Abstract

Consumer–brand engagement (CBE) is a priority in the current marketing agenda. However, there is still a lack of empirically based studies appraising its essence. Hence our study is aimed at investigating the distinctive characteristics and the development phases of CBE. Our study adopted Grounded Theory methodology. Data were collected throughout semi-structured interviews on a theoretical sample of 41 Italian consumers of both genders, aged between 18 and 35, all having a favourite brand belonging to different market sectors. The evidence allowed us to build a conceptual framework of the CBE construct and of its development. This framework highlights that a brand is perceived by consumers as engaging when it is emotionally lived as a ‘life mate’. Furthermore CBE emerges as a dynamic process that evolves in three progressive relational phases: friendship, intimacy and symbiosis. Hence, to engage consumers, brands should get into their life, activating them both emotionally and physically, and establishing with them a deep and authentic relationship that gets increasingly intimate, private and exclusive over time. To achieve this goal, marketers should carry out a brand strategy based on brand personification, value-based affinity and affective bonding with consumers. The original value of our study lies in that it has been designed to anchor a new marketing concept such as CBE in the deep understanding of consumers’ meaning-making processes and relationship stories with a brand to get a comprehensive picture of the construct and how it develops that may better orientate current and future marketing practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-629
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Market Research
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Grounded Theory
  • consumer-brand bond
  • consumer-brand engagement

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