Labeling as a Social Practice in Online Consumption Communities

Anja Dinhopl, Ulrike Gretzel, Andrew Whelan
  • Psychology and Marketing, January 2015, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/mar.20777

How online communities manage conflict, build cohesion and create identities

What is it about?

We use the context of vegetarians to illustrate that "labels" (how these groups refer to themselves or are referred to by others, including marketers) matters a lot because these labels are linked to actual practices and power in the marketplace.

Why is it important?

Online communities are important places for these consumers to discuss who they are and what they do. Labels allow these communities to police behaviors, distinguish themselves from other consumers, organize themselves and acknowledge changes in the practice or the community. Marketers need to understand which labels to use to communicate with these consumers and need to recognize the evolution of practices such as vegetarianism.


Dr. Ulrike Gretzel
University of Southern California

This paper shows how powerful labels are! It also demonstrates that there is a lot of confusion in the vegetarian marketplace. Practices have become very specialized. The community seems to realize that this fragmentation is not good for achieving change in the marketplace.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Ulrike Gretzel