01 vivek.indd - ResearchGate

Customer Engagement: Exploring Customer Relationships
Beyond Purchase
Shiri D. Vivek, Sharon E. Beatty, and Robert M. Morgan
Using qualitative studies involving executives and customers, this study explores the nature and scope
of customer engagement (CE), which is a vital component of relationship marketing. We define CE as
the intensity of an individual’s participation in and connection with an organization’s offerings and/
or organizational activities, which either the customer or the organization initiate. We argue that it is
composed of cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social elements. Finally, we offer a model of CE, in
which the participation and involvement of current or potential customers serve as antecedents of CE,
while value, trust, affective commitment, word of mouth, loyalty, and brand community involvement
are potential consequences.
In its 2006–2008 Research Priorities, the Marketing Science Institute (MSI) called for a better understanding
of “engagement.” As “rapid changes in communications
technology as well as globalization of markets are creating communities of customers and prospects rather than
a multitude of isolated customers . . . companies are
discovering new ways to create and sustain emotional
connections with the brand . . . thus engaging customers through innovation and design” (MSI 2006, pp. 2, 4,
emphasis added). Customer engagement (CE) continues
to be a research priority of MSI in 2010–12. MSI considers
CE “customers’ behavioral manifestation toward a brand
or firm beyond purchase” (MSI 2010, p. 4). In our view, interest in engagement “beyond the purchase” suggests that
researchers need to focus on individuals who interact with
the brand, without necessarily purchasing it or planning
on purchasing it, or on events and activities engaged in
by the consumer that are not directly related to search,
alternative evaluation, and decision making involving
Shiri D. Vivek (Ph.D., University of Alabama), Assistant Professor
of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, College of Business,
Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI, [email protected]
Sharon E. Beatty (Ph.D., University of Oregon), Reese Phifer
Professor of Marketing, Culverhouse College of Commerce and
Business Administration, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL,
[email protected]
Robert M. Morgan (Ph.D., Texas Tech University), Professor of
Marketing and Executive Director for Innovation Initiatives,
Manderson Graduate School of Business, Culverhouse College of
Commerce and Business Administration, University of Alabama,
Tuscaloosa, AL, [email protected]
brand choice. This focus would also include postpurchase
activities of purchasers.
Since the early 1980s, pioneers have proposed that
relationship marketing (RM) involves “attracting” (Berry
1983, p. 25; Berry and Parasuraman 1991, p. 133) and “establishing” (Gronroos 1990; Morgan and Hunt 1994, p. 22)
relationships while also enhancing, developing, retaining,
or maintaining relationships. However, our exploration
shows that the actual RM research focus in the past two
decades has been aimed primarily at enhancing, retaining,
and maintaining relationships with existing customers,
with little attention given to attracting new customers.
The interactions in such customer–company relationships
are driven by the firm, and the outcomes of these interactions are measured in terms of the exchange of goods and
services. Thus, we believe that incorporating CE within
the RM literature will encourage more research that goes
“beyond the purchase” and that is focused on customer
(and noncustomer) experiences with the brand or product
than we currently see in the area.
Given that CE is a construct not yet fully developed in
marketing, we first collate the growing body of literature
on engagement in education and psychology; CE in practitioner literature, information systems, and marketing; and
employee engagement in psychology and management. We
then argue that CE is a component of RM, which is applicable to both offensive and defensive marketing strategies,
The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the three
anonymous reviewers. Without their constructive comments, this
paper would not have taken its present shape.
Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, vol. 20, no. 2 (spring 2012), pp. 127–145.
© 2012 M.E. Sharpe, Inc. All rights reserved.
ISSN 1069-6679/2012 $9.50 + 0.00.
DOI 10.2753/MTP1069-6679200201
128 Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
aimed at attracting, building, maintaining, and enhancing
relationships with potential and existing customers. The
findings from several qualitative inquiries, including field
interviews of executives and exploratory data from customers, aid in the development of an understanding and
definition of the nature and scope of CE, including a 2 × 2
classification matrix identifying the foci of engagement.
We finally provide a model of CE and relate it to other
important constructs.
We begin with a discussion of the existing conceptualizations of engagement and CE. The Appendix summarizes a
selected set of existing literature on these constructs from
the fields of psychology, management, information systems,
marketing, education, and practitioner literature. As the Appendix shows, researchers and practitioners in a number of
disciplines, including marketing, address engagement, but
its domain and definition are far from consistent across
these disciplines and researchers. In psychology, several
researchers define engagement, either generally (Schaufeli
et al. 2002) or in the context of work (Maslach, Schaufeli,
and Leiter 2001), role (Watkins et al. 1991), or employment
(Avery, McKay, and Wilson 2007). A review and synthesis
of the elements of engagement in the last column of the
Appendix table show that engagement is a cognitive, affective, behavioral, or social construct. Next, drawing from
the Appendix, we briefly review the literature on employee
work and role engagement, followed by the research on CE.
Each description in the table is further classified in regard
to these elements (i.e., cognitive, affective, behavioral, and
social) to indicate the broad use of the construct of engagement in the literature.
Work and role engagement has been primarily studied in
psychology. Kahn (1990) was the first to apply the concept
of engagement to work. Describing the behavior of engaged employees, he suggests that employees vary in their
expression of selves in work roles. Those who perceive
more supportive conditions for authentic expression tend
to be “engaged.” However, Maslach, Schaufeli, and Leiter
define work engagement as “persistent, positive affectivemotivational state of fulfillment” (2001, p. 417). Researchers
characterize engagement in various subfields of psychology as involving vigor (energy and mental resilience),
dedication (sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration,
pride, and challenge), and absorption (concentration
and engrossment) (Schaufeli et al. 2002); attention and
absorption (Rothbard 2001); and the opposite of burnout
(Maslach, Schaufeli, and Leiter 2001). Kahn (1990) suggests
three psychological conditions for employee engagement:
meaningfulness (value of a work goal), psychological safety
(ability to employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences), and availability (belief of resourcefulness to
engage the self).
As discussed above, researchers in the 1990s looked at
work and role engagement and defined it as a state of mind
that affects behavior. We now discuss the literature that
focuses on the study of engagement in marketing.
Customer Engagement
From the Gallup CE11 metric (2001), the Economist Intelligence Unit report (2007), and the special issues of the Journal of Service Research and the Journal of Services Marketing
on CE in 2010, the concept has evolved among practitioners
as well as academics. A collection of definitions in Table 1
suggests that there are differing conceptualizations of the
term customer engagement. Practitioners look at CE from
the perspective of the organization and define it as activities facilitating “repeated interactions that strengthen the
emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer
has in a brand” (Sedley 2010, p. 7). But academics in information systems look at CE as the “intensity of customer
participation with both representatives of the organization
and with other customers in a collaborative knowledge
exchange process” (Wagner and Majchrzak 2007, p. 20). A
more recent framework of CE in marketing segments existing customers based on their transactional relationship
with a brand (Bowden 2009). Bowden (2009) provided a
conceptual framework of CE that, although focusing only
on existing customers, suggests that customer–brand relationships and strategies for engaging customers might
differ based on whether the customers are first-time or
repeat purchasers.
Considerable conceptual and descriptive work on engagement across various disciplines exists. However, there are
gaps as to what engagement means to marketing and its
stakeholders. It is evident from the review of the literature
that no agreement exists as to the exact nature of engagement and its role in marketing. However, practitioners appear to relate it to building relationships with customers
through programs aimed as getting individuals involved
with and connected with their brand. Thus, next we address how CE can aid in filling the potential gaps in RM
research priorities.
