Brands launch digital communities connecting fans

Young consumers are looking for a greater sense of community both online and off as found in our recently released Home & Away Report and they're turning to brands to provide this. Lately, companies across various categories are meeting this desire by creating apps and online groups specifically for fans to connect around shared interests, including their passion for a specific brand.


Fall fanatics, particularly those who love drinking pumpkin spice lattes throughout the season, can share their appreciation for all things autumn in the Starbucks Facebook group The Leaf Rakers Society. Since launching in August, the community has attracted more than 27,000 members, who must follow rules including “no hatin’ on fall” and keeping topics “fall-themed.” The group isn’t filled with advertising, but rather, members providing recommendations to one another given their shared interest in the season and inspiring ideas for future drinks. Through the forum, Starbucks has found that members have developed a close-knit community and have come together to celebrate one another and even help each other through challenges.


For its 50th anniversary, Ralph Lauren launched the POLO app to give fans insider access to new collections and exclusive content. Beyond browsing the latest styles and shopping directly within the app, users can see vintage Ralph Lauren products and be notified as soon as they drop. Brand fans can even vote on product designs and “Ask Ralph” questions in order to create a greater human connection with the brand. Though the app inevitably encourages people to make purchases, it’s more centered around community than commerce, and bringing people with similar interests together.


This past fall, Adidas launched a social networking-style app called Tango for soccer players to showcase their skills, amass fans, and unlock rewards. The app serves as a hub for the brand’s program the Tango League, offering information on upcoming events, as well as a forum for people to connect around their love for playing the sport. Users can compete in challenges and upload photos and videos to show off their moves. Each user has a player card profile that features their progress playing and generating support around their soccer skills.