Supervised and unsupervised vector quantization methods for classification and clustering traditionally use dissimilarities, frequently taken as Euclidean distances. In this article, we investigate the applicability of divergences instead, focusing on online learning. We deduce the mathematical fundamentals for its utilization in gradient-based online vector quantization algorithms. It bears on the generalized derivatives of the divergences known as Fréchet derivatives in functional analysis, which reduces in finite-dimensional problems to partial derivatives in a natural way. We demonstrate the application of this methodology for widely applied supervised and unsupervised online vector quantization schemes, including self-organizing maps, neural gas, and learning vector quantization. Additionally, principles for hyperparameter optimization and relevance learning for parameterized divergences in the case of supervised vector quantization are given to achieve improved classification accuracy.