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User-Generated Content

GEORGE CHRISTODOULIDES Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham

COLIN JEVONS Department of Marketing, Monash University

Insights from Pete Blackshaw Chief Marketing Officer NM Incite

The Voice of the Consumer Speaks Forcefully in Brand Identity


User-Generated Content Forces Smart Marketers toListen
User-generated content (UGC) is attracting a great deal of interestsome of it effective, some misguided. This article reviews the marketing-related factors that gave rise to UGC, tracing the relevant development of market orientation, social interaction, word of mouth, brand relationships, consumer creativity, co-creation, and customization, largely through the pages of the Journal of Advertising Research over the last 40 (or so) of its 50 years. The authors then discuss the characteristic features of UGC and how they differ from (and are similar to) these concepts. The insights thus gained will help practitioners and researchers understand what UGC is (and is not) and how it should (and should not) be used.

INTRODUCTION What Is UGC? User-generated content (UGC) is a new term so new that, in early 2011, the Oxford English Dictionary , which derives its definitions from public usage, had not yet published a definition. It is an area of consumer engagement wherein academia has led public practice. According to one theory, UGC is defined as consumers creating content that: is made available through publicly accessible transmission media such as the Internet; reflects some degree of creative effort; and is created for free outside professional routines and practices (Christodoulides, Jevons, and Bonhomme , 2011).

In fact, the concepts that underlie and lead to UGC as we currently understand it have been around for some time. As one example, a Google/ YouTube Life in a Day experiment (the public was invited to record aspects of a specific day that would be edited into a feature film for release at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival) differs little in concept from the funniest home videos television programs that rose to popularity in various countries during the 1990s. And, the Day in the Life... genre began in 1981 with conventional print as seen in A Day in the Life of Australia product. The adaptation by nonprofessionals of a commercial idea is one of the ways in which UGC is spawned. In 1995, A. Armstrong and J. Hagel III were among the first to differentiate between March 2011 Supplement JOURNAL

DOI: 10.2501/JAR-51-1-101-111

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In fact, the concepts that underlie and lead to UGC as we currently understand it have been around for some time.
commercially published materialin three main motivations for the creation of such ads: Intrinsic enjoyment, wherein the

jointly produced between the firm and consumers) Empowerment (the extent to which the brand is perceived to empower consumers) Self-concept (the extent to which the brand is perceived to match the consumers self-concept; in this case, UGC creation is used as a vehicle to communicate ones self-identity) Community (the extent to which the brand is perceived to foster a community of consumers; in this case, UGC creation is about interacting with a community and developing a sense of belonging. Through survey data collected from creators, the authors show that involvement with UGC affects consumer brand perceptions by proxy of consumer-based brand equity. SUMMARY OF RESEARCH Factors Giving Rise to UGC Marketing communications have developed in response to changes in society, business, and technology. Before the Second World War, mass communication largely was restricted to print media; it was not until the rise of electronic media that creatfull-service advertising agencies reached a viable niche. Beginning in the 1990s, many marketers began shifting from one-to-many communications to one-to-one relationships grounded in relational databases, the targetabililty offered media fragmentation/ proliferation, and the emergence of interactive Internet technologies. More recently, in the postWeb 2.0 era, the emergence of interactive mobile technologies, online social networks, and virtual worlds have caused a further shift in how advertising is created and received (Ewing, 2009). The literature in the Journal of Advertising Research and elsewhere over the last

their example, news reportingand UGC. And predating their study were examples of highly personal, subjective gonzo journalism popularized by Hunter S. Thompson and now facilitated by the ability to communicate globally without gatekeepers. UGCs fundamental features have been in practice for many years, but new technology has made them more visible and influential. According to e-marketer (2009), there were 82.5 million UGC creators in the United States in 2008a number expected to rise to 114.5 million by 2013. The consumption side of UGC also is expected to increase from 116 million in 2008 to 155 million in 2013. The shift in communications from a oneway one-to-many model represented by traditional advertising toward a manyto-many, interactive model has been well documented (Hoffman and Novak, 1996). The new communications environment, however, has thrown up even more novel ways to create and deliver value. Google, for instance, built its success from its accurate analysis of the links that consumers generate among Web pages. And, although the act of making these links is not sufficiently creative to perfectly fit the definition of UGC, its reliance on understanding consumers thinking is indisputable. The literature specifically about UGC creation is limited and primarily focuses on creators motivations to generate UGC (e.g., Berthon, Pitt, and Campbell, 2008; Daugherty, Eastin, and Bright, 2008; Christodoulides et al., 2011). Focusing on consumer-generated ads, one study identified

