Nav: Home

Branding in a hyperconnected world

January 29, 2020

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Wisconsin, and Columbia University published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that examines the changing role and management of brands in a hyperconnected world.

The study forthcoming in the March issue of the Journal of Marketing is titled "Branding in a Hyperconnected World: Refocusing Theories and Rethinking Boundaries" is authored by Vanitha Swaminathan, Alina Sorescu, Jan-Benedict Steenkamp, Thomas O'Guinn, and Bernd Schmitt.

Nike's valuation increased by approximately $30 billion between the launch of the Colin Kaepernick ad and the end of 2019 in large part due to the viral publicity generated by this action and the way consumers responded to it. This story captured the attention of marketers everywhere and reshaped Nike's brand associations. It also seems to defy one of the traditional principles of branding where brands were encouraged to remain "above the fray" and not be involved in controversial issues that may potentially turn away certain customer segments.

A new article in the Journal of Marketing begins with the premise that a hyperconnected environment is changing the role and management of brands such that new theories and models are needed to account for these changes. This article sets the stage for new branding research in a hyperconnected world in which the boundaries of branding have been blurred and broadened. To encourage future research, a research agenda on branding from the perspectives of consumers, firms, and society is presented.

Considering both the broadening and blurring of brand boundaries, the research team poses three questions: (1) What are the roles and functions of brands? (2) How is brand value (co)created? and (3) How should brands be managed?

The article re-examines traditional roles of brands (e.g., brands as signals of quality or as mental cues) and notes how those roles are changing in a hyperconnected environment. It also describes how hyperconnectivity contributes to several new roles in which brands are containers of socially constructed meaning, architects of value in networks, catalysts of communities, arbiters of controversy, and stewards of data privacy among others. Many of these new roles can be the focus of research from multiple disciplinary perspectives and a variety of research questions that can draw from different theoretical perspectives are highlighted. As brand boundaries are blurring, the article discusses the shift towards cocreated brand meanings and experiences, enacted via digital platforms which facilitate such cocreation.

Given the complex nature of brands today and in the future, the article encourages researchers to engage in future boundary-breaking research. One implication of hyperconnectivity for branding research is that brands will need to be conceptualized more broadly within each of the theoretical perspectives in the extant brand literature. The consumer and the firm perspectives should focus more on consumers and firms as part of networks rather than on their roles as individual buyers or managers of brands. The society perspective should go beyond the role of brands as cultural symbols and examine them as agents of social change. Moreover, brands are becoming more than symbols attached to products that are owned by individual firms; brands can also be ideas, persons, and places.

There is also an opportunity to examine topics that cut across these theoretical perspectives. Brands need to fulfill a broader mission and purpose. For example, the firm perspective will need to embrace societal questions as organizations or corporate brands will be asked to address broader issues including social responsibility, sustainability, and human-resource practices that go beyond profit maximization. The consumer perspective will also have to be more rooted in the society perspective as consumers form networks that are becoming distinct and occasionally vociferous entities that can shape both managerial practice and societal trends. The impact of networks on brands, like that of communities, requires additional sociological, psychological, and cultural insight. Such work would benefit from increased collaboration among branding researchers of different backgrounds, including teams of marketing strategists, economists, modelers, psychologists, sociologists, and consumer culture researchers.
Full article and author contact information available at:

About the Journal of Marketing

The Journal of Marketing develops and disseminates knowledge about real-world marketing questions useful to scholars, educators, managers, policy makers, consumers, and other societal stakeholders around the world. Published by the American Marketing Association since its founding in 1936, JM has played a significant role in shaping the content and boundaries of the marketing discipline. Christine Moorman (T. Austin Finch, Sr. Professor of Business Administration at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University) serves as the current Editor in Chief.

About the American Marketing Association (AMA)

As the largest chapter-based marketing association in the world, the AMA is trusted by marketing and sales professionals to help them discover what's coming next in the industry. The AMA has a community of local chapters in more than 70 cities and 350 college campuses throughout North America. The AMA is home to award-winning content, PCM® professional certification, premiere academic journals, and industry-leading training events and conferences.

American Marketing Association

Related Consumers Articles:

Is less more? How consumers view sustainability claims
Communicating a product's reduced negative attribute might have unintended consequences if consumers approach it with the wrong mindset.
In the sharing economy, consumers see themselves as helpers
Whether you use a taxi or a rideshare app like Uber, you're still going to get a driver who will take you to your destination.
Helping consumers in a crisis
A new study shows that the central bank tool known as quantitative easing helped consumers substantially during the last big economic downturn -- a finding with clear relevance for today's pandemic-hit economy.
'Locally grown' broccoli looks, tastes better to consumers
In tests, consumers in upstate New York were willing to pay more for broccoli grown in New York when they knew where it came from, Cornell University researchers found.
Should patients be considered consumers?
No, and doing so can undermine efforts to promote patient-centered health care, write three Hastings Center scholars in the March issue of Health Affairs.
Consumers choose smartphones mostly because of their appearance
The more attractive the image and design of the telephone, the stronger the emotional relationship that consumers are going to have with the product, which is a clear influence on their purchasing decision.
When consumers don't want to talk about what they bought
One of the joys of shopping for many people is the opportunity to brag about their purchases to friends and others.
As consumers, how do we decide what's 'best' when it's not clear?
Imagine you are choosing between two resorts for your island vacation.
Effects of ethnocentrism on consumers
Aitor Calvo-Turrientes, winner of the prize for End-of-Degree Project in Sustainability in 2015 awarded by the Faculty of Economics and Business of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz, is the author of the paper 'The valuation and purchase of food products that combine local, regional and traditional features: The influence of consumer ethnocentrism,' published recently by the prestigious journal Food Quality and Preference.
Organic consumers mean business
Groundbreaking research from Aarhus BSS shows that organic consumers are standing fast and are buying more and more organic products following an increasingly predictable pattern.
More Consumers News and Consumers Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.