The swing dancing world is one that has been around for a very long time. While subtle changes in fashion and dance happen from time to time, the behaviors and fashions accepted in the community tend to remain the same.
In looking at who the opinion leaders are in many fields, it seems that they are always alive. Opinion leaders are those who adopt the new trends early and they are very aware of a variety of products. Most importantly, they are perceived as credible sources.
My question is whether an Opinion leader can lead from the grave. For the world of swing dancing, the strongest opinion leader is Frankie Manning who passed away in 2009. Frankie is regarded as the king of swing and all group members look to him for what the standards should be. Frankie had a unique way of dressing and he danced like no one else. Even though he has passed away, members of this group still watch youtube videos, read books, and compare experiences they had with Frankie. All of this knowledge is compiled to become what swing dancers consider the norm. Marketers often use Frankie’s face or norm when trying sell products to this group. However, swing dancer’s are smart and savvy people and we often know everything there is to know about Frankie. As a result, there are a ton of competition for selling the few products that Frankie endorsed but if one can establish him/herself as the market leader, he/she has a huge market to sell to.
The swing dancing world has very strong ties and density. The members know each other very well because they spend most weekends together. New members are easily thrown in to the mix and accepted. The group members span huge age gaps and are from all types of backgrounds and locations. Because of this members easily fit in and feel like they are a part of the group. This also means that members try to conform as quickly as they can. There are certain dress expectations that are highly recommended and there are dancing behaviors that expected to be upheld. Conformity is key for incoming members. Because of this, there is a high brand-choice congruence. Members who are highly involved will quickly purchase all the products that are common amongst dancer especially dance shoes. Dance shoes not only serve a practical purpose but also a social purpose. If one does not have the right shoes, they stick out amongst all the other members.
Because members are so close, WOM is easily the strongest way of advertising. Vendors and companies can either rise to the top or plunge into the red with only one good or bad sale. There are current reference groups that are still living. Many dance instructors are regarded as the best in the community and newer members look to them for new moves, music, and even fashion.