Why the future of marketing is community-based

As we navigate the intricate maze of marketing strategies, one concept is gaining unprecedented traction: community-based marketing. In this blog post, we'll explore why the future of marketing lies in community-centric approaches, breaking down the key elements that make it a game-changer for brands and companies.

Traditional marketing often revolved around one-way communication, with brands broadcasting messages to a passive audience. However, the landscape has shifted dramatically in recent years. Consumers now seek connection, authenticity, and meaningful experiences. Enter community-based marketing—an approach that puts the power back in the hands of the people.

Understanding community-based marketing

At its core, community-based marketing involves building a tribe of engaged individuals who share common interests, values, or experiences. It's about fostering a sense of belonging and creating a two-way dialogue between brands and their audience. 

Let's explore the main reasons why this approach is shaping the future of marketing:

1. Authenticity and trust: In an era dominated by skepticism and information overload, authenticity is non-negotiable. Building a community allows brands to showcase their human side, sharing stories and values that resonate with their audience. Take Patagonia, for instance. The outdoor apparel brand has cultivated a community of environmentally conscious consumers who not only buy their products but also champion the brand's commitment to sustainability.

2. User-Generated Content (UGC) as a driving force: Community-based marketing thrives on user-generated content—testimonials, reviews, photos, and videos created by passionate customers. Glossier, a beauty brand, leveraged this approach to turn customers into brand ambassadors. By encouraging users to share their unfiltered experiences with Glossier products, the brand built an authentic community where real people endorsed and celebrated their offerings.

3. Enhanced customer loyalty: Communities create a sense of belonging, turning customers into loyal advocates. Harley-Davidson, an iconic motorcycle brand, has mastered the art of community-building. Through events, clubs, and online forums, Harley-Davidson has fostered a tight-knit community of riders who not only buy the bikes but also become lifelong enthusiasts, proudly displaying the brand's logo.

5. Data-driven decision-making: Community-based marketing isn't just about emotional connections; it's also a goldmine of data. By actively engaging with their community, brands gain valuable insights into consumer preferences, feedback, and trends. Starbucks, for example, uses its mobile app to connect with customers, collecting data on purchasing habits and personalizing offers to enhance the overall experience.

6. Scalability and long-term value: Unlike short-lived marketing campaigns, communities provide a foundation for long-term relationships. Airbnb is a prime example of a brand that has built a global community. Hosts and guests engage in a continuous relationship, creating a scalable network that extends far beyond individual transactions. This longevity contributes to sustained brand value.

Case studies: community in action

Let's take a closer look at two brands that have harnessed the power of community-based marketing with remarkable success.

GoPro: capturing adventures together

GoPro has built a thriving community around its action cameras, encouraging users to share their adrenaline-pumping experiences. The brand's online platform features user-submitted videos showcasing extreme sports, travel adventures, and everyday moments. By celebrating and curating this content, GoPro has turned its customers into storytellers, fostering a community united by a passion for adventure and high-quality videography.

Twitch: building communities around gaming

Twitch, a live streaming platform primarily for gamers, has revolutionized how gaming content is consumed. Streamers engage with their audiences in real-time, creating interactive and inclusive communities. Twitch's success lies in its ability to turn passive viewers into active participants, with chat features and channel subscriptions. Brands like Red Bull have capitalized on this by sponsoring gaming events and creating content that resonates with the gaming community.

Peloton: transforming fitness into a lifestyle

Peloton didn't just sell exercise equipment; it created a community around the concept of connected fitness. Through live classes, virtual high-fives, and shared achievements, Peloton turned solitary workouts into a social experience. Members don't just buy a bike; they join a community that motivates and inspires them to achieve their fitness goals.

Etsy: empowering artisans worldwide

Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade and unique products, thrives on its community of artisans and buyers. By providing a platform for creators to showcase their work, Etsy has become more than just a marketplace—it's a supportive community where crafters connect with a global audience. This sense of community not only drives sales but also reinforces the platform's identity.

The road ahead: community-centric strategies

As we look ahead to the future of marketing, it's evident that community-centric strategies will continue to shape the landscape. Here are actionable steps for brands looking to embrace this transformative approach.

1. Define your brand values: To build an authentic community, start by defining your brand values. What do you stand for? What matters to your target audience? By aligning your values with those of your community, you lay the foundation for meaningful connections. You can also use our Community Identity & Value Proposition Worksheet to get started! 💡

2. Invest in online platforms: In the digital age, online platforms are the hubs of community engagement. Whether it's a dedicated forum, social media group, or your own branded app integrated with social features, choose platforms that resonate with your audience. Nike, for example, has created the Nike Training Club app, fostering a community of fitness enthusiasts who share workout experiences and achievements.

3. Encourage User-Generated Content: Give your community a voice by actively encouraging user-generated content. Create campaigns, challenges, or simply ask for stories. The more authentic content your community generates, the stronger the connection between members and your brand.

4. Facilitate real-world connections: While online engagement is powerful, facilitating real-world connections strengthens the sense of community. Host events, workshops, or meet-ups that bring your audience together. Lululemon, a yoga and athletic apparel brand, organizes community yoga classes, creating opportunities for customers to connect beyond the online realm. Read our Lululemon community case study here!💡

5. Adapt and evolve with your community: The beauty of community-based marketing lies in its dynamic nature. Stay attuned to the evolving needs and preferences of your community. Use feedback to adapt your strategies and offerings, ensuring that your brand remains a relevant and integral part of their lives.

Are you ready to embrace your community?

In the ever-changing landscape of marketing, one truth remains constant: people crave connection. Community-based marketing isn't just a trend; it's a fundamental shift in how brands and consumers interact. By prioritizing authenticity, fostering user-generated content, and building lasting relationships, brands can position themselves at the forefront of the future of marketing—one that is community-driven, data-rich, and inherently human.

Read more: What is community-based marketing (CBM)?


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