Spring 2012 129
Table 1
Current and Expanded Domain of Relationship Marketing
Current Research Emphasis of
Relationship Marketing
Customer–organization relationships; retention of
Basis of Value
Exchange/goods and services
Driven by organizations
Fornell and Wernerfelt (1987, 1988) and, later, Fornell (1992)
suggested that marketing strategies can be categorized as
either offensive or defensive. Activities aimed at obtaining additional customers, encouraging brand switching,
and increasing purchase frequency are offensive strategies, whereas those aimed at reducing customer exit and
brand switching are defensive marketing strategies. In early
conceptualizations of RM, researchers proposed that the
domain of RM includes both offensive as well as defensive
marketing activities, directed at “establishing, developing
and maintaining successful relational exchanges” (Morgan
and Hunt 1994, p. 22). Despite the initial broad conceptualization of RM as encompassing attracting new customers
and retaining existing customers, subsequent RM research
has been largely limited to the study of defensive activities
aimed at enhancement and retention of existing customers in buyer–seller relationships based on exchange. To
substantiate this point, we searched RM articles published
from 2006 to 2011 in 20 marketing journals, identified as
either top marketing journals (e.g., Journal of Marketing)
or other journals most likely to address relationship topics
(e.g., Journal of Relationship Marketing). Of the 140 empirical articles identified as relevant, only 12 included potential
customers in their research. This clearly shows that although
the pioneers of RM included attracting the customer as a
goal of RM, subsequent research has largely ignored this
aspect. The focus of research on defensive strategies has led
to the neglect of the study and use of RM principles in offensive marketing strategies aimed at customer acquisition,
even though the service-dominant logic (Vargo and Lusch
2004, 2008) and the writings of Prahalad and Ramaswamy
Relationship Marketing with
Customer Engagement Incorporated
(Morgan and Hunt 1994; Prahalad and Ramaswamy
2000, 2003, 2004; Vargo and Lusch 2004, 2008)
Value configurations of customer and prospects, communities,
as well as organizational networks; acquisition and reten‑
tion of consumers
Use/experiences of existing or potential customers/process of
Driven by existing or potential customers, prospects, and
potentials (as well as organizations)
Experience-centric (exchange value determination is provisional
upon experience)
(2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) emphasize the importance of
experiences of both existing and potential customers
and the resulting value configurations (Vargo and Lusch
2008). The approach of Vargo and Lusch and Prahalad and
Ramaswamy suggests that RM research should address the
experiences of both existing and potential customers, as
well as the value configurations derived by these individuals and experiences.
Based on the writings of different researchers, Table 1
indicates the focus, basis of value, interactions, and outcomes of the current research emphasis of RM versus RM
with CE incorporated, which stresses the interactions with
and experiences of both existing and potential customers,
who subsequently derive value from these experiences and
interactions. The service-dominant logic supports this perspective, within which lies the construct of CE. We expand
further on these ideas below.
The greater incorporation of CE into the RM literature
will encourage researchers to consider some of the following
aspects that need greater research attention. First, businesses
spend billions of dollars on potential or future customers,
aimed at extending the value of their brand. For instance,
Microsoft and Apple provide computers to schools, creating goodwill and positive brand reinforcement. Clinique
organizes makeup workshops, called “Attracted to Color,”
twice a year to enable anyone who wishes to have an opportunity for one-on-one consultation with its makeup
experts. These efforts aim to establish CE with the brand,
whether or not a purchase is an immediate prospect. Second, many current programs are not purchase focused and
instead focus simply on achieving engagement with all
interested parties. For example, American Express, through
the Members Project, urges card members “to dream up,
and ultimately unite behind, one incredible idea. American
130 Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
Express will bring it to life with up to $5 million” (http://
Third, existing and potential customers often interact
among themselves. This interaction strongly influences
their consumption decisions, given that other customers
may be more influential than company advertising. For example, potential customers often read online reviews from
other customers and product review Web sites (e.g., www.
epinions.com) before buying a product. Fourth, CE within
the RM research will allow for consideration of the opportunities provided by organizations for interactions among
customers and prospects focused on helping them share
experiences and solve one another’s problems, such as the
baby birth or cancer seminars in many hospitals that bring
patients together who are in similar life situations. The literature on customer communities addresses some of these
issues, but the construct of CE as an important construct
housed in the RM paradigm allows for a richer view of the
interactions among organizations, organizational networks,
and existing and potential customers, in what Vargo and
Lusch (2008) call “value configurations.” This construct
(1) should be based on the experiences of all individuals
interacting with the brand, including possible customers
(i.e., individuals interacting with the brand who are not yet
in the decision-making stage), potential customers (those
who may be considering the brand), or current customers
(those who have purchased the brand), and (2) should
capture the participation of these individuals within and
outside the exchange situations. This is important because
with CE incorporated within the RM literature, relationships are not just between buyers and sellers, but between
any combination of (and among) potential and existing
customers, noncustomers, society in general, their extended
relationships, and sellers. It is through such engagement
that trust, goodwill, and commitment are developed and,
subsequently, relationships between individuals and brands
are formed (regardless as to whether they are “purchasers”
of the brand). For example, schoolchildren may become
engaged with Apple or with Apple’s computers when the
company provides schools with computers. CE meets the
above requirements and thus can contribute to ensuring
that RM research focuses on this broader domain.
To understand the views of managers in regard to CE, we
conducted in-depth interviews with a series of executives.
The data collection and analysis procedures for this explo-
ration draw from grounded theory (Corbin and Strauss
2007). The primary researcher initially obtained references
from colleagues and personal contacts and later asked early
interviewees for further referrals (i.e., snowball sampling).
The primary researcher contacted the interviewees by phone
or e‑mail and scheduled interviews at a date, time, and place
convenient to the participants. Most of the interviews occurred in the respondents’ workplace. Twenty-seven executives were contacted, of which 18 (12 men and 6 women)
agreed to be interviewed. These executives are drawn from
a range of industries; represent either business-to-business
(B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships involving services, goods, and both online and offline contexts
(such as marketing consulting, cosmetics, logistics, hospitality, and retail); and are at different hierarchical levels (supervisors, managers, senior managers, and vice presidents).
They range in age from 29 to 67 years, and in experience
from 6 to 27 years, and across multiple states. Given the
exploratory nature of this study, convenience and snowball
sampling techniques are appropriate (Ferber 1977). The
researchers asked the interviewees two questions:
1. In your opinion, what is customer engagement?
How would you define it?
2. At what point would you consider a customer “engaged” with your company?
The researchers used several methods of analysis to
arrive at the key findings from the interviews discussed in
the next section. These techniques include text analysis
of the notes taken during the interviews, coding of the
interview transcripts, key word search, and comparison
of themes identified by two independent researchers
(with the third researcher acting as a judge in case of
disagreements). The analysis increased our understanding of the elements of engagement strategy, the nature
of engagement as seen by managers, and the expected
outcomes of engagement initiatives. We briefly discuss
these findings here.