focus is on the development of an advertisement created simply for the purpose of self-expression Self-promotion, whereby consumers draw on a brand to promote themselves Change perceptions, wherein the goal is to make other consumers view the brand differently (Berthon et al., 2008). Using functional theory, another study postulated the existence of five motivational sources for creating UGC (Daugherty et al., 2008): Utilitarian function (e.g., generating UGC for monetary incentives) Knowledge function (e.g., producing UGC to understand the environment and ultimately ones self) Value expressive function (e.g., creating UGC as a form of self-expression) Ego-defensive function (e.g., ing UGC to achieve a sense of belonging and/or to reduce guilt from not participating) Social function (e.g., creating UGC to share and interact with a community). In a paper scheduled for publication in the Journal of Advertising Research, the authors of this paper and J. Bonhomme identify four antecedents of brand-related UGC creation: Co-creation (the extent to which the value of a brand is perceived to be

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50 years falls largely under the following headings. Market orientation Market orientation recognizes the rise of consumption communities and the acceptance of word-of-mouth advertising as a legitimate brand driver. Together, the forces have shifted power away from the marketer toward the consumer. Customer orientation relies on a sufficient understanding of ones target buyers that enables continuous value creation for those audiences (Narver and Slater, 1990) and the creation of an augmented product (Levitt, 1980). A customer orientation requires that a seller understand a buyers entire value chain (Day and Wensley, 1988), not only at any given moment but as it evolves reacting to both internal and market dynamics. In 2011, the rise of UGC through electronic media represents the latest market dynamic. Market-sensing activity leads to the active acquisition and distribution of information about the needs of the marketspecifically, how it is segmented, how relationships are sustained, how the intentions and capabilities of competitor come into play, and how the roles of channel partners evolve (Day, 1994). Market-sensing capabilities determine how well an organization is equipped to sense changes in its market and to anticipate the responses to marketing actions. A mass of people forming a market, of course, can be wiser than specialist experts (Surowiecki, 2004); crowds can be wise if there is diversity of opinion, independence, decentralization, and aggregation. Likewise, poorly managed organizations can fail to sense these market insights. Even organizations such as

Marketing communications developed in response to changes in society, business, and technology.


Nike can make this kind of mistake: when one consumer ordered shoes embroidered with the word sweatshop, Nikes inadequate response quickly generated a great deal of negative social media. Crowdsourcingthe ability to tap the positive creativity of enthusiastic amateurs in problem solvingis a concept that has grown out of the presumed wisdom of crowds (Howe, 2008), and its utility is demonstrated by its use by the likes of such large organizations as Procter & Gamble. Social chat Moving now from markets to individuals, UGC is created by consumers to communicate with others. The brilliantly clear statement that people are the killer appattributed variously to Pavel Curtis and/or Yossi Vardi in about 1995points out that its not the technology itself but the way that people use it that adds value. Alexander Graham Bells telephone had little use as a stand-alone device; its success came only as an interactive medium (Hagel and Armstrong, 1997). In the early days of the Internet, the credibility of advertising appeals was at an all-time low, and Americans were becoming more focused on relationships with brands (Keller, 1994). The implication, at the time, was that brands had to adapt and get closer to the consumer. In 2000, participant authoring described the process of users engaging in a collective creative process that shared responsibility and distributed power more evenly than in the past (Jensen, 2000). Word of mouth Although theoretically distinct (Cheong and Morrison, 2008), the concepts of the dissemination of UGC often rely on word-of-mouth (WOM). Early in the history of the Journal of Advertising Research, J. Arndts 1968 paper, Selective Processes in Word of Mouth, demonstrated that the medium is an important source of consumer information. As K. Hung and S. Yiyan Li observed in their 2007 Journal paper, The Influence of eWOM on Virtual Consumer Communities: Social Capital, Consumer Learning, and Behavioral Outcomes, advertising professionals have long known the important role of opinion leaders whose post-purchase WOM exerts a strong influence on information March 2011 Supplement JOURNAL SixDegrees.com (based on the popular premise that almost everyone is just six friendship links away from any other person) launched in 1997 as one of the first recognizable social-network sites. Users could create profiles, list their friends and, a year later, examine shared friends lists (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). By their very nature, blogs typically are consumer-to-consumer platforms (Zhao, Fang, and Whinston, 2006 cited in Chun-Yao, Yong-Zheng, Hong-Xiang, and Shin-Shin 2007), and, to that extent, share some of the characteristics of social networks. Although they are not necessarily interactive, their inclination to communicate with creativity enables them to fit into the definition of UGC, if for no other reason than that they are passing on word-of-mouth observations to their readers.

