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Whovians, Unconditional Consumers of Dr. Who Merchandise.


The collection sales market has recorded annual sales of nearly $10 billion (, 2015) just in Internet sales. This market includes toys, of which the most famous, Star Wars figures, has loyal followers of the films among their buyers.

The Whovians are fans and collectors of products from the British series "Doctor Who," a TV show that appeared in 1961 and is still running today. The licensed Doctor Who products market has reported sales of over $100,000 (data from July 21, 2014, at Report.html) only in products related to the 50th anniversary of the series. Despite the importance of this market, there is no identification of the consumer's profile, the Whovian, who equals the rest of consumers of figures, prints, etc. or is treated under the parameters that would be used for the fans of American football.

The identification of the consumer profile, Whovian, represents an opportunity to increase sales in this segment and increase market participation in toy collecting. For many market research agencies, the fan of one series is the same as another, without distinction, however, with different characteristics and needs. That is why it is very important to distinguish among them in order to generate strategies of marketing according to their motivations, needs and pockets.


Fandom as Consumers

Fandom is a word formed by the contraction pf words Fanatic and Kingdom, and is used when we talk about a group of fans of a hobby, person or some specific phenomenon (, 2015). Fandoms are groups of eccentric fans obsessed with some particular topic, such as a television series, actors or collectibles of some kind; they are people who govern their lives from their obsession with a particular program or product (Jenkins, 2002).

Johnson (2012) adds that fandoms are "groups of eccentric fans obsessed with some topics, such as a TV series, actors, or some collectable item." Usually these persons center their lives on their obsession for the television serial or some products (Jenkins, 2013). Such fandoms create small economies called gift economies. As fans, they have the need to create societies where they give themselves and receive gifts as a show of participation and socialization within the fandom (Pearson, 2010).

The fact of being a fan implies more than just admiring or following a specific character or program, because the fans organize their activities and their daily lives according to what they admire, since they need to strengthen the relationship with the media product that is the object of their admiration and the activities, products and actions related to them (Thompson, 1995). Fans, therefore, means the active members of the fandoms are active media consumers (Jenkins, 1992) who build their own culture from popular culture (Meyer, 2007).

There are several types of fans, among which stand out the poachers who are the fanatics, who pretend to form a new concept from the already established (Jenkins, 2013). Within this group are cosplayers, cross players and fan fiction. Cosplayers are fandoms (from series, cartoons, books or fantasy products and science fiction), that pay tribute to their idols by characterizing themselves as their idols (Winge, 2006). Cross players are cosplayers, who often use their talent to play characters of the opposite sex (Leng, 2014).

Fan fiction, on the other hand, is the literature created by fandoms and fans, based on existing characters and stories (Black, 2005). This activity has been affected by the Internet era because fans have been able to reach out to share their fan fiction with more fandoms and even perform collective fan fiction (Pearson, 2010).

Nomadic fans are those who go from one fan community to another and are adaptable to each of these communities, because they are not totally loyal to a particular product or program; their level of fanaticism is fickle and changes over time (Jenkins, 1992). Contemporary authors say that fanatics are a kind of religion, almost a cult (Hills, 2002). They see fandoms as people with a rare psychological, social and behavioral illness that affects a significant number of the population (Jenson, 1992).

According to Murray (2004), this pathology is turning fans into faithful slaves to the "whims of the media and its products." These types of fans are divided into two types, obsessive fans who are people that maintain an intense fantasy relationship with a public figure, program or product (Johnson, 2012). The second type, are fans who suffer from a frenetic illness where they are a conglomeration of fandoms formed by a hysterical crowd including all frantic members of the crowd (Jenson, 1992).

For fandoms, being a fan is a way of life; they constantly read and re-read canonical material in order to be able to connect better with their community and meet their needs and desires (Hellekson & Busse, 2006). In other words, they are very loyal consumers. This interaction represents an opportunity for companies, as they, in turn, can use the fans, their knowledge and their dedication to create products that are accepted by the fan community (Murray, 2004).

Dr. Who, the Brand and the Whovians

The Oxford dictionary (2012) defines the Whovian as a fan of the British science fiction series Doctor Who. It stipulates that Whovians are people who feel a great passion for everything related to the Doctor and the series. According to Tulloch and Jenkins (1995), the series continues and will continue to attract a large number of fans and followers, because the program as well as its protagonist has been regenerating over time.