The term customer engagement is already popular in practice (Economist Intelligence Unit 2007; Verhoef, Reinartz,
and Krafft 2010). The questions asked aimed to elicit the
interviewees opinions as to the need for the construct and
its meaning to them and their business. Emphasizing the
affective element of CE, the respondents noted that engaging the customer is about building the relationship at
multiple levels:
If you have layers, multiple layers of the relationship . . . also having multiple touch points with the
customer. (Group account executive, B2C, 13 years’
Spring 2012 131
Other respondents’ statements support this view, suggesting that engagement involves having a relationship with the
firm that is deeper than just making purchases (i.e., going
beyond the purchase). Firms build such relationships by understanding the customer’s business (in a B2B context) and
their needs (in a B2C context). Several interviewees brought
out the full range of engagement dimensions (cognitive,
affective, behavioral, and social) in their discussions:
By having the relationship so strong with a client on
a level outside of the day-to-day that if a competitor
comes in that client is engaged with me as a person
and has me as the face of the company or what we
deliver. And my goal is to make sure that that client
likes me on a genuine level. To me, aside from the
obvious of continuously bringing and delivering of
new and innovative ideas, I think that builds a definite engagement with my client. . . . I probably am
the most informal person when it comes to building
relationships. I go right to the personal side, and
many times that actually helps. I have never lost any
major business. (Account supervisor, B2B, 14 years’
Customer engagement refers to the combination of
behavioral responses with an emotional context.
So the emotional context is confidence and trust,
commitment, the behavioral context is action. So
it’s looking or logging onto Web sites, continuing to
transact, engaging in a dialog on an ongoing basis.
It’s thinking about my brand. So of these, some are
measurable, some are hard to measure. (Vice president,
global loyalty, B2B, 7 years’ experience)
Although relationships are two-way, underlining the
social element of CE, often the organization takes the
initiative to engage the customer. The individual customer
may react in various ways to attempts at relationshipbuilding or engagement initiatives:
Relationships require a t wo-way, they are very
dynamic, but I would relate the concept of customer engagement to folks more on what you as
an individual or a company could do to try to
facilitate the building and the strengthening of those
relationships. Again, recognizing that it’s a two-way
avenue. (Vice president and group account director,
B2C, 10 years’ experience)
The interviews uncovered elements of a successful engagement strategy. The interviewees emphasized the need
to be genuine in building strong rapport and a trusting
relationship with the customer, often going beyond the obvious business relationship to produce deeper connections
with and engagement by the customer. It is also important
for the company to ensure that the client has a face for the
company, which many firms do by appointing key account
executives for larger accounts in B2B relationships.
Executives suggest that putting value into each communication with the customer is important in producing
successful engagement. Further, the initiatives have to be
relevant to the customer to be successful. The customer
will only be engaged if the initiatives are designed with the
customer’s needs in mind and presented with a genuine
emphasis on their relevancy to the customer. This relevancy
can only occur if the company understands the client’s
business or the customer’s needs well.
Field interviews also confirmed that engaging the customer can lead to successful marketing outcomes, such as
word of mouth, receiving value, loyalty, share of wallet,
and cross-selling:
They’ll be more proactive ambassadors of your brand.
(Senior director, B2C, 25 years’ experience)
Because they feel they are receiving value from you
greater than they are giving. (Account general manager, B2B, 15 years’ experience)
The importance of engaging customers is ensuring
that ultimately you keep them longer, you encourage
them to talk about your brand or product, and that
the customer spends more across the range of goods
and services that you offer. (Vice president, global
loyalty, B2B, 7 years’ experience)
Interviewees also suggest that organizations need to
understand what behaviors and emotional responses they
are seeking from the customer in order to translate that
into value added to the bottom line. The quotation below
suggests that although the term customer engagement is
popularly used among practitioners, managers include not
only existing but also potential customers in their thoughts
on the topic:
I could be very engaged in Maserati but I’m never going to buy one, it’s just too expensive. But I love the
brand. I love the cars, so I am engaged, but that’s not
creating value for that organization, other than I talk
about that brand with car aficionado friends of mine.
So, what does engagement mean to the organization in
the broad context of creating value? (Vice president,
global loyalty, B2B, 7 years’ experience)
In a second exploratory study aimed at consumers, we conducted a two-pronged study. First, the primary researcher
conducted two focus groups with senior undergraduate
132 Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
Table 2
Classification of the Foci of Customer Engagement
Provider Initiated
Customer Initiated
Offerings Initiated
Engagement initiated with offerings (brands, goods, or
services) by organizations. Examples: brands, goods,
services, movies, celebrities, thrift stores, Habitat for
Humanity, museums, political candidates
Engagement initiated with offerings by consumers.
Examples: yard sales, flea markets, consumer auction
Web sites, consumer donations
Activities Initiated
Engagement initiated with programs, events or activities
(beyond the organization’s offering) by organizations.
Examples: skill development programs for consumers
(e.g., learning video making), baby birth or cancer
seminars at hospitals, interactive activities on company
Web site
Engagement initiated with activities by consumers.
Examples: shopping, photography, hobbies, blogging,
cooking, traveling, music, gardening
business students in a southeastern university as part of
classroom activity. The researcher first introduced the idea
of engagement to these groups. The researcher asked the
individuals to think of something (e.g., a brand, product,
or an activity) with which they felt engaged and why they
felt this engagement. All personal experiences of engagement revolved around products, services, brands, activities,
or personal relationships. As the discussion progressed, the
researcher asked the first group to develop a statement that
reflected their engagement. The researcher then asked a
second group how well this statement reflected their idea
of engagement. The second group suggested minor revisions in the statement. The final statement is “I enjoy _____
because _____.”
Second, in a paper-and-pencil survey, the researcher asked
62 respondents to think of goods or services (such as iPod,
makeup, hotels) or organized activities (such as beauty
workshops, home improvement clinics) that they enjoyed
being involved and engaged in. An example involving the
use of an iPod was provided. Participants listed their own examples by completing the following sentence: “I enjoy _____
because _____.” In addition, they were asked to elaborate on
how and why they felt engaged with this thing.
Using convenience sampling, we collected 178 incidences
of engagement from 62 participants from different backgrounds and ages to capture the whole range of foci of CE.
Surveys were distributed and participation sought until the
results stabilized and additional data provided no new information, as recommended in qualitative research (Corbin
and Strauss 2007). The 62 participants include 36 senior
undergraduate marketing students, 7 doctoral students,
and 19 nonstudents. The student sample was obtained in
classroom or seminar settings, and the nonstudents were
contacted through e‑mail or in their homes. Twenty-eight
respondents were female, and their ages ranged from 19
to 38. The responses were text analyzed to identify the foci
of engagement.
The obtained examples of the foci of engagement suggest a broad scope for CE. CE appears to be best explained
by two dimensions—interaction with offerings versus
more general activities and initiation by customer versus
provider. Interactions with offerings involve a product
or a strong brand that people use and seem to connect
with; activities include those things that people might do
and feel a strong emotional connection with, which may
or may not involve a specific brand. The differentiation
derives from what initiates the engagement. First, the offering (or product or brand) drives the customer to engage
in an activity or interaction with the offering while in
the second case, the activity drives the customer to the
product or brand.
Second, either the provider (or organization or firm) or
the customer may initiate the interaction, recognizing that
interactions are two-way, again with the focus being on the
point of initiation. Based on these two dimensions, a 2 × 2
matrix provides the four derived categories of CE foci.
Table 2 includes interactions with offerings, such as
goods, services, and brands, where the organization or
provider initiates the engagement. Most commonly found
here are offerings that allow the customer to play an active
role in creating a unique experience, or receiving intrinsic
value from an offering. Besides high-technology products,
simpler gadgets such as digital video recorders (DVRs),
TiVo, and cell phones, and even knitting needles and sewing machines can be engaging for the customer because
of they allow the customer to use his or her imagination
and meet individual needs. Super-premium brands can
engage individuals by their status value, just as philan-
Spring 2012 133
thropic brands or political parties can engage people by
their humanitarian or social value. Table 2 presents several
other examples of provider-initiated offerings with which
individuals interact.
