Superfandom | Zoe Fraade-Blanar

Summary of: Superfandom: How Our Obsessions are Changing What We Buy and Who We Are
By: Zoe Fraade-Blanar


In today’s world, fans actively display their devotion towards various ‘fan objects’ – be it creative works, sports, or consumer goods. ‘Superfandom’ explores this modern phenomenon, delving into the various aspects of fandom, from fan activities, such as pilgrimages and content creation, to the emotional attachment fans establish with fan objects. However, it’s important to understand that a fan’s relationship with a product differs greatly from a traditional consumer’s, and this book will provide insights into this particular dynamic.

The Power and Complexity of Fandom

Fans are not a new concept and have existed since the earliest humans bonded over spiritual beliefs or despise for outsiders. In the 19th century, “musicomania” emerged to describe passionate devotion to opera stars and musicians. Today, fandom has developed into an intricate structure around popular culture, with more active fans and a wider range of platforms to indulge in. Accessing a “fan object” is easier, and fans have various opportunities to connect and evangelize about their passions. However, marketers must be sensitive to fans’ unique attitudes and needs to avoid backfiring engagement efforts.

The Power of Fan Culture

Fans display their devotion to popular culture through participation in various activities, known as fandom, such as dressing up as characters and writing fan fiction. Examples include Harry Potter superfans and fans of the Ravens and Red Bull.

In today’s world, fandom has become a significant aspect of pop culture and entertainment. Fans engage in various activities to showcase their devotion to their favorite object of popular culture, from sports teams to creative works and consumer goods. This phenomenon is known as fandom, and it involves participation in various fan-led activities, such as writing fan fiction, dressing up as characters, and joining online forums. Harry Potter superfans, Ravens enthusiasts, and Red Bull aficionados are among the countless examples of fan culture’s power, proving that it’s an influential aspect of modern-day society.

The Seven Categories of Fan Activities

Fans engage in seven different categories of activities that reflect their passion for a particular fan object. These categories include pilgrimages, content creation, evangelization, socialization, impersonation, rituals and traditions, and collecting. Pilgrimages involve traveling to attend events, such as conventions or book signings. Content creation includes fan fiction, websites, and movie trailers. Evangelization is about spreading the word about one’s fandom, while socialization breaks down barriers by bringing people with shared interests together. Impersonation can include cosplay or wearing fan merchandise. Rituals and traditions are invented by fans and can include pregame parties or movie nights. Collecting is another way fans show their passion by collecting objects related to their fandom. These categories of fan activities provide a sense of community and allow fans to express their enthusiasm in creative ways.

The Power of Fan Culture

Fans create external branding through the context they add to a product. Unlike regular consumers, fans value the emotional attachment they have to a product rather than just its functionality. Their opinions don’t always represent those of the general public. Fans participate in activities like posting on social media, forming groups, and creating rituals to create an intangible value around their favorite product. This context is what generates wide mainstream appeal and makes a significant impact on the product’s image. It shows the power of fan culture in shaping a product’s reputation beyond its functional value.

The Power of Fan Communities

Fan communities, also known as “families of choice,” fulfill the human need to bond over shared interests. It allows members to express their identities and signify their membership of a tribe. Apart from conveying individuality, these tribes contribute to members’ mental well-being, increasing their self-esteem and positive emotions. From wearing NASA T-shirts to being part of a sports team, the bonding experience among fan groups proves to be a fulfilling and worthwhile experience.

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