Doctor Who is one of the greatest brands owned by the BBC. His adventures can be seen in more than 200 countries (BBC World Wide Annual Review, 2014). The show is so important that to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, the Office of the Royal Mail, launched a series of commemorative postcards, in which the 11 existing Doctors appearing to date, and their adventures, were remembered. These prints are collectable products currently (, 2015).

Brand Loyalty & Consumer Behavior

Gronbach (2008), types consumers according to the generation to which they belong. Consumers of this millennium are people who grew up using technology, who pay attention to environmental problems and have some immunity from the efforts of marketers. Adding to these groups of consumers are consumption tribes, fandoms or others who share a lifestyle and who can identify with each other through a common loyalty to an activity or product with which everyone is identified (Solomon, Bamossy, & Hogg, 2006).

This identification with the products in turn creates integration and identification among members who are participants in the group. These forms of integration and identification include emotions, beliefs, morals, lifestyles and, of course, the products they consume as part of their affiliation to the relevant consumer tribe (Solomon, Bamossy & Hogg, 2006).

Some authors present that consumer behavior factors can be divided into three areas (Arens, Weilgold, & Arens, 2008):

1) Interpersonal influences

2) Impersonal influences

3) Personal processes, which, when unified, result in purchase

Interpersonal influences are those that relate to the family, the social and cultural aspects. They have the capacity to impact the consumers at the moment of making decisions. The impersonal influences are those that relate more to the environment, the moment and the place (Hoyer & MacInnis, 2010).

In addition to this, there are internal personal processes, among which is age, stage of the life, style of life, personality and self-concept (Kottler & Keller, 2012). The seller and his persuasive power over the customer, the advertising which the consumer is exposed to, the price and the product itself, are factors influencing consumer behavior at the time of purchase (Kottler & Keller, 2012).

Although culture, reference groups and personality have an influence on the consumer (Belch & Belch, 2004), there is another concept that works as a link at the time of consumption: motivation (Schiffman et al., 2010). Other authors suggest that consumer behavior meets the way people perceive, accept and remember the stimuli of advertising and marketing (Arens, Weigold, & Arens, 2008).

Kotler and Keller (2013) define brand loyalty as the tendency to continue to acquire a product, something intrinsic in the consumer, which can be studied, manipulated, but not changed, since there is greater satisfaction with whatever may be offered by another product.

According to the studies carried out, there are four levels for the classification of brand loyalty: two levels focused towards behavior and two levels towards commitment (Denison & Knox, 1993), which are linked between the relative attitude towards the brand and purchase repetition.

There are both internal and external factors that influence consumer decision-making. These include social culture, that is, the norms, ideas, influences, social class, personality and lifestyle they have (Hoyer & MacInnis, 2010), family and society, time, place, motivation, environment, age culture, educational level, social class, among others (Arens, Weilgold, & Arens, 2008). Colmenares and Saavedra (2007) state that such levels of loyalty include true loyalty (high commitment and probability of purchase); latent loyalty (high commitment and low probability of purchase); feigned loyalty commitment and high probability of purchase); and non-existent loyalty (low commitment and low probability of purchase) (Dick & Basu, 1994).


The present qualitative research was performed in Whovian conventions and clubs in the state of California. The technique of random sampling, non-probabilistic, with the purpose of obtaining representative data with the possibility of less bias was used. The following hypothesis was generated:

H1 The consumption of Whovian products is directly influenced by the need for social belonging and social acceptance in their circle.

H2 The consumption of Whovian products is influenced by the level of participation Whovians in exhibitions, conventions and clubs.

H3 The Whovians buy their products primarily at conventions and not via the Internet.

H4 The Whovians would continue to buy products related to Doctor Who, even if the program was canceled.

The independent variables are repurchase, emotional bond, investment, satisfaction and involvement, while the dependent variable is brand fidelity, because for brand fidelity there must exist the five variables mentioned.

From a sample of 426 surveys given to selected people in the conventions and Whovian clubs, the participants were persons from the state of California who claimed to possess a strong liking, taste or devotion for the British series. Only 90 of the surveys were fully completed. The population of Whovians could be classified as Hispanic, regardless of nationality. All of them were legally residents in the state of California.