Table 2 also shows activities initiated by the provider,
focused on programs or events that go beyond the firm’s
offerings. This category derives heavily from customer
participation in activities such as skill development and
creative events with the firm, often on the Internet. A decade ago, Whirlpool urged homemakers to design an ideal
refrigerator for themselves, just as Nokia recently invited
customers to design a cell phone for themselves. In addition
to innovation and new product development, customers
may participate in events at malls and retail stores. Other
examples include the “experiential in-home marketing
events” (Trent 2008, p. 22) by customers of direct marketing businesses such as Tupperware and Avon or attendance
at various company-sponsored seminars.
The last column of Table 2 suggests that certain customer-initiated offerings engage other customers. Examples of
customer-initiated offerings are yard sales and flea markets,
which engage customers in large numbers and over time.
Discussions with several regular visitors to such sales suggest that visiting garage sales or flea markets is like a ritual
to them because they meet and socialize with other people
and find things they do not need but would love to have.
A similar form of engagement occurs with various online
sites that are customer initiated (e.g., Schau, Muñiz, and
Arnould 2009).
Finally, Table 2 shows engaging activities initiated by
customers, involving the use of goods, services, or organizations. A recurring example in this category is window
shopping or browsing. Other examples include hobbies
such as photography, gardening, and fishing. Further, these
activities obviously involve firm offerings but the activity
is the focus and initiation point and the use of a firm’s
offering follows. Several businesses have recently started
supporting such customer initiatives through sponsorships.
For example, Home Depot runs weekly in-store and online
home improvement clinics and workshops to support customers with home improvement projects.
In several situations, however, these four categories
may interrelate and overlap, especially as time passes. For
example, when Coca-Cola initiates a Facebook page for its
fans, fans quickly make use of the opportunity and generate a large amount of comments and content, thus moving
quickly from provider initiated to consumer initiated (or
engaged). Moreover, since user-generated content makes up
the bulk of the CE initiative in this situation, and Coca-Cola
remains in the background, the impression may be that it
is a consumer initiative, although the company originated
the page. The two-way interaction between providers and
customers is, of course, at the heart of CE. Further, in
situations of high enthusiasm, there may be little actionresponse time lag.
In addition to the proposed two-dimensional classification, a number of additional ways to classify the foci
of customers’ engagement emerged during our research
investigation. The engaging offerings and activities might
come from profit-making businesses (e.g., Sephora) or notfor-profit organizations (e.g., public libraries). Engagement
might be in the presence or absence of other customers (e.g.,
interacting with other pregnant moms at baby birth seminars or creating playlists on the iPod), or online versus the
real world (e.g., Apple lovers blogs versus Sephora beauty
workshops). Customers might be engaged either at the organization’s premises (e.g., customized retail experiences) or
in other than the organization’s premises (e.g., self-esteem
workshops by Dove in a customer’s home). Organizations
might engage customers directly or through third parties,
as is common online. These contexts of engagement are
only indicative of the scope of engagement and certainly
do not exhaust the possibilities. A listing of these contexts
suggests a consumption environment where the customer
has transcended from the state of being a passive audience
and welcomes opportunities for connecting with objects,
events, people, and institutions.
Before moving into how CE relates to other constructs,
based on our literature review and exploratory work, we
first define and delimit the nature of CE. CE is the intensity
of an individual’s participation in and connection with
an organization’s offerings or organizational activities,
which either the customer or the organization initiates.
The individuals may be current or potential customers. CE
may be manifested cognitively, affectively, behaviorally, or
socially. The cognitive and affective elements of CE incorporate the experiences and feelings of customers, and the
behavioral and social elements capture the participation by
current and potential customers, both within and outside
of the exchange situations. CE involves the connection that
individuals form with organizations, based on their experiences with the offerings and activities of the organization.
Potential or current customers build experience-based relationships through intense participation with the brand by
way of the unique experiences they have with the offerings
and activities of the organization.
134 Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
Next, we discuss the relationship of CE with other important marketing constructs, differentiate it from other
constructs, and present some propositions. Although the
propositions are grounded in theory and literature, some
are unavoidably speculative. Furthermore, the variables
noted certainly do not exhaust all possibilities. We focus
on this set because (1) marketing practitioners and academics have consistently deemed them important, and (2) we
believe that CE is either affected by them or affects them
in important ways. Specifically, we focus on customer
participation and involvement as antecedents to CE, and
value, trust, affective commitment, word of mouth, loyalty,
and brand community involvement as consequences. The
theoretical model appears in Figure 1.
Our research emphasizes the centrality of participation
from involved parties in engaging the customer. While participation is integral to CE, it is also distinct from CE and
precedes it. Customer participation, defined as the degree to
which the customer is involved in producing or delivering
the service (Dabholkar 1990), engages the customer in an
interactive situation that is of common interest to the firm
as well as the customer. This interaction can produce higher
levels of enthusiasm and subsequently greater engagement
with the entity (Bagozzi and Dholakia 2006). For instance,
building teddy bears at a Build-A-Bear Workshop or through
their online site (where there were 7.8 million registered avatars in 2009; Ashby 2009) positively influences a customer’s
interaction and subsequent engagement with the resulting
product as well as the company. Therefore, we propose
that customer participation can positively influence CE.
MSI argues, “the brand engages prospects and customers
by identifying itself with their common interests” (2006,
p. 4), providing support for this idea. Thus, we propose
the following:
Proposition 1: An individual’s level of participation will
be positively associated with the intensity of his or her
focus of engagement.
The construct of involvement is the “perceived relevance
of the object based on inherent needs, values, and interests”
(Zaichkowsky 1985, p. 342). Involvement is a cognitive, affective, or motivational construct indicating state of mind
(Smith and Godbey 1991) or perceived personal relevance,
but it is not viewed as a behavior (Celsi and Olson 1988;
Richins and Bloch 1986; Zaichkowsky 1985). Thus, its
heightened level of interest and caring suggests that it is an
antecedent to engagement. Involvement produces greater
external search (Beatty and Smith 1987), greater depth of
processing (Burnkrant and Sawyer 1983), more elaboration
(Petty and Cacioppo 1986), and increases in product trials
(Krugman 1965; Robertson 1976). Sephora and Clinique
organize free beauty workshops aimed at providing consultation to anyone walking in. By providing opportunities
for risk-free interaction, these companies enhance their
relevance in the consumers’ minds, which is likely to lead
to more engaged future customers. Such examples lead us
to the following proposition:
Proposition 2: An individual’s level of involvement will
be positively associated with the intensity of his or her
focus of engagement.
As the theory of consumption values (Sheth, Newman,
and Gross 1991) and the consumer values perspective
(Holbrook 2006) suggest, consumers’ motivations toward
engagement depends on the value they expect to receive
from the experience. Values may be intrinsic or extrinsic.
When the consumer appreciates an engagement initiative
for its own sake “as a self-justifying end in itself” (Holbrook
2006, p. 715), he or she derives intrinsic value from it. But, if
an initiative enables the individual to perform some activity
better, he or she derives extrinsic value. Due to the active
process of coproducing and participating in the design and
production process (Garber, Hyatt, and Boya 2009), such
as when customizing the iPhone to one’s needs, greater
engagement will be associated with perceptions of greater
value received, producing the following:
Proposition 3: A highly engaged individual will derive
both intrinsic and extrinsic value from his or her focus
of engagement.