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dissemination (Goldenberg, Libai, and Muller, 2001); product judgments (Herr, Kardes and Kim, 1991); consumer satisfaction; repurchase intentions (Davidow, 2003); and customers lifetime value (Hogan, Lemon, and Libai, 2004). In the early 1990s, virtual communities were identified as social phenomena that were changing the way people communicated and related to one another (Rheingold, 1993; Hung and Yiyan Li, 2007). Indeed, digital WOM was affecting consumer learning (product knowledge development, persuasion knowledge development) and behavioral outcomes (consideration set, consumer reflexivity) (Hung and Yiyan Li, 2007). In a 1966 Harvard Business Review paper, E. Dichter asserted that the primary reason for engaging in WOM was involvement with product, self, other, or a message. The understanding that WOM is more credible than many commercial messages was clearly shown in Word-of-Mouth in Low-Risk Innovations, J. Sheths groundbreaking 1971 Journal of Advertising Research article. Further, other studies pointed out that customer interactions driven by WOM could have a major impact on consumer response not only to a product but to the accompanying advertising (Hogan et al., 2004). One 2009 research project found that 20 percent of WOM discussions referred to paid advertising in media and hypothesized that conversations that are advertising influenced WOM conversations are significantly more likely to involve recommendations to buy or try a brand when compared with other WOM discussions about brands (Keller and Fay, 2009). In an advance that perhaps showed that interactive WOM was becoming mainstreamno longer driven by an

In the early 1990s, virtual communities were identified as social phenomena that were changing the way people communicated and related to one another.

information-rich,

highly

connected

(Observations: Building Brand Equity by Managing the Brands Relationships, 1992) and was published in the Journal of Advertising Research 6 years before S. Fourniers highly regarded paper. Blackston argued that although the consumer is an active participant in the creation of brand equity and an equity partner in the brand, the reality was that most research on the topic reflected a command and control approach to brand management whereby marketers wanted to control everything about the image of their brands (Biel, 1992). Through a process colorfully labeled Mind Cuckoo Branding, brand managers seemed to rely heavily on mass communications (predominantly advertising) to try to influence consumers and pass on a desired image for their brand (Mitchell, 2001). The assumption (or hope) was that consumers would receive the image passively and that this image would prevail over images of competitive brands at the critical time of purchase. Under this modern cultural engineering paradigm of branding (Holt, 2002), UGC was clearly not welcome, as it potentially would have resulted in the construction of a unique brand meaning uncontrolled by the legal owners of the branda trap that could be even more troublesome were the conversation to alter the image of that brand. Most managers preferred to play the role of brand guardians, acting to protect the public meaning (or image) of their brand (Blackston, 1995).

eliteone study revealed that most people are moderately connected and are every bit as willing as the highly connected to share marketing messages with others (Smith, Coyle, Lightfoot, and Scott, 2007). The effect of WOM can be asymmetrical; one recent study found that positive WOM was four times more common than negative WOM and also had a positive impact on those it reached; by comparison, the effects of negative WOM were small and insignificant (Romaniuk, 2007). When a strongly negative WOM item about a brand goes viral, however, the damaging effect is not just on the brand itself but on competing brands in the category and the category as a whole (Dahln and Lange, 2006). Many senior business managers executives whose career paths included few intersections with digitally driven practiceshave little experience with the kind of technology available to businesses in 2011. But consumers between the ages of 24 and 44 treat the Web as a way of life, and these are the most influential people in driving consumer purchase decisions. Brand relationships As people are drawn together, they form relationships. The idea that consumers form relationships with brands and that these relationships may constitute a significant component of brand equity was developed by M. Blackston

