Use of brand community markers to engage existing lifestyle consumption communities and some ethical concerns
This study explores how alcohol brands use markers of brand community (consciousness of kind, rituals and traditions, and moral responsibility) to engage existing lifestyle consumption communities. Drawing on consumption community and ethics theory, the article examines the interface between brands and a lifestyle consumption community, and explores ethical issues and implications from this phenomenon. A mixed methods research case study examining alcohol sports sponsorship of the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) is presented to generate understanding of the live context and explore the use of markers of brand community to engage adolescent members of the NRL lifestyle consumption community. Evidence of consciousness of kind, and rituals and traditions relating to brand activity, was identified, but was less evident in relation to moral responsibility. The study also identified some important theoretical, practical, and ethical implications. This research addresses a significant gap in the current literature by identifying how community markers can be used by brands to engage existing lifestyle consumption communities, and distinguishing ethical implications that warrant attention.