CE also creates opportunities for interaction between
marketers, consumers, and society, creating a macrolevel
feedback loop (Garber, Hyatt, and Boya 2009). Reciprocal action theory suggests that one party will reciprocate actions
taken by another party in a relationship because each party
anticipates the possible guilt if the norm of reciprocity is
violated (Li and Dant 1997). Thus, individuals will return
good for good, in proportion to what they receive (Bagozzi
1995). The labor undertaken in association with a brand, be
it the assembly of Ikea furniture, writing product reviews
online, or attending a do-it-yourself workshop at Lowe’s,
makes the consumer feel invested in a brand. Thus, based
on our qualitative findings and the norm of reciprocity, as
the customer perceives that he or she receives greater value
from an offering or activity, the customer in turn becomes
more involved and participates more with the offering or
activity, producing a feedback loop. This discussion leads
to the following proposition:
Spring 2012 135
Figure 1
Theoretical Model of Customer Engagement
Proposition 4: Increased value perceptions by the individual will be positively associated with his or her
(a) participation and (b) involvement with the focus of
According to Morgan and Hunt, trust exists “when one
party has confidence in an exchange partner’s reliability
and integrity” (1994, p. 23). In the evolutionary model
of relational exchange, trust is important because it acts
as a relational governance mechanism assuring partner
reciprocity and nonopportunistic behavior (Ganesan
1994; Morgan and Hunt 1994). Research also indicates
that positive interactions in extra-exchange relationship
interactions contribute to trust in the exchange relationship (Ganesan 1994; Lambe, Spekman, and Hunt 2000;
Parkhe 1993). Dove successfully engages customers (or
potential customers) by inviting them to participate in its
campaign for real beauty, just as American Express builds
customer trust through its Members Project. Dove’s campaign aims to help in building the self-esteem of teenage
girls. Similarly, American Express, through its Members
Project, donates millions of dollars to projects voted on
by potential or current customers. When firms engage
customers, there is an opportunity for interactions that,
if satisf ying, can lead to trust. Thus, higher engagement
should produce more trust in the relationships because
individuals will feel that the company cares about them
and has their best interests at heart, which leads to our
next proposition:
Proposition 5: CE will be positively associated with an
individual’s trust in the organization he or she associates
with his or her focus of engagement.
Affective commitment is “the psychological attachment
of an exchange partner to the other and is based on feelings of identification, loyalty, and affiliation” (Verhoef,
Franses, and Hoekstra 2002, p. 204). Bansal, Irving, and
Taylor suggest that affective commitment is a “desire-based
attachment” (2004, p. 236). Affective commitment reflects
a psychological bond, such as that of Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners, with the company, which motivates the
customer to remain in a relationship with an organization
because he or she genuinely wants to be there. Higher levels
of benefits that result from engagement with an organization’s offerings or activities will tend to produce greater
affective commitment toward the firm (Bendapudi and
Berry 1997). Therefore, we propose the following:
Proposition 6: CE will be positively associated with an
individual’s affective commitment toward the organization he or she associates with his or her focus of
136 Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
Organizations view word of mouth as a promotional
tool (Bone 1995; Feick, Price, and Higie 1986). Favorable
word of mouth may include “relating pleasant, vivid, or
novel experiences; recommendations to others; and even
conspicuous display” (Anderson 1998, p. 6). Brown et al.
(2005) and Matos and Rossi (2008) argue that satisfied and
committed customers are highly effective facilitators of
positive word of mouth. Matos and Rossi (2008) also show
that highly committed customers are more likely to provide
positive word of mouth and act as an advocate of the brand,
such as Amazon.com’s Kindle owners’ or Apple’s iPad or
iPhone owners’ strong advocacy for their brand. Thus, when
customers are highly engaged with a brand, they are more
likely to pass along positive word of mouth and act as an
advocate of the brand:
Proposition 7: CE will be positively associated with an
individual’s word-of-mouth activity in regard to the
organization he or she associates with his or her focus
of engagement.
Brand loyalty is “the biased behavioral response expressed over time by some decision making unit, with
respect to one or more alternative brands out of set of
such brands, as a function of evaluative psychological
processes” (Jacoby and Chestnut 1978, pp. 80–81). This
conceptualization of brand loyalty focuses on the psychological as well as the behavioral components of loyalty.
CE is distinct from brand loyalty in that it does not make
a comparative evaluation of brands, nor does it involve
behavioral decision making with respect to a transaction
or repurchase. The cognitive, affective, behavioral, and
social components of CE are with respect to an experience
and not an exchange. Thus, although CE is distinct from
brand loyalty, the engaged individual builds a strong connection with the company or brand he or she associates
with the engagement. This connection strengthens the
psychological processes and increases the likelihood of
a positive behavioral response toward the brand or organization (Jacoby and Chestnut 1978). CE strengthens the
classic hierarchy-of-effects notion of loyalty proposed by
Oliver (1999). Oliver proposed that consumers first process information to form beliefs, next use those beliefs to
form attitudes, and then make behavioral decisions based
on relative attitude strength. An engaged consumer is
likely to transition faster on the belief-attitude-behavior
continuum. Moreover, an engaged individual may develop
more favorable attitudes toward a product, company, or
brand he or she associates with the engagement, and consequently, may feel more loyalty to the entity. We therefore
suggest that CE is as an antecedent to loyalty and offer the
following proposition:
Proposition 8: CE will be positively associated with
an individual’s loyalty to the brand, organization, or
offering he or she associates with his or her focus of
Muniz and O’Guinn (2001) note three core components
of a community: (1) consciousness of kind, the intrinsic
connection members feel toward one another and the
collective sense of difference from those not in the community; (2) presence of shared rituals and traditions; and
(3) a sense of moral responsibility to the community as
a whole. Through the notion of shared understanding,
shared concerns, and shared beliefs, “members feel part
of a large unmet, but easily imagined community” (Muniz
and O’Guinn 2001, p. 419).
McAlexander, Schouten, and Koenig (2002) suggest that
the primary basis for the identification of brand communities is either brands or consumption activities. They see
brand communities as customer-centric. In their model, the
brand and the product are granted “community member
status” (McAlexander, Schouten, and Koenig 2002, p. 39),
equivalent to the customer and the marketer. In brand
communities “product adoption is necessary to become
fully situated in the experience” (McAlexander, Schouten,
and Koenig 2002, p. 41). However, in our view, ownership
or purchase of a product or brand is not a prerequisite of
engagement or even of community involvement. Exposure
may come through seeing information on the company or
brand, through various social media or through friends or
family, using the brand in some form, perhaps borrowing
it from someone, using it at work, leasing it, or in some
way becoming aware of the brand and its imagery. Consider
that a large percentage of Harley-Davidson “fans” are not
owners of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle but simply identify with the free spirit imagery associated with the brand.
Positive experiences that connect an individual to a brand
and to others who are engaged with a brand will increase
the likelihood of subsequent membership or involvement
in a brand community. Therefore,
Proposition 9: CE will be positively associated with greater
brand community involvement with the brand that is
the focus of his or her engagement.
Based on our fieldwork and the analysis of the interviews,
we suggest that groups of engaged customers strengthen
brand communities that can further influence the design
process in the firms. Such involvement creates a feedback
Spring 2012 137
loop between brand communities and customer participation. When Harley-Davidson discovered that its fans were
increasingly customizing their motorcycles after purchase,
the company involved its customers in developing various
custom accessories, and these customizations are still widely
offered and used today.
