The research that I did for my bachelor thesis (‘FRANDS. Who are they and what do they do?‘), focused on the so called ‘frand community’. In this first blog post of mine, I would like to introduce the concept to a broader public.
The theory of the ‘frand community’ was built upon earlier research (2001) by scholars Albert Muniz Jr. and Thomas C. O’Guinn, who both have an academic background in the field of economics and business.
Your stuff wants to be on the internet
The frand community is built upon ‘fans of brands’, hence the name. There are several examples of such and they are becoming more and more popular. In recent years internet entrepreneurs are realizing that ,,your stuff wants to be on the internet.” ,,Where Google is an index of websites, and Facebook is a database of people. We want to be the database of everything”, stated Joseph Einhorn, the founder and CEO of the company Fancy. However I am very much interested in Fancy for later research, I will focus in this publication on another website .‘Rolex Forums. The internet’s finest ROLEX community’.
Rolex Forums’ members share a common interest in a certain, obvious object. Those ‘fans’ (Jenkins 1992: 41) operate in a ‘brand community’ (wiki), a concept described as “a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand” (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001). According to the brand community, business interacts with the public. An initiative such as the Rolex Forums is certainly not controlled by the Swiss watch manufacturer. It is a grassroots movement. Here the frand community differentiates from the brand community.
A frand is an autonomous subject, who is very much aware of the world around him. A frand enjoys economic materialism. A frand fantasises about the brand, criticizes it’s products and shares photos of their collection. Unlike the most dedicated fans (Jenkins), the frand community ,,isn’t the most important thing in their lives—not even close—but neither is it trivial.”
The frand community offers an information platform to its members, on which they post pictures and videos of their favourite watches. Rolex Forums have a section ‘Reference Library’, in which frands ,,learn and contribute [in fine detail] to the knowledge base of any specific model.” Frands study the ‘amazing’ technical (horological) aspects of watches. Frands discuss vintage models. Frands create user-generated content, of their wishes for the future.