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The Journal of Advertising Research published some seminal articles early in the study of brand equity (e.g., Farquhar, 1990; Baldinger, 1990; Biel, 1992; Blackston, 1992; Crimmins, 1992; Cook, 1992) underlining the significance of this intangible, market-based asset that results from the additional value that the brand endows to the product. These early works stimulated a substantial stream of research on the topic, shaping the understanding of the role and value of brands in the marketplace and in society. In 1997, William Cooks World-Wide Wake-Up Call editorial in the Journal of Advertising Research alerted the advertising and marketing communities to the ability of the Internet to help counter the power asymmetry between marketers and consumers. Cook noted that the Web was changing the way consumers participated in the communications process. He continued, however, that even more important was the empowerment facilitated by Internet technology that was giving rise to a new breed of consumer. That individualmore demanding and more participativebecame known as prosumer (producer and consumer). This prosumer is able to modify the process of sales and services and enrich and even control the communications processas potentially played out a decade later with the spread of UGC. Consumers who participate in brand discussions do so for intrinsic enjoyment, for self-promotion, or as a deliberate attempt to change other peoples perceptions of a product or service (Berthon et al., 2008). With the option to share opinions available for almost every product category, consumers have become familiar with tools that allow them to mesh, alter, and share brand contenteffectively seizing control of their favorite brands.

Consumers who participate in brand discussions do so for intrinsic enjoyment, for self-promotion, or as a deliberate attempt to change other peoples perceptions of a product or service.

In this environment, marketers are left with little choice but to engage with consumers through compelling experiences aiming to inform, educate, or entertain (Edelman, 2007). Creating UGC campaignsmore specifically, brand-related groups on social networking sitesshould be a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Marketers need to develop an engaging experience that is in line with the values of the brand and use a variety of media and platforms to bring the effort to life. Some excellent examples include Coke and FIFA in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup. To further enhance the experience, marketers should encourage consumers to generate their own content for brands, ultimately empowering them (individually and collectively through engaged communities) to claim ownership of the branded content and, consequently, of the brand per se. As D. Edelman argued in From the Periphery to the Core: As Online Strategy Becomes Overall Strategy, Marketing Organizations and Agencies Will Never Be the Same, a 2007 paper in the Journal of Advertising Research, engagement means people want to spend time with your marketingplay with it, learn from it, transform it, share it, or take it with them. The prevalence of UGC means that the nature of the relationship between brands and consumers has changed

irrevocably. UGC allows consumers to transform and play creatively with a brand. Creative consumers UGC requires some degree of creative effort (Christodoulides et al., 2011). The importance of creativity in marketing communications (especially in the context of advertising agencies) is well documented in the literature (West, 1993; El-Murah and West, 2004). The notion of creative consumers, however, is relatively new. In 1980, E. Hirschman first defined consumer creativity very broadly as the problem-solving capability that may be applied toward consumptionrelated problems. At the time, it was all but inconceivable for consumers to be so actively engaged in the marketing communications process. A 2007 definition is more suitable for contemporary conditions in that it takes into account the new challenges resulting from consumers increasing involvement in value-chain activities (Berthon, Pitt, McCarthy, and Kates, 2007). The authors define creative consumers as individuals or groups who adapt, modify, or transform a proprietary offering such as a product/service or its communications. Though creative consumers represent and welcome opportunity brands in terms of product- or brand-related ideas, the downside is the considerable damage negative comments can do.

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The development of Internet technologiesespecially the advent of Web 2.0 and peer-to-peer applicationsprovides unprecedented opportunities for consumers to become creative. And open-source software further enables consumer engagement as codes can be adapted and extended by any interested programmer (Cromie and Ewing, 2008). Because of consumer creativity, marketers have discovered not only that organizations are capable of creating value but that UGC can generate value not just for brands but for other consumers as well. To be able to capture the value of these creative consumers however, managerial mindsets and business models need to change (Berthon et al., 2007): consumers must be welcomed to the brand as co-consumers. Co-creation-customization The notion of customers being co-producers of products and services is not new (Wikstrm, 1996); mentions of customer as co-producer have appeared frequently in marketing-research literature (Davidow and Malone, 1992; Grnroos, 1990; Gummesson, 1993; Pine, 1993; Toffler, 1980, 1983) and preceded the service-dominant logic of marketing (Vargo and Lusch, 2004). Before the Internet, the concepts of co-production and customization predominantly were applied to industrial markets wherein there were fewer and bigger buyers or in services that necessarily required the participation of customers in the service process (e.g., getting a haircut or participating in health care). At the time, it was economically unfeasible to offer opportunities for co-creation for most mass-produced consumer goods. Co-production, though differing from UGC, still is an intensely collaborative process (Wikstrm, 1996). It does not concern the consumer taking control of the product entirely or modifying the content outside the parameters set by the brand. Where mass customization is offered by a brand (such as in the case of NikeID.com or MyMuesli.com), the customer can use creativity only in selecting from a brand-defined limited menu of choices (or combinations of choices). By being involved in the production of a product, consumers are likely to be more engaged with the brand, resulting in higher value compared to a
Authors note: Blackston was the first to recognize the importance of consumerbrand relationships; many other academics followed. In his 1992 Journal of Advertising Research article, he suggests that marketers embrace consumers as equal partners and move away from their preoccupation with transmitting images that has dominated brand communications for years. Brand image only reflects one component of the consumerbrand dyad. Through user-generated content, marketers can learn a lot about how consumers resonate with brands.