This research provides an initial model of CE, articulating important antecedents and consequences and clearly
differenatiating it from many of these concepts, which are
sometimes confused with CE itself.
Proposition 10: Increased brand community involvement
by the individual will be positively associated with his
or her (a) participation and (b) involvement with the
focus of engagement.
Managers have been interested in CE for about a decade now.
A large number of companies are providing platforms for
customers to come together, but are not sure where or how
to target their efforts. This paper suggests that researchers
need to align their perception of the scope of engagement
not only with existing customers but also with noncustomers and potential customers. It is critical for practitioners to
realize that customers engage with a wide range of goods,
services, and activities. All these foci of engagement are
not necessarily high involvement; even low-involvement
foci can be highly engaging to individuals. Furthermore,
individuals, as well as organizations, can initiate these offerings and activities. Thus, there is a great opportunity
for organizations to engage existing or potential customers
by supporting customer-initiated engagement. Evidence of
this is in the organizations’ support of customer-generated
material on the Internet and sponsorships of customerinitiated events. However, participation from firms needs
to go beyond mere sponsorships, and create easy opportunities for interactions with the customers. Organizations
that merely finance an event and place a banner displaying
the sponsorship will engage fewer individuals than those
who are themselves present and participating in the event,
co-creating the experience with those present.
For example, JetBlue gets it. The company, employing
17 individuals in their social media department, has a
Twitter feed, which has collected 1.6 million followers.
Moreover, they have 150,000 more individuals signed up
for their cheap deals feed and more than 440,000 friends
on Facebook (Daley 2011). JetBlue uses these mechanisms
to communicate and respond to customer issues more so
than to advertise. For example, in 2010, a disgruntled flight
attendant exited a parked JetBlue flight via the emergency
slide causing a public relations situation for the company.
To relieve the situation, the company created a funny blog.
The first customer comment on the blog read, “I love you
JetBlue.” That customer is engaged.
Finally, smart firms recognize that customers expect
instantaneous responses to their inquiries in today’s instantaneous world, not e‑mails that say, “we are too busy
to respond to your e‑mail,” a similar response to one given
by a major book retailer recently when its e‑business was
This research attempts to provide a comprehensive understanding of CE. We make several important contributions
by combining the existing literature on engagement with
a set of executives’ views of engagement, as well as a group
of customers’ perceptions of what engages them. We focus
on CE from the customers’ perspective to give organizations a better understanding of what engages customers. For
example, our matrix provides an initial classification of the
foci of engagement in marketing: provider versus customer
initiated and offer versus activity oriented. Our analysis
of the foci of engagement further suggests that customers
engage not only with high-involvement offerings but also
low-involvement offerings, as well as activities that either
providers or customers initiate.
Engagement strategies by organizations are an extension of developing relationships with customers (both
current and potential). The initial conceptualization of
RM and the recent work, ideas, and writings of Prahalad
and Ramaswamy (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) and Vargo and
Lusch (2004, 2008) imply that the domain of RM should
encompass a focus beyond purchase. Our conceptualization of CE contributes to the area by reemphasizing the
importance of broadly understanding individuals’ interactions and connections with the brand or product and with
each other relative to the brand, regardless of whether they
are purchasing or even considering purchasing the brand.
The cognitive and emotional element of CE incorporates
experiences and feelings of individuals, irrespective of the
exchange; and the behavioral and social elements capture
the participation by individuals with the brand or product
both within and outside of the exchange situations. This
is important because in the evolving marketing paradigm,
relationships are not just between buyers and sellers, but
between any combination of (and among) prospects, potentials, society, buyers, and sellers.
138 Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
taking off. Shortly thereafter, the company was put up for
sale but had no takers (Erman 2011).
Our research is, of course, not free of limitations, which
introduce future research options. In this study, we use
convenience and snowball samples to find executives and
individuals willing to talk to us. Since our research is aimed
at the development of an initial conceptualization of engagement and its related constructs, rather than establishing
the strength or extent of this research area, convenience
sampling is reasonable at this point (Ferber 1977). However,
future research should explore the degree to which these
results and propositions are reasonable and generalizable
with a larger probability sample.
In addition, marketers need to consider how to assess
the value of “engaging” noncustomers or future customers.
For example, how successful are the efforts of Microsoft
or Apple at providing computers to schools? Do programs
such as these generate engagement, positive attitudes, and
potential brand purchases later in life? What is the return on
investment on these programs? Can these programs be seen
as manipulative and thus backfire? If so, how? How can researchers adequately measure these goodwill efforts? Should
individuals be contacted at some interval after the engagement to ascertain attitudes or change in attitudes? When do
potential customers see the engagement as high-handed or
too blatant? How much should companies push the products
and accessories on these would-be customers for trial usage?
When do customers see the programs, such as the Clinique
clinics, as simply ways to make them feel obligated to make
a purchase? What are the negative connotations involved
and how can marketers avoid these connotations?
In order to enable practitioners to make full use of the
construct and academics to continue exploring the construct, future research should develop a CE scale and test
its applicability across contexts.
Marketing strategies focused on engaging the individual,
as well as the surveys used to measure the effectiveness of
these strategies, tend to focus on engagement from the perspective of organizations, not customers. Future research
should focus on understanding the elements of CE to help
practitioners build customer-focused engagement strategies
from a customer perspective. Research should ascertain
which dimensions are most effective with which customer
bases. In addition, how can firms use customer-initiated
programs (such as customer blogs) effectively and profit-
ably? As firms get more savvy with social media options,
the range of ways to interact with the customer (e.g., with
Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Facebook) and for customers to interact with one another relative to the brand are
enormous and multilevel, but the challenges of doing that
right are almost enormous.
Anderson, Eugene W. (1998), “Customer Satisfaction and Word of
Mouth,” Journal of Service Research, 1 (1), 5–17.
Appelbaum, Alec (2001), “The Constant Customer,” Gallup Management Journal, June 17 (available at http://gmj.gallup.com/
Ashby, Alicia (2009), “10% of Build-A-Bear Store Customers
Influenced by Virtual World,” Engage Digital, February 19
(available at www.engagedigital.com/blog/2009/02/19/10-ofbuildabear-store-customers-influenced-by-virtual-world/).
Avery, Derek R., Patrick F. McKay, and David C. Wilson (2007),
“Engaging the Aging Workforce: The Relationship Between
Perceived Age Similarity, Satisfaction with Coworkers, and
Employee Engagement,” Journal of Applied Psychology, 92
(6), 1542–1556.
Bagozzi, Richard P. (1995), “Reflections on Relationship Marketing
in Consumer Markets,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing
Science, 23 (4), 272–277.
———, and Utpal M. Dholakia (2006), “Antecedents and Purchase
Consequences of Customer Participation in Small Group
Brand Communities,” International Journal of Research in
Marketing, 23 (1), 45–61.
Bakker, Arnold B., Jari J. Hakanen, Evangelia Demerouti, and
Despoina Xanthopoulou (2007), “Job Resources Boost Work
Engagement, Particularly When Job Demands Are High,”
Journal of Educational Psychology, 99 (2), 274–284.
Band, William, and John Guaspari (2003), “Creating the CustomerEngaged Organization,” Marketing Management Journal, 12
(4), 34–39.
Bansal, Harvir S., P. Gregory Irving, and Shirley F. Taylor (2004),
“A Three-Component Model of Customer Commitment to
Service Providers,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 32 (3), 234–250.
