Engagement valence duality and spillover effects in online brand communities

Jana Lay-Hwa Bowden*, Jodie Conduit, Linda D. Hollebeek, Vilma Luoma-aho, Birgit Apenes Solem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Online brand communities (OBCs) are an effective avenue for brands to engage consumers. While engaging with the brand, consumers simultaneously interact with other OBC members; thus engaging with multiple, interrelated engagement objects concurrently. The purpose of this paper is to explore both positively and negatively valenced consumer engagement with multiple engagement objects, the interplay between these, and the spillover effect from consumers’ engagement with the OBC to their engagement with the brand. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on 16 in-depth interviews with OBC members of a luxury accessory brand, a constant comparative method was adopted using axial and selective coding procedures. The objective was to understand the nature of participants’ engagement with the brand, the OBC, and the interplay between individuals’ engagement with these objects. The coding framework and resultant interpretive frameworks address engagement valence, outcomes, and direction. Findings: This study illustrates consumer expressions of consumers’ positively and negatively valenced engagement with a focal brand, and with the OBC. Further, it demonstrates the interplay (spillover effect) that occurs between consumers’ engagement with the OBC, to their engagement with the brand. While the existence of positively valenced engagement with the OBC was found to further enhance consumer brand engagement (i.e. reflecting an engagement accumulation effect), negatively valenced engagement with the OBC was found to reduce consumer brand engagement (i.e. reflecting an engagement detraction effect). Originality/value: While consumer engagement has been recognized to have both positive and negative manifestations, this study demonstrates that consumers’ engagement valence may differ across interrelated engagement objects (i.e. the brand and the OBC). Further, we demonstrate the existence of engagement spillover effects from the OBC to the brand for both positively and negatively valenced engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-897
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Service Theory and Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017



  • Consumer engagement
  • Engagement objects
  • Negative engagement valence
  • Online brand communities
  • Positive engagement valence
  • Spillover contagion effects

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