Classic Excerpt: User-Generated Content

Observations: Building Brand Equity by Managing theBrands Relationships


Max Blackston
relationship. There are two independent sets of things going on that we must find in the consumers mind: the brand as the object of attitudes and the subjective brand with its own set of attitudes. What it means is that, in designing and engineering our brands, we have to look beyond our traditional preoccupation with transmitting objective brand images. In advertising, we have become very skilled at crafting the images we want to project. Our advertising copy tests and tracking studies inform us that consumers get the message. But, we need to spend just as much effort in creating and communicating the correct attitudes and behaviors of our brands, because it is these which create meaning out of the message. Max Blackston, Observations: Building Brand Equity by Managing the Brands Relationships. Journal of Advertising Research, 32, 3 (1992): 7980.

The consumer is an active participant in the creation of equity. We might even call the consumer an equity partner in the brand. With a brand relationship too, the real question we need to ask is: What does the consumer think that the brand thinks of them? As with a relationship with another person, its all in the mind, in this case, the consumers. That is the difference between a onedimensional brand image and a brand

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traditional transaction process whereby buyers and sellers would interact only briefly to exchange cash for finished goods. The deeper interaction resulting from co-production enhances the level of creativity for both consumers and marketers, potentially giving rise to fresh ideas and new ways of conducting business. A Walkers campaign in the United Kingdom inviting consumers to suggest a new flavor of crisps is an example of how consumer input in the product-development process can be valuable to both parties. Technological developments also have facilitated mass customization of communications (Lavidge, 1999). To take full advantage of the opportunity, marketers need to obtain individualas opposed to or instead of mass, segment, or nicheinformation about consumers to enable them to emotionally connect with individuals. Furthermore, interrupt and repeat models of advertisingcommonly used in traditional mass-media environmentsare not appropriate for the interactive environment. Replacing the traditional methods of engagement are three new advertising models: on demand, engagement, and advertising as service. All three are centered around relevance. And, even though the constructs and demands of the models are different, they share a focus on dynamic relationships between brands and consumers, insights into consumers through rich behavioral and attitudinal data, and support from technology (Rappaport, 2007)all notable similarities to UGC. The shift from one-to-many to many-to-many communications models exemplified by the Internet and related interactive technologies means that the communication flow is no longer uni-directional (from sender to receiver). Instead, several interactions can take

Furthermore, interrupt and repeat models of advertisingcommonly used in traditional mass-media environmentsare not appropriate for the interactive environment.

place not just between consumers and marketers but within communities of consumers (Hoffman and Novak, 1996). More interestingly, consumers also have access to tools that allow them to create their own media content and to disseminate it easily and quickly. Broadband and peer-to-peer technologies allow consumers to create and share their opinions and experiences regarding brands with other consumers through blog entries, sounds, videos, product reviews, and the like. TripAdvisor, for example, is the largest on-line travel community, with 34 million monthly visitors and more than 35 million reviews. UGC, in the form of reviews, has become such an integral part of the site that the average traveler reads dozens of reviews before booking a hotel. As involvement with brand-related UGC arguably is a consumption-related activity (Christodoulides et al., 2011), applying a typology of consumption practices to UGC generates interesting results (Holt, 1995): First, UGC as an experience involves intrinsic enjoyment arising from creating/viewing UGC. The entertainment value of watching a spoof advertisement or configuring a car manifests consumption as experience. UGC as integration involves consumers taking a brands name, logo, or

