As fandom sheds its longtime stigmas of geekiness and hysteria, fans are demanding more from the celebrities and brands they love. Digital tools have given organizations—from traditional businesses to tech startups—direct, real-time access to their most devoted consumers, and it’s easy to forget that this access flows both ways. This is the new “fandom-based economy”: a convergence of brand owner and brand consumer. Fan pressures hold more clout than ever before as audiences demand a say in shaping the future of the things they love.
In Superfandom, Zoe Fraade-Blanar and Aaron M. Glazer explain this new era of symbiosis. For producers, it can mean a golden opportunity: brands such as Polaroid and Surge, preserved by the passion of a handful of nostalgic fans, can now count on an articulate, creative, and, above all, loyal audience. Yet, the new economy has its own risks—it’s also easier than ever for companies to lose their audience’s trust, as Valve did when it tried to introduce a paid mod system for its Skyrim video game.
Examining key cases that span a wide range of consumer markets, Fraade-Blanar and Glazer explain why some kinds of engagement with fans succeed and some backfire. Throughout, the authors probe fandom’s history, sociology, and psychology. From the nineteenth-century American Alice Drake, who bribed her way into the houses of her favorite European composers, to Hatsune Miku, the Japanese virtual celebrity whose songs are composed entirely by fans, the dynamics of fandom—the activities we perform to show we belong to a group of people with common interests—may be as old as culture itself.
For groupies of financier Warren Buffet and enthusiasts of Cards Against Humanity alike, the consumer relationship has been transformed. Superfandom is an essential guide for those who care about, contribute to, and live in our rapidly expanding fan-driven economy.