Embracing community-first: The power of humanizing commerce

Jun 15, 2023

Standing out from the crowd in the dynamic and competitive business landscape requires innovation and a fresh perspective. One powerful shift that has emerged is the rise of community-first brands. We at Experify had the honor of hosting an electrifying event at  LA Tech Week*, where visionary founders, investors, and industry leaders converged to explore the future of commerce through a human-focused, community-driven lens.

The overwhelming response of over 300 RSVPs exhilarated us, although we faced the challenge of accommodating a limited number of participants – only 70 fortunate individuals. But fear not! We have distilled the event's essential insights and key takeaways so that you won't miss out.

What does it mean to be community-first?

At its core, being community-first means placing the needs, values, and experiences of your customer community at the forefront of your brand. It's about fostering a deep sense of belonging and engagement among your customers, creating a space where they can connect, share, and contribute to your brand's growth and success. As one of our participants eloquently put it:

"These brands understand that building a strong and loyal community is not just about selling products or services. It's about creating a genuine connection and establishing a relationship built on trust and authenticity."

Harley Davidson and Sephora are the ultimate OGs when it comes to community-first brands, and companies like Peloton have championed this shift further. As the lines between products blur in increasingly commoditized markets, the distinctive advantage for any brand, or indeed any business, will lie in harnessing the power of their authentic customer communities to humanize their brands. By embracing shared values, experiences, and aspirations, these brands create a sense of belonging that goes beyond the traditional customer-brand relationship.

Key takeaways from the discussions:

Building a Sense of Belonging

Brand loyalty is defined by a sense of belonging. Successful community-first brands create spaces where customers can connect, share their experiences, and find inspiration. Take, for example,  Sephora's Beauty Insider Community*, a member-only platform tied to their loyalty program or Airbnb's host community*, offering an exclusive space for hosts to connect, share insights, and support each other, further nurturing a sense of belonging within their community.

Gamification as an engagement driver

Gamification has emerged as a powerful tool to enhance community engagement. It adds an element of excitement and interactivity that keeps customers engaged and invested. Consider Strava's leaderboards and monthly challenges that motivate athletes to push their limits, or Duolingo's streaks, experience points, and badges that make language learning an engaging experience. By incorporating gamification features, brands can create captivating experiences that ignite enthusiasm and encourage continuous participation from their community.

Empowering customer co-creation

It’s also about passing the mic. One of the most compelling aspects of community-first brands is their commitment to involving customers in the product and service development process. Take for example Glossier* that effectively leveraged its Into The Gloss beauty blog readers for crowd-sourcing and product co-creation. By actively engaging customers in the ideation process, these brands foster deeper connections and gain valuable insights and feedback for product and brand development.

Shifting the marketing paradigm

Community-first brands are redefining traditional marketing approaches. They understand that conversations and relationships form the foundation of successful marketing strategies. By focusing on community engagement and leveraging social networking, word-of-mouth advertising, and sponsorship, brands like Red Bull and Harley Davidson build vibrant communities that fuel their dynamic and high-energy image.

“By placing the community at the heart of their strategies, brands can tap into the authentic power of their customers, creating a mutually beneficial relationship that propels the brand forward and sets it apart from the competition.”
- René Pfitzner, CEO of Experify

The discussions and insights shared during the event shed light on the increasing importance of community-first brands in today's evolving business landscape. At Experify, we wholeheartedly embrace a community-first approach, empowering brands to prioritize their customer communities, and unlocking new levels of growth, loyalty, and brand advocacy.

Interested in chatting more about the topic? We are happy to keep the conversation going. You can reach us here, follow us on LinkedIn for future events, and read more insights on our blog.