There are considered to be three stages of followers within a brand:

  • It starts with the ‘brand following’, continued by the ‘connectedness’, with the third and final stage being that of ‘consumer conformity’. Brand following can be described as consumers that share the same strong affiliation in a brand, create a bond or ‘relationship’ on the simple basis that they share a common interest. At this point, there is more emphasis on the brand itself with an underlying relationship between common consumers arising.
  • The second stage being that of connectedness, can be described as the brand users developing a further sense of togetherness while also initiating a stronger bond in the way that they display a sort of empathy towards one another. In this stage, users are now becoming more interested in other uses, the culture of building a community, and the apparent bond that is forming within such a community.
  • The third and final stage of ‘consumer conformity’ suggests that there is no longer any real individual consumer, but a well formed group/population. It is said that people associate themselves with groups or other people to make sense of themselves or essentially to reach self-actualisation. Through doing so, one would feel a certain level of fulfilment that helps to energise a group, providing strength and loyalty to a brand. A good example of a strong brand community within a well-known cult brand is that of the ‘Hell’s Angels’. The Hell's Angels are so devoted to Harley Davidsons that it is said within their own wedding ceremonies they use the Harley owner's manual as a replacement for the bible.
Three Stages