symbol and imbuing their own meaning through personalization or adaptation. A Theres Nothing like Australia official tourism promotion campaign (www.theresnothinglikeaustralia.com) that sought UGC contributions generated a number of adaptations and spoofs (see www.theresnothinglikeaustralia.net) that would not have been accepted by the official site. UGC as classification involves UGC as a means to include (or exclude) people from a community. Some people, for example, create UGC to associate (or distance) themselves from a brand or an idea. CRITICAL QUESTIONS OF PRACTICE How does UGC differ from the phenomena that preceded (and in some cases led to) it? Books such as The Cluetrain Manifesto (Levine, Locke, Searls, and Weinberger, 2000) announced with breathless anticipation that the Web had ended business as usual and that markets were becoming conversations. Such speculation ignored the fact that it was only relatively recentlyand only in the most developed economiesthat markets had ceased being conversations in the first place. Crowds always have been wise. In 1901, when the new nation of Australia needed a flag, it did not hire a team of consultants. Instead, it found a design solution through a public competition for the new emblem. Culture-jamming emerged in the

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late 1970s, when an Australian group Billboard Utilizing Graffiti Artists Against Unhealthy Promotions (BUGA-UP) started altering slogans on tobacco and alcohol advertising billboards. Throughout much of the world, talk radio continues to be popular. And the viral growth of YouTube attests to the global enjoyment people take in sharing adventures and experience. Consumers rarely have been passive, unthinking recipients of advertising messages. And UGC is the most recent manifestation of their desire to engage. The fundamental principles of human communication have not changed, but the way in which that communication is operationalized has changed markedly. In the twentieth century, consumers have benefited from the price reductions that arose from mass production and communication; consumers in the twenty-first century are profiting from customized products and messages. Access to distribution infrastructure has been democratized through technology and is now available to anyone with an Internet connection, just as the basic technology to create UGC is available at trivial cost. Gone are the days of rigid branding characterized by narcissism, protectionism, censorship, and introversion. Consumers now demand to be actively involved in decision-making concerning their favorite brands. And, in turn, the greatest challenge for brands is how to reinvent their approach to marketing to be attractive and engaging for consumers both individually and collectively. UGC provides tangible evidence that the power asymmetry between consumers and organizations is reversing in favor of consumers. Good marketers, in tune with their markets, will welcome and benefit greatly from this; those who cling to the old paradigms of the twentieth century will suffer and fail.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS To summarize the authors recommendations for the use of UGC: Brands that wish to be proactive with UGC need to understand the different consumer motivations for UGC creation and to design campaigns accordingly. And because brands have no means to control nonendorsed UGC creation, they need to keep a watching brief even if they decide not to pursue an active UGC strategy. UGC is an important feedback mechanism that yields rich insights into particular consumers perceptions of a brand. For this reason, it should be closely monitored and analyzed. Sponsored UGC campaigns should be aligned with the key values of the brand. A theme for a sponsored UGC campaign that is incongruent with the brand message may confuse consumers and damage the brand. Brands are more likely to receive attention from creative consumers if they: foster a community around their brand; create a brand identity that consumers wish to identify with; develop brands that are customizable with the direct input of consumers.

the Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Marketing Management, International Journal of Market Research, Service Industries Journal, Marketing Theory, and Journal of Product and Brand Management. He also has guest-edited special issues on brand management for the Journal of Business Research and the European Journal of Marketing. Email: G.Christodoulides@bham.ac.uk

Colin Jevons is senior lecturer in marketing at Monash University, Australia, and holds a doctorate in brand management, his main research and teaching interest. His work has been published in the Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Business Research, European Journal of Marketing, International Marketing Review, Journal of Marketing Management, and Journal of Product and Brand Management. He also has guest-edited two special issues of the Journal of Business Research on brand management. Email: Colin.Jevons@monash.edu

Pete Blackshaw

UserGenerated Content in Context


For thousands of years, humankind has been telling its own story. Today, we are telling that story though an incessant, uninterrupted flurry of computer keystrokes and what I refer to as consumergenerated media, or CGM. This is the new currency of relationships between business and consumers, reflected in an endless stream of comments, opinions, emotions, and personal stories about any and every company, product, service, or

Acknowledgment
The authors acknowledge the financial support of Monash University and the excellent research assistance of Camilla Bond.

George Christodoulides is a senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Birmingham, U.K. His research focuses on brand management and e-marketing, particularly the way the Internet and its related technologies affect brands. His research has appeared in journals such as

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