According to the methodological procedure, the reliability test was carried through the Cronbach's alpha, which shows the adequacy measure in a percentage range, being closer to 100%. The measure is based on a weighted categorization of the responses provided by the study subjects. The level of reliability is 90.3%, reason why, so it is possible to say that the reliability of the survey is good and it can be confirmed that the instrument was correctly applied in a random mode with a high degree of trust. For better analysis, the KMO test shows that the variables used are highly correlated, with a sampling adequacy measure of 70.1%, which indicates that there are conditions to perform multivariate analysis of data.

To observe in more detail, a linear regression was performed, taking into account the calculated factor that conglomerates the totality of items with which they form the two sections of the survey that was required to objectively analyze the Whovian behavior. Hypothesis number 1 was rejected, because the Californian Whovian community does not make purchases through internet. However, they do make purchases in specialized stores or comic stores.

In Table 1, it can be seen that the value of variable B1, which according to the questionnaire constitutes the feeling of belonging to the group when purchasing the official goods of Doctor Who, regardless of which channel does shows it, is the most representative in terms of the quadratic mean. This means that the hypothesis is completely accepted. Likewise, when the contrast was realized, the levels of significance were maintained at zero, indicating that there is a high validity of the variables used. At the same time, it also can be observed that in addition to feeling good the fact that when you buy Doctor Who products, it gives you the feeling that you are being given more value to the personal collection, represented by item B12, in addition to allowing them to learn more about the world of Doctor Who, according to the information obtained from item B4.

It is important to mention that although item B3, to be admired by other Whovians, is representative, its value is far from the behavior of other variables, being less important to the Whovian community.

For hypothesis 3, the behavior is not a trend in all cases. This is because the significance levels are relatively mobile, which speaks of going to the conventions. The hypothesis is confirmed. Whovians do place more value on products than to interactions with other groups of Whovians.

The primary factors for which the Whovians consume Doctor Who products is because of the emotional bond and satisfaction they receive when purchasing products or consuming services related to the brand. That satisfaction comes from a set of positive feelings generated by the emotion of added value to one's personal collection, as well as the sense of belonging and social acceptance within one's community, since purchasing products from Doctor Who not only increases the value of one's collection but increases one's knowledge of Whovians, which is subsequently processed, discussed and shared by various means.

In terms of gender and age, it was found that 57% of the community Whovians were adult men between 20 and 30 years of age with a minimum level of education, of which only 6% had Masters and none had Doctorates. They were mostly single and did not intend to get married, due to aspects that will be discussed later. Thirty-nine percent of the surveyed Whovians were women between the ages of 20 and 30. To the surprise of the researchers, it turns out that Whovians have a higher educational level, since, like most men, they have degrees and close to 10% have Master's and Doctoral degrees.

To find out what kind of products the Latino Whovians consume, the results were diverse since their belongings range from kitchen utensils, autographs and collectible figures to strange real-life replicas of the Tardis, robots and actors' clothing. However, what they buy most are toys and buildable type Lego, clothing, jewelry and jewelry whose cost ranges from $ 2.70 dollars to $ 3,000.00 dollars in the case of engagement rings.

Another interesting finding is that families often use Doctor Who as a means to socialize and, between fathers and sons, fraternize, regardless of age, because the niche studied usually go to stores, conventions and events with both parents and nephews or another relative. In talking to them, they told us that their fondness for Doctor Who is related to a past event or activity they used to perform with their parents, grandparents or uncles and it is from them that they have obtained a significant part of their collections, which was subsequently checked by analyzing the results of the questionnaire applied.

From the above, relevant points are retrieved, such as the fact that it is a way to fraternize, the sense of belonging and the aversion toward online shopping, points that will undoubtedly help to set a guideline on how to conceptualize copywriters and structures. Advertising will be aimed at their real needs and not the ones they are assumed to have.

Finally, in the ANOVA (Table 2), there is no real correlation between the purchase of products and greater satisfaction, since it can be seen that satisfaction per se is the most important and in general terms the purchase of products is discarded just as Hypothesis 4.


In conclusion, it can be said that Latin Whovians are people who don't feel attracted to digital purchases, since most of them prefer to buy their products in physical places, especially those specializing in Doctor Who products and comic shops.

