The multi-layered nature of the internet-based democratization of brand management
The evolution of the internet, including developments such as Web 2.0, has led to new relationship realities between organizations and their stakeholders. One manifestation of these complex new realities has been the emergence of an internet-based democratization of brand management. Research about this phenomenon has so far mainly focused on investigating just one or more individual themes and thereby disregarded the inherent multi-layered nature of the internet-based democratization of brand management as a holistic, socio-technological phenomenon. The aim of this paper is to address this limitation through an investigation of the various socio-technological democratization developments of the phenomenon. To achieve this aim, a balanced and stakeholder-oriented perspective on brand management has been adopted to conduct an integrative literature review. The review reveals three key developments, which together form the essential parts of the phenomenon: (I) the democratization of internet technology, (II) the democratization of information, and (III) the democratization of social capital. The insights gained help to clarify the basic structures of the multi-layered phenomenon. The findings contribute also to the substantiation of a call for a new brand management paradigm: one that takes not only company-initiated but also stakeholder-initiated brand management activities into account.
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