The History and Future of Community-Based Marketing

When you think of community-based marketing, what kinds of images come to mind? You might see your neighbourhood’s little league baseball team sponsored by the local diner (where celebratory burgers are given a special discount), or maybe you think of the contemporary communities like online entrepreneur forums, dog parenting Facebook groups, or vinyl junkie Reddit threads.

Community-based marketing has existed in some form as long as business existed, and there are many lessons to learn from this type of marketing. According to Ian Byran, author of Community-Oriented Marketing, the reduced communication barriers between marketer and customer allows companies to work with their clients. Brands using community-based marketing can identify, engage, and leverage brand advocates. Considering that 71% of millennials are more likely to purchase a product or service if it’s recommended by others, finding and working with brand advocates by way of community marketing is a valuable solution for any brand looking to strengthen their client relationships.

Find out how brands have created communities in the past and what is in store for the future of community-oriented marketing.


John Deere released the first publication of The Furrow Magazine, an agricultural journal to help farmers learn best practices, tips for using their equipment, and new strategies to succeed in business. In what is widely regarded as the first instance of content marketing, John Deere began the quarterly publication as a fresh way to connect with their customer base using content curated for their needs.


In searching for a new way to reach housewives in a one-of-a-kind manner, Procter and Gamble turned to radio dramas to build a stronger relationship with their target audience. Starting with Guiding Light and As The World Turns, “Soap Operas” become the talk of the nation. Named after the detergent sponsors of the program, Soap Operas became so popular among women that Procter and Gamble decided to start their own production company to meet the customer demand.

1950 – 1970

When Earl Tupper created the ground-breaking colourful plastic containers that have become a household name today, no one knew how to use them. With a bit of influence marketing, he decided to work with housewives to host parties to socialize with other women, brag about new recipes, and learn all about Tupperware. The hosts became not only brand advocates, but also sales associates, and sold Tupperware directly to their circles.

1990 – 2005

As more people joined the internet, a few brave brands decided to move into the wild west of online marketing. Chatrooms, blogging, and forums provided early brands the opportunity to communicate directly with their customers. Downloadable e-books became a great way for brands or individuals to build subject matter expertise through education. By building communities through digital content, companies could provide valuable information to their customers while allowing them the space to learn from and bond with each other.

2006 – 2020

Since reading the news and connecting with others became synonymous with social media, community marketing become synonymous with social media marketing. Brands live and breathe on social media to personify themselves and connect with their target audiences. With every social media – whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or even TikTok – there are unique opportunities and challenges to face. While it may be easy to find the audience on social media, it can be difficult finding unique ways to engage in an increasingly crowded space.


The lessons of creating curated content and experiences from 19th century community-based marketing, while leveraging the capabilities of technology, is already bringing the rise of private communities. While social media brought the ease of digital to community marketing, companies are restricted in their capabilities and are unable to own the data. Brand-owned communities are predicted to be the future of community marketing due to the freedoms with building a community from the ground up, with the ease of being online.


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