It's important to point out that despite being Doctor Who fans who frequent the stores stores, the Latino Whovians obtain their collectibles via gifts, by relatives or friends, convention souvenirs or prizes won in competitions.

Another characteristic that can be observed is that the Latin American Whovian feels a greater satisfaction possessing Doctor Who products than interacting with another Whovians outside of their circle, because they believe that having Doctor Who products, especially toys, action figures and fashion accessories, makes them part of the Whovian community, at the same that the value of their collection increases. However, possessing a valuable collection gives them greater satisfaction than being admired by other member of their community.

About American Whovians interviewed are the counterpart of the Latin American Whovians, since, according to the results, North American Whovians seek admiration from the members of their community. They acquire their products mainly via the Internet and they don't have a budget limit when it comes to acquiring Doctor Who merchandise that increases their collection, unlike Latin Whovians who prefer to limit themselves when acquiring products, not forgetting that the Latin Whovians acquire their merchandise mainly via gifts or prizes. That means, they do not invest much money or time finding their articles.

Another characteristic of the North American Whovian, unlike the Latin American, is that they are very sociable. They like to meet other fans and travel both inside or outside of the country and like to put on costumes and do cosplay and cross play of their favorite characters. Although we have seen the behavior of Whovian consumers, according to the results of the instrument, it is also important to point out some of the most relevant aspects that were achieved by talking directly with the Whovians.

In general, it can be said that the Whovian community is a very committed group who feels an emotional attachment to Doctor Who and what he represents. They are a society that is always willing to help each other; it is a community that accepts everyone as part as a member of their family; they don't hesitate to help each other; they are aware of each other. An example of their community spirit is this investigation. From the moment the request to help with the investigation of the Whovian community was presented, it was graciously accepted and has been a topic of conversation. They have been interested in what the results are and if they can cooperate with something else for the sake of research.

The primary reasons Whovians consume Doctor Who is because of the emotional bond and satisfaction they receive when acquiring products or consuming services related to the brand. Such satisfaction comes from a set of positive feelings generated by emotion to add value from their personal collection, in addition to the sense of belonging and the social acceptance within their community. According to Whovians, buying Doctor Who products not only increases the value of their collections, but also increases the knowledge of Whovians.

So it can be said that the Whovian community is a group of men and women who share more than an idol and a lifestyle. The Whovian community is a congregation of men and women that share a worldview of the world around them and see it as a great opportunity to generate ideas and strategies.

According to the findings, the following is recommended:

a) Follow the study further, focusing on Whovians of different regions

b) Continue the research in-depth, with emphasis on anthropological and cultural issues

c) Use this investigation as a guide for future research about topics related to fandoms and consumer cultures

d) Implement advertising strategies from an alternative and targeted perspective


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Juan Antonio Vargas-Barraza, University of Guadalajara

Laura Adriana Martinez-Venegas, University of Guadalajara

Antonio de Jesus Vizcaino, University of Guadalajara

                   Sum of Squares  D F     Mean    F       Sig.

     Inter-groups  365.035         26.815  23.714  23.714  .000
B11  Intra-groups  393.490           .962
     Total         758.526
     Inter-groups  412.687         25.793  19.794  19.794  .000
B12  Intra-groups  532.958          1.303
     Total         945.646
     Inter-groups  237.334         14.833  10.488  10.488  .000
B13  Intra-groups  578.452          1.414
     Total         815.786
     Inter-groups  328.806         20.550  32.884  32.884  .000
B14  Intra-groups  255.600           .625
     Total         584.406


                            Sum of Squares  D F  Mean    F      Sig.

Belonging     Inter-groups    55.853         26  2.148   1.926  .005
              Intra-groups   445.013        399  1.115
              Total          500.866        425
Purchase      Inter-groups    81.170         26  3.122   1.441  .077
Original      Intra-groups   864.476        399  2.167
Products      Total          945.646        425
              Inter-groups   118.086         26  4.542   2.302  .000
Satisfaction  Intra-groups   787.314        399  1.973
              Total          905.399        425
Willingness   Inter-groups   104.432         26  4.017   1.654  .024
to relate     Intra-groups   968.723        399  2.428
              Total         1073.155        425
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Author:Vargas-Barraza, Juan Antonio; Martinez-Venegas, Laura Adriana; Vizcaino, Antonio de Jesus
Publication:Competition Forum
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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