The authors explore the formation of a new brand community to increase our understanding of the development of particular social networks within this overall new community. An ethnographic study was conducted among four tailgating groups of a new college team during its inaugural season. The method was chosen to gain insight into how individual consumers interacted with each other and how these early interactions contributed to the development of a brand community. To examine these interactions, social network theory was used to examine the relationships between the individuals within a larger group setting. Adopting this theoretical approach allowed the authors to observe that newly created groups follow the principles of scale-free networks, where some consumers act as leaders and others as followers. The implications for both highly committed leaders and noncommittal followers within each social network are discussed.
Matthew Katz and Bob Heere are with the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.