further by viewing the club itself as an enemy; apparently this is not the Liverpool FC way – all fans are expected to stand behind the team, even in the face of bad results. Experienced members tend to play an important role as tradition reminders by recalling the spirit of Liverpool FC fans. In this way, fan protests against the club’s owners are only acceptable to the extent that they do not affect its players and manager or, more ominously, affect the outcome of matches. All Liverpool FC fans can participate in this form of protest in order to express their solidarity against the club’s owners or other perceived antagonists.

Provider: Moderators. Moderators, or TIA board members (many of whom are founders of the community), may also act as providers by making unique contributions to the TIA community. On one hand, like most other experienced members, moderators act as providers by contributing knowledge, information, experience, well analysed comments, stories, legends, and so forth, about Liverpool FC to the community (that is, they act as creative posters and brand warriors). On the other hand, they voluntarily commit themselves to a number of compulsory duties, including answering questions online, posting new information, moderating all threads and posts on TIA forums, and disciplining badly behaved members. This volunteer service characterizes co-creation processes. Board members are also obliged to help settle conflicts between members, enforce community rules and standards, and respond to member requests. Dragonshadow, a forum admin, describes the responsibilities and qualifications of moderators thus: Are their posts friendly and well thought out, or maybe informative and helpful to others on the site, or are they antagonistic posts just out to wind others up? The former are the ones more likely to be considered ... someone that is here more regularly, not necessarily every day, but every couple of days ... You also need to be able to be sensible. We have forum rules, and the moderators are there to try and keep those rules in place, but without going over the top. (Dragonshadow, 12/27/08, Forum Admin, Personal Message)

Dragonshadow suggests that the main responsibility of moderators is to facilitate social interaction for all TIA members by co-creating a friendly platform for discussion – which can be understood as a vehicle of value creation. Moreover, through the traditions of Liverpool FC fans, as mentioned by

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Geebo in creative poster discussion above, all TIA members are nominally equal. Therefore, value creation within the TIA community is a product of collective interaction within the community.

Beneficiary. Beneficiary is a basic role of all members of the TIA community. In this capacity, they form relationships with other members and thus contribute to the community as a whole. As beneficiaries, members do not require much experience or a high level of knowledge about Liverpool FC or the TIA community. However, they can gain collective benefits by developing a strong sense of community and consciousness of kind with other TIA members. There are two groups of beneficiaries: less and more experienced members. Less experienced members (they can be found in different ranks, but most of them are ‘newbie’ members) access and benefit from the social proximity offered by TIA. They can be viewed as BIRGing (basking in reflected glory) – claiming glory and success, even though they have done nothing tangible to influence the team’s accomplishments, and CORFing (cutting off reflected failure) – distancing themselves as far as possible from the losing team (Cialdini et al., 1976: Richardson, 2004; Snyder et al., 1986). They can only act as beneficiaries and access the process through the entry point of less experienced members because they have limited experience, knowledge, or information to share with others; therefore, their contribution to the value cocreation process is generally restricted, as indicated by the shaded circle shown in Figure 1. Less experienced members tend to complain or despair when LFC does not perform well. More experienced members brand these less experienced members knee-jerk fans, glory hunters, or doom predictors, because they celebrate when LFC win and disassociate themselves from the club or just complain when LFC loses. The following post is an example of a knee-jerk post: So f**king frustrating. I hate Dirk Kuyt, hope to god the man up and dies. How does he manage to stay playing for Liverpool, he is useless. Set pieces was dreadful, about 15 corners and not once did we threaten. From the high of last week to this. We can’t beat a team if they sit back and defend, not good enough to win premiership on the early evidence of this season. (jamsieboy86, 09/20/08, TIA New Signing)

This newbie member, jamsieboy86, may be considered a knee-jerk member because he is already talking down Liverpool FC’s chances of winning the English Premier League title in the second month of the 2008–09 season. He does not only abuse a player, Dirk Kuyt, but also the team. These knee-jerk fans or ‘glory hunters’ may post purely for the purposes of upgrading their ranking within the TIA community (due to the rank system governed by number of posts). However, they may also just focus their posts on the glory only when Liverpool FC wins. By doing this, they gain social identity or status from participating in the TIA community. Although all fans do focus on the glory of Liverpool FC, more faithful fans always support and remain behind the team when Liverpool FC loses. Moreover, they provide reasons to support their arguments whereas knee-jerk fans do not. The less experienced community members gain a sense of community and consciousness of kind by accumulating knowledge and experiences about Liverpool FC and the TIA community and attempting to bond with the community and individual members. In this way, they participate and interact with their fellow members in order to experience pleasure (Hirschman and Holbrook, 1982; Schembri, 2006). Basically, beneficiaries are members who post responses to threads and enjoy the experience, and who would like to gain social recognition by becoming more recognized within TIA, and move up through the community’s ranking system. More experienced members can enter the process as beneficiaries by reading and responding to threads for their own sake. However, in contrast to less experienced members, they always provide