Beatty, Sharon E., and Scott M. Smith (1987), “External Search
Effort: An Investigation Across Several Product Categories,”
Journal of Consumer Research, 14 (1), 83–95.
Bendapudi, Neeli, and Leonard L. Berry (1997), “Customers’
Motivations for Maintaining Relationships with Service
Providers,” Journal of Retailing, 73 (1), 15–37.
Berry, Leonard L. (1983), “Relationship Marketing,” in Emerging
Perspectives on Services Marketing, Leonard L. Berry, G. Lynn
Shostack, and Gregory Upah, eds., Chicago: American Marketing Association, 25–28.
———, and A. Parasuraman (1991), Marketing Services, New York:
Free Press.
Bone, Paula F. (1995), “Word-of-Mouth Effects on Short-Term and
Long-Term Product Judgments,” Journal of Business Research,
32 (3), 213–223.
Bowden, Jana Lay-Hwa (2009), “The Process of Customer Engagement: A Conceptual Framework,” Journal of Marketing Theory
and Practice, 17 (1), 63–74.
Spring 2012 139
Brown, Tom J., Thomas E. Barry, Peter A. Dacin, and Richard F.
Gunst (2005), “Spreading the Word: Investigating Antecedents of Consumers’ Positive Word-of-Mouth Intentions and
Behaviors in a Retailing Context,” Journal of the Academy of
Marketing Science, 33 (2), 123–138.
Burnkrant, Robert E., and Alan G. Sawyer (1983), “Effects of Involvement and Message Content on Information-Processing Intensity,” in Information Processing Research in Advertising, Richard
J. Harris, ed., Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 43–64.
Campanelli, Melissa (2007), “Engagement is the Next Phase in
Marketing Communications: Experian Summit,” January
18 (available at www.dmnews.com/Engagemetn-is-nextphase-in-marketing-communications-Experian-summit/
Catteeuw, Frank, Eileen Flynn, and James Vonderhorst (2007),
“Employee Engagement: Boosting Productivity in Turbulent
Times,” Organizational Development Journal, 25 (Summer),
Celsi, Richard L., and Jerry C. Olson (1988), “The Role of Involvement in Attention and Comprehension Process,” Journal of
Consumer Research, 15 (3), 210–224.
Corbin, Juliet, and Anselm Strauss (2007), Qualitative Research, 3d
ed., Los Angeles: Sage.
Dabholkar, Pratibha A. (1990), “How to Improve Perceived Service
Quality by Improving Customer Participation,” in Development in Marketing Science, B.J. Dunlap, ed., Cullowhee, NC:
Academy of Marketing Science, 483–487.
Daley, Jason (2011), “How to Make Marketing Brilliance,” Entrepreneur, February, 48–53.
Economist Intelligence Unit (2007), ‘‘Beyond Loyalty: Meeting the Challenge of Customer Engagement, Part I,’’
Economist (available at http://graphics.eiu.com/ebf/PDFs/
Erat, Pablo, Kevin C. Desouza, Anja Schäfer-Jugel, and Monika
Kurzawa (2006), “Business Customer Communities and
Knowledge Sharing: Exploratory Study of Critical Issues,”
European Journal of Information Systems, 15 (5), 511–524.
Erman, Boyd (2011), “Morning Meeting: No Buyers for Barnes &
Noble,” The Globe and Mail, March 23 (available at www
Feick, Lawrence F., Linda L. Price, and Robin A Higie (1986), “People
Who Use People: The Other Side of Opinion Leadership,” in
Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 13, Richard J. Lutz, ed.,
Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 301–305.
Ferber, Robert C. (1977), “Research by Convenience,” Journal of
Consumer Research, 1 (4), 57–58.
Fleming, John H., Curt Coffman, and James K. Harter (2005),
“Manage Your Human Sigma,” Harvard Business Review, 83,
7 (July–August), 107–114.
Fornell, Claes (1992), “A National Customer Satisfaction Barometer:
The Swedish Experience,” Journal of Marketing, 56 (1), 6–21.
———, and Birger Wernerfelt (1987), “Defensive Marketing Strategy
by Customer Complaint Management: A Theoretical Analysis,” Journal of Marketing Research, 24 (November), 337–346.
———, and ——— (1988), “A Model for Customer Complaint Management: A Theoretical Analysis,” Marketing Science, 7 (3),
Fredericks, Jennifer A., Phyllis C. Blumenfeld, and Alison H. Paris
(2004), “School Engagement: Potential of the Concept, State
of the Evidence,” Review of Educational Research, 74 (1),
Gallup Consulting (2001), “Customer Engagement: What’s Your
Engagement Ratio?” Washington, DC (available at www
Ganesan, Shankar (1994), “Determinants of Long-Term Orientation in Buyer–Seller Relationships,” Journal of Marketing, 58
(2), 1–19.
Garber, Lawrence L., Jr., Eva M. Hyatt, and Ünal Ö. Boya (2009),
“The Collaborative Roles of the Designer, the Marketer, and
the Consumer in Determining What Is Good Design,” Advertising & Society Review, 10 (1) (available at from http://muse
Ghuneim, Mark (2008), “Terms of Engagement: Measuring the
Active Consumer,” Wiredset, March 26 (available at http://
Gravenkemper, Steve (2007), “Building Community in Organizations: Principles of Engagement,” Consulting Psychology
Journal: Practice and Research, 59 (3), 203–208.
Gronroos, Christian (1990), Service Management and Marketing:
Managing the Moments of Truth in Service Competition, Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.
Guthrie, John T., and Kathleen E. Cox (2001), “Classroom Conditions for Motivation and Engagement in Reading,” Educational Psychology Review, 13 (3), 283–302.
Hallberg, Ulrika E., and Wilmar B. Schaufeli (2006), “‘Same Same’
but Different? Can Work Engagement Be Discriminated
from Job Involvement and Organizational Commitment?”
European Psychologist, 11 (2), 119–127.
Harris, Jodi (2006), “Consumer Engagement: What Does It Mean?”
iMedia Connection, May 23 (available at www.imediacon
Haven, Brian (2007), “Marketing’s New Key Metric: Engagement,”
Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA, August 8 (available at
Heath, Robert (2007), “How Do We Predict Advertising Attention in
Engagement?” Working Paper Series no. 2007.09, University
of Bath School of Management (available at http://opus.bath
Higgins, Tory E. (2006), “Value from Hedonic Experience and
Engagement,” Psychological Review, 113 (3), 439–460.
Holbrook, Morris B. (2006), “Consumption Experience, Customer
Value, and Subjective Personal Introspection: An Illustrative
Photographic Essay,” Journal of Business Research, 59 (6),
Jacoby, Jacob, and Robert W. Chestnut (1978), Brand Loyalty: Measurement and Management, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Joshi, Ashwin, and Sanjay Sharma (2004), “Customer Knowledge
Development: Antecedents and Impact on New Product Development,” Journal of Marketing, 68 (4), 47–59.
Kahn, William A. (1990), “Psychological Conditions of Personal
Engagement and Disengagement at Work,” Academy of Management Journal, 33 (December), 692–724.
Krugman, Herbert E. (1965), “The Measurement of Advertising
Involvement,” Public Opinion Quarterly, 30 (4), 583–596.
Kumar, V., Lerzan Aksoy, Bas Donkers, Rajkumar Venkatesan,
Thorsten Wiesel, and Sebastian Tillmanns (2010), ‘‘Undervalued or Overvalued Customers: Capturing Total Customer
140 Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
Engagement Value,” Journal of Ser vice Research, 13 (3),
Lambe, C. Jay, Robert E. Spekman, and Shelby D. Hunt (2000),
“Interimistic Relational Exchange: Conceptualization and
Propositional Development,” Academy of Marketing Science
Journal, 28 (2), 212–225.
Li, Zhan G., and Rajiv P. Dant (1997), “An Exploratory Study of
Exclusive Dealing in Channel Relationships,” Journal of the
Academy of Marketing Science, 25 (3), 201–213.
Lutz, Susan L., John T. Guthrie, and Marcia H. Davis (2006),
“Scaffolding for Engagement in Elementary School Reading Instruction,” Journal of Educational Research, 100 (1),
Marketing Science Institute (2006), 2006–2008 Research Priorities:
A Guide to MSI Research Programs and Procedures, Cambridge,
——— (2010), 2010–2012 Research Priorities, Cambridge, MA.
Maslach, Christina, Wilmar Schaufeli, and Michael P. Leiter (2001),
“Job Burnout,” Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397–422.
Matos, Celso Augusto de, and Vargas Rossi (2008), “Word-ofMouth Communications in Marketing: A Meta-Analytic
Review of the Antecedents and Moderators,” Journal of the
Academy of Marketing Science, 36 (4), 578–596.
May, Douglas R., Richard L. Gilson, and Lynn M. Harter (2004),
“The Psychological Conditions of Meaningfulness, Safety
and Availability and the Engagement of the Human Spirit at
Work,” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology,
77 (March), 11–37.
McAlexander, James H., John W. Schouten, and Harold F. Koenig
(2002), “Building Brand Communities,” Journal of Marketing,
66 (January), 38–54.
McEwen, William J. (2004), “Why Satisfaction Isn’t Satisfying,”
Gallup Management Journal, November 11 (available at
Morgan, Robert M., and Shelby Hunt (1994), “The CommitmentTrust Theory of Relationship Marketing,” Journal of Marketing, 58 (July), 20–38.
Muniz, Albert M., Jr., and Thomas C. O’Guinn (2001), “Brand Community,” Journal of Consumer Research, 27 (4), 412–432.
Nambisan, Satish (2002), “Designing Virtual Customer Environments for New Product Development: Toward a Theory,”
Academy of Management Review, 27 (3), 392–413.
Narayen, Shantanu (2007), “Shantanu Narayen Discusses
Customer Engagement” (available at www.adobe.com/
Noland, James, and Robert A. Phillips (2010), “Stakeholder Engagement, Discourse Ethics and Strategic Management,” International Journal of Management Reviews, 12 (1), 39–49.
Oliver, Richard L. (1999), “Whence Consumer Loyalty?” Journal
of Marketing, 63 (Special Issue), 33–44.
Parkhe, Arvind (1993), “Strategic Alliance Structuring: A Game
Theoretic and Transaction Cost Examination of Interfirm
Cooperation,” Academy of Management Journal, 36 (4),
Pasikoff, Robert (2006), Predicting Market Success: New Ways to
Measure Customer Loyalty and Engage Consumers with Your
Brand, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Petty, Richard E., and John T. Cacioppo (1986), Communication and
Persuasion: Central and Peripheral Routes to Attitude Change,
New York: Springer.
Prahalad, C.K. (2004), “The Cocreation of Value,” Journal of Marketing, 68 (January), 23.
———, and Venkatram Ramaswamy (2000), “Co-Opting Customer
Competence,” Harvard Business Review, 78 (1), 79–88.
———, and ——— (2002), “The Co-Creation Connection,” Strategy
and Business, 27 (2), 50–61.
———, and ——— (2003), “The New Frontier of Experience Innovation,” MIT Sloan Management Review, 44 (4), 12–18.
———, and ——— (2004), “Co-Creation Experiences: The Next Practice in Value Creation,” Journal of Interactive Marketing, 18
(3), 5–14.
Preston, Rob ( 2007), “Engage with Customers, Don’t Just Humor
Them,” InformationWeek, 1127 (February 26), 60.
Resnick, Evan (2001), “Defining Engagement,” Journal of International Affairs, 54 (2), 551–566.
Richins, Marsha L., and Peter H. Bloch (1986), “After the New
Wears Off: The Temporal Context of Product Involvement,”
Journal of Consumer Research, 13 (2), 280–285.
Rieger, Tom, and Craig Kamins (2006), “Are You Failing to Engage?” Gallup Management Journal, November 9 (available at
Roberts, Darryl R., and Thomas O. Davenport (2002), “Job Engagement: Why It’s Important and How to Improve It,” Employment Relations Today, 29 (3), 21–29.
Robertson, Thomas S. (1976), “Low-Commitment Consumer Behavior,” Journal of Advertising Research, 16 (April), 19–24.
Rothbard, Nancy P. (2001), “Enriching or Depleting? The Dynamics of Engagement in Work and Family Roles,” Administrative
Science Quarterly, 46 (4), 655–684.
Saks, Alan M. (2006), “Antecedents and Consequences of Employee Engagement,” Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21
(7), 600–619.
Sawhney, Mohanbir, Gianmario Verona, and Emanuela Prandelli
(2005), “Collaborating to Create: The Internet as a Platform
for Customer Engagement in Product Innovation,” Journal
of Interactive Marketing, 19 (4), 5–17.
Schau, Hope Jensen, Albert M. Muñiz, Jr., and Eric J. Arnould
(2009), “How Brand Community Practices Create Value,”
Journal of Marketing, 73 (5), 30–51.
Schaufeli, Wilmar B., Isabel M. Martinez., Alexandra M. Pinto,
Marisa Salanova, and Arnold B. Bakker (2002), “Burnout and
Engagement in University Students: A Cross-National Study,”
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 33 (5), 464–481.
Sedley, Richard (2010), “4th Annual Online Customer Engagement
Report 2010” (available at http://issuu.com/richardsedley/
Sheth, Jagdish N., Bruce I. Newman, and Barbara L. Gross (1991),
“Why We Buy What We Buy: A Theory of Consumption
Values,” Journal of Business Research, 22 (2), 159–170.
Smith, Stephen L.J., and Geoffrey C. Godbey (1991), “Leisure,
Recreation and Tourism,” Annals of Tourism Research, 18
(3), 85–100.
Trent, Ashley (2008), “Get the Party Started,” Marketing News
(October 1), 22 (available at https://docs.google.com/viewer
van Doorn, Jenny, Katherine N. Lemon, Vikas Mittal, Stephan
Nass, Doreén Pick, Peter Pirner, and Peter C. Verhoef (2010),
“Customer Engagement Behavior: Theoretical Foundations
Spring 2012 141
and Research Directions,” Journal of Service Research, 13 (3),
Vargo, Stephen L., and Robert F. Lusch (2004), “Evolving to a
New Dominant Logic for Marketing,” Journal of Marketing,
69 (January), 1–17.
———, and ——— (2008), “Service-Dominant Logic: Continuing
the Evolution,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science,
36 (1), 1–10.
Verhoef, Peter C., Philip Hans Franses, and Janny C. Hoekstra
(2002), “The Effect of Relational Constructs on Customer
Referrals and Number of Services Purchased from a Multiservice Provider: Does Age of Relationship Matter?” Journal
of the Academy of Marketing Science, 30 (3), 202–216.
———, Werner J. Reinartz, and Manfred Krafft (2010), “Customer
Engagement as a New Perspective in Customer Management,”
Journal of Service Research, 13 (3), 247–252.
Wagner, Christian, and Ann Majchrzak (2007), “Enabling
Customer-Centricity