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reasons to support their opinions and share their experiences with other community members. Thus, in addition to accessing the value creation process as providers by sharing knowledge, information, statistics, and supporting the cultural codes of the Liverpool FC brand, experienced members also act as beneficiaries inasmuch as they gain benefits from the process of interacting with other TIA members. The following post gives an example of how experienced members play the beneficiary role. They may participate to form consciousness of kind and a sense of community (Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001) by participating in ‘fantasy football’ games: for instance by guessing the line-up of players before each game. Aurelio doesn’t play 2 games in 4 days, and therefore won’t play this. Hyypia could get a game to rest Carra or Agger but not sure about that. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Babel start, which id be happy to see.Don’t expect Alonso, Masch and Gerrard all to start. Torres could be back... I’d go with: Reina Arbeloa Hyypia Agger Dossena Kuyt Gerrard Mascherano Riera Babel* Keane * Torres if fit. (Matt, 10/26/08, TIA Editor)

Matt, one of the TIA board members, and a TIA editor, is an experienced poster, who acts as both a provider and beneficiary. While less experienced members might only post the line-up of players for a game, he shares information and comments on players who might be in with a chance of being in the line-up of the game because of Liverpool FC’s somewhat complex player rotation system. In this capacity, experienced members tend to be more relaxed than when acting as providers, because they are socializing with their fellow members and consuming the Liverpool FC provided by TIA. This is a typical marker of a strong brand community, as found in the Saab community (Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001) and the Apple Newton brand community (Mun˜iz and Schau, 2005). TIA members perform the beneficiary role as a means by which to form bonds with other members and so experience the sense of community offered by TIA. They may be said to achieve online flow (Hoffman and Novak, 2009) via a number of different activities: posting funny pictures, online pub contests, fantasy LFC manager (see example from Matt above), the ‘4-word’ game, and sharing LFC experiences. These are among the ways by which TIA members develop their connection with the Liverpool FC, building stronger relationships with each other and the Liverpool football brand. In addition, more experienced members tend to perform social networking practices (Schau et al., 2009) by engaging with the interests and concerns of other TIA members which fall outside of the football world. The following posts are examples of such social networking: Ooh 34 years old. He’s growing up quick! Happy Birthday redbj and GmanSenior!’’ (DanDagger, 10/27/08, TIA First Team member) Happy birthday redbj, another year older and slightly grumpier Happy brithday gman! Hope you both had the best of days. (Chung, 10/29/08, Chief Moderator)

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In this post, DanDagger and Chung celebrate the birthdays of their fellow members, redbj and GmanSenior. In contrast to less experienced members, more experienced members show they don’t discuss football exclusively, but feel free to mention other aspects of their personal lives (e.g. birthdays, holiday, movie, music, work, and so on), even though they may not see each other in the offline world. Social networking helps to strengthen relationships between TIA members, the community as a whole, as well as the cultural codes of the Liverpool FC brand. The colour red and the Liver-bird crest, prominent features of the Liverpool club logo, also provide TIA members with cultural symbols that help them express their sense of community. Social interaction between TIA members also extends to the offline world (e.g. meeting before home games, playing football against other football club fans, and other football related activities). Thus, online communities can lead to the formation of offline social networks (Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001). This process provides a useful avenue for further study. In short, as beneficiaries, TIA members enjoy experiences alongside their fellow members in order to satisfy their individual level of consumption and foster relationships with other members. But they do not only gain experiences and enjoyment by interacting in these ways: they also benefit as members of a collective group, which they have helped to form, by contributing to its consciousness of kind and sense of community (Matwick et al., 2008; Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001). In this way, beneficiaries consume Liverpool FC fandom by interacting with other Liverpool FC fans via the TIA community. It is noteworthy that this sense of community is mostly generated through ‘chat rooms’, in which respect the experiences of TIA members are similar to those of casual users of chat websites. However, chatting on sites like TIA has a more identifiable object – the TIA community – than more general chat websites (Shoham, 2004). Moreover, individual members’ contributions can be seen to express community vitality (see also Schau et al., 2009) because a particular thread will be moved to the first page of the forum when members add new posts.

Consumer organizing: Co-managing the brand community Given the strong traditions of Liverpool FC, new Liverpool FC fans are constantly joining the TIA community. TIA members view many of them as less experienced ‘knee-jerkers’ who exploit the traditions of Liverpool FC fans. Their behaviour can be characterized in three ways: (1) they attempt to embed themselves in the strong identity and traditions of Liverpool FC fans through BIRGing and CORFing; (2) their negative interactions and stereotypical bad behaviour have diluted the tradition of Liverpool FC fans; and (3) they consume Liverpool FC fandom by presenting themselves as fans without providing any opinions or information. These knee-jerk members are similar to those described by Mun˜iz and O’Guinn (2001) who use brands in the ‘wrong’ ways by not following group norms. Brand warriors play an important role in managing this kind of behaviour. To deal with kneejerk members, Red under the bed challenges the views of TIA members about knee-jerkers by pointing out that people are free to share their opinions on TIA: [T]IA is for opinions. The only knee jerkers on here are those who love to use this term . . . get a life! or at least an opinion! ... (Red under the bed, 12/09/08, TIA First Team member).

Red under the bed, as TIA First Team member, asks knee-jerkers to provide support for their views, rather than simply complaining about players or the manager. Experienced TIA members, of course, also complain about LFC players and managers when the team does not perform well,

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but they generally point out the good and bad aspects of games, and provide strong reasons to support their arguments.

Double exploitation within the co-consuming group Double exploitation occurs when companies interfere with brand culture. Double exploitation found in the TIA community emerges from the interaction between the company and a group of consumers. Liverpool FC’s American owners are a cause of the double exploitation because they attempted to break Liverpool FC tradition by planning to sack the team’s manager, Rafael Benitez, who is generally a popular figure among Liverpool FC supporters. In Liverpool FC’s history, the club has never fired a manager (Gerrard and Winter, 2006). Accordingly, Liverpool FC fans, especially TIA members, felt betrayed by the club’s owners, even though they had made sacrifices for the club. Thus, double exploitation emerges because TIA members, as Liverpool FC fans, have dedicated personal resources – time, money, energy, information, and cultural capital – to support the club. Indeed, they have co-created the history, norms, and traditions of Liverpool FC. However, some fans feel that the club’s owners have overlooked them, and many TIA members believe that Liverpool FC’s co-owners bought the club because they expected to gain commercial benefits from the huge fan base by selling club merchandise: jerseys, souvenirs, broadcasting rights, and so forth (ThisIsAnfield, 2009). Although the owners have promised to support a huge transfer budget for the manager, most fans believe they only own Liverpool FC to add value to their business portfolio and that they are not interested in football itself or the traditions of Liverpool FC (Pongsakornrungsilp et al., 2008). Double exploitation may damage the meaning and value of the brand because the owners might ignore the traditions of Liverpool FC and the relationship between the football club and its fans. Therefore, TIA members and other Liverpool FC fans feel obliged to protest against the club’s owners. Many campaigns have been developed by fans to force the club and owners to listen to them, including boycotting club merchandise, staying in seats after home games (normally supporters have to leave the ground as soon as possible after the final whistle), and the ‘Save Rafa’ campaign (chanting and singing songs lambasting the efforts of the club’s owners to sack popular manager Rafael Benitez). In response to such protests, owners decided to keep Benitez as Liverpool FC manager until the end of the 2009–10 season. Thus, Liverpool FC’s owners have begun to acknowledge the power of the club’s supporters, including TIA members.

Discussion Our results reveal the dynamic roles of individuals in the value creation process. Consumers can co-create value through social interactions by acting as beneficiaries and providers. We have focused on the process of negotiation between individuals through collective actions within the co-consuming group. Our findings show that each consumer or member in the co-consuming group participates in the social network in order to pursue two main goals: individual goals – information gathering, experiences, developing relationships, and social interaction – and collective goals – developing a sense of community or group identity, contributing to the group’s collective resources, supporting a brand culture, and so forth. We also found evidence of double exploitation within the co-consuming group in cases where consumers have constructed active roles and cultural codes to react to the exploitation. We provide additional insights to those presented by Schau et al. (2009) into the value creation process by exploring individual roles within the co-consuming group. Individual consumers can play two main roles in

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the value creation process: provider and beneficiary, as shown in Figure 1. Providers play an important role as creative posters, brand warriors, and moderators by sharing resources and other benefits within the community, thereby strengthening the Liverpool FC brand and managing community standards. Because value can be uniquely perceived by each beneficiary, benefits from this process can be experienced from social interactions, aggregated knowledge, or hedonistic emotions, depending on the situation, person, issue, or time (e.g. Holbrook, 2006; Vargo and Lusch, 2008).

Dynamic roles of value creation By acting as providers, experienced members engage in the ‘collective consumer creativity practice’ (Kozinets et al., 2008). In other words, providers co-create value by conversing and arguing on threads, especially in response to less experienced members who have made knee-jerk posts or misunderstood other members’ posts. All providers act as beneficiaries when they participate in discussion forums, or gain new knowledge and information from other experienced members. Furthermore, only experienced beneficiaries can act as providers as well as beneficiaries. Therefore, consumers may act as providers in as far as they are able to provide ‘services’, or as Gro¨nroos (2008) puts it, ‘doing something for someone’. These findings help extend the views of Schau et al. (2009) by arguing that the beneficiary role is a basic function of social practices in co-consuming groups. By assuming the role of beneficiary, consumers are able to engage with the community and facilitate value co-creation. Through this process, new knowledge emerges when members interact, converse, argue, and exchange knowledge with community members (Blazevic and Lievens, 2008; Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). This is a continuous process by which all members learn together (Ballantyne and Varey, 2006; Schau et al., 2009). Moreover, our findings lend support to Sirsi et al.’s (1996) view that ‘interaction between experts and novices’ is cultural belief sharing. We have shown how consumers, acting as providers, are able to influence the development of consumption objects while also benefiting from their consumption. Furthermore, providers also help to educate less experienced beneficiaries by sharing the cultural codes of the Liverpool FC brand through the discussions of brand warriors. This finding can be related to Schau et al.’s (2009) notion of ‘learning practice’; that is, the process by which more experienced members help less experienced members to engage with the value creation process. During the interaction process between providers and beneficiaries, resources are transformed in two ways: (1) the co-consuming group creates new resources; and (2) individuals within the co-consuming group accumulate new resources – experience and knowledge – from the interaction process. Individuals gradually benefit from these resources, which are then re-employed as collective resources that increase individual competence and support general intellect in the value co-creation process.

Working consumers in the co-consuming group. Our findings focus on an example of working consumers in a co-consuming group, namely the TIA community. TIA can be seen to act as a source of value, or what Vargo and Lusch (2008) call a resource integrator, which is essentially a platform for value co-creation where members can interact, participate, and converse with each other (Arvidsson, 2006; Blazevic and Lievens, 2008). In the other words, it is a workshop in which working consumers co-create value. Thanks to the possibilities afforded by computer mediated communities, relationships within the TIA community are not merely conducted on a one-to-one basis; rather, the TIA community model allows for the formation of multiple or ‘many-to-many’ relationships (Gummesson, 2006). In this way, individual members are gradually able to immerse themselves in the

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community or ‘social network of practices’ (Schau et al., 2009). Interaction within the network advances from one-to-many – one way communication through email – to many-to-many – multi-way communication through the computer mediated environment – so that consumers are able to share information with companies and other consumers (Hoffman and Novak, 1996). The latter interaction is a bottom-up approach, whereby information resources are directed from a grassroots perspective (Kozinets et al., 2008). Our study has responded to Denegri-Knott et al.’s (2006) concerns about consumer empowerment by demonstrating how consumers can co-construct their consumption and empowerment. We argue that consumers within the co-consuming group have formed a ‘consumer organization’ – an emerging form of organization where consumers develop relationships that empower them as a group (McLean, 1995). The TIA community is a well organized consumption community that has been created and managed by consumers; mainly community moderators or TIA board members. These moderators dedicate themselves to overseeing community discipline, which in turn helps to co-create the platform of value creation. This movement contributes to changes in the ecosystem of the value creation paradigm by increasing consumer empowerment through the network of collaboration and consumer creativity in communities (Denegri-Knott et al., 2006; Kozinets et al., 2008; Vargo and Lusch, 2004).

Double exploitation in co-consuming group Our findings also shed light on the concept of working consumers (Cova and Dalli, 2009) by showing how TIA members respond or react to double exploitation. Many theoretical and empirical studies in marketing have shown how consumers resist marketing efforts (e.g. Holt, 2002; Kozinets and Handelman, 2004; Mun˜iz and Schau, 2005; Pongsakornrungsilp et al., 2008), but these do not generally focus on consumer reactions against double exploitation. Our findings show that double exploitation occurs within online consumer communities between companies and consumers. In the case of the TIA community, double exploitation can be observed between community members and the club’s American co-owners. However, rather than being a threat to value creation, in this case double exploitation may provoke consumers into adopting active roles which empower them as a group against the club’s owners. In this way, consumer groups are able to act in ways that limit the power of companies to interfere with the distinct cultural practices that they develop around consumption objects (Campbell, 2006). The counterbalancing or countervailing idea was introduced by Galbraith (1956) to account for consumer empowerment, whereby consumers collectively act in a manner that forces companies to acknowledge them and perhaps do something for them. We have also have stretched the concept of ‘working consumers’ by showing how consumers work among themselves to manage brand communities. However, as with double exploitation between consumers and companies, working consumers within brand communities may not represent a threat to the brand and consumer community – the concept can help co-create a continuous learning process and the formation of cultural practices within the community. This finding also extends the idea of ‘legitimacy’ in brand communities (Mun˜iz and O’Guinn, 2001) by demonstrating how experienced members respond to inexperienced members who use the brand in the ‘wrong’ ways (according to group norms) by sharing group norms, rituals, and values with them. This in turn leads to the co-creation of the cultural codes of the brand.

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Limitations We realize that the relationship between the producer (the Football Club) and consumers (supporters or fans) is blurred, inasmuch as supporters often play important roles at the managerial level of many football clubs (e.g. Stockport County, Exeter City, and so forth (SupportersDirect, 2008)). Moreover, local supporters tend to have a strong relationship with the history of football clubs through ties of kinship and community. Thus, we have focused on the roles played by Liverpool FC supporters, who are also TIA members in the value creation process; we did not intend to investigate what value is in this context. Moreover, the majority of TIA members are male and football remains a male dominated sport; therefore, it may be problematic to extend our findings to all consumers. We were only able to employ participant and non-participant forms of observation in this study since we did not access TIA members in the offline world. However, we collected additional data from PMs sent by some individual members in order to complete the set of data. Future research would benefit from interviews that would provide a further source of data on the value co-creation process and the symbolic meaning of consumption. Although our conceptual argument has provided a counter perspective on double exploitation, our empirical data may not provide firm evidence to support arguments about double exploitation – and this contentious issue cannot be resolved within a single study. Furthermore, it may be difficult to compare the contributions or rewards of individuals within online communities in terms of sociocultural benefits. However, this study helps clarify the complexities of co-creation, and its potential roles in both consumer empowerment and double exploitation. Further research should investigate the socio-economic benefits of the value co-creation process by considering whether consumers are able to gain the monetary benefits from the brand in order to draw a richer picture of how working consumers interact with value creation.

Conclusion This study provides insights into how consumers co-create value via interaction, within the context of brand communities. We have shown that consumers play dynamic roles in the value co-creation process by acting as providers and beneficiaries, thereby co-creating value for themselves, for brand communities, and for organizations. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that coconsuming groups or brand communities can be seen as workshops that enable consumers to co-create value. Thus, although it has been argued that double exploitation is a threat to value creation (Cova and Dalli, 2009), we contend that under some circumstances this form of consumer work activates a potential for consumer empowerment. Our study reveals that double exploitation within brand communities may initiate continuous learning processes among members, which help to strengthen and unify the community as a whole, and provide resources to challenge brand managers and owners. As seen from the discussion above, this learning process occurs as consumers interact with each other – chatting, debating, posting, and sharing knowledge. The learning process may, in turn, help to nurture and even protect brands – since consumers are increasingly encouraged to contribute to the culture, myths, and histories of brands they consume. Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank the TIA members and TIA board moderators for their valuable data. We also wish to thank Hope Schau for sharing her insights on the dynamic value creation process; Stefano Pace for

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commenting on an earlier version of this paper; as well as Søren Askegaard and Alex Thompson for comments and suggestions on the research project. We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the special issue editors for their comments and suggestions. The first author thanks the Royal Thai Government for funding his dissertation research.

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Siwarit Pongsakornrungsilp is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Walailak University, Thailand. His research interests focus on value co-creation, consumer culture theory, working consumers, brand culture, and brand co-creation. These also include how consumers employ spirituality and superstition to co-create brand value. He received his PhD from University of Exeter in 2010. Address: School of Management, Walailak University, Academic Building 3, 222 Thaiburi, Thasala, Nakhon Sri Thammarat 80160, Thailand. [email: [email protected]] Jonathan Schroeder is the William A. Kern Professor of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology. Prior to this, he was Chair in Marketing at the University of Exeter Business School. He has published widely on branding, communication, consumer research, and identity. He is editor in chief of Consumption Markets & Culture, and serves on the editorial boards of Advertising and Society Review, Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, European Journal of Marketing, Innovative Marketing, International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Journal of Macromarketing, and Marketing Theory. Address: Rochester Institute of Technology, College of Liberal Arts, Eastman Building 3006, Rochester, New York, 14623 USA. [email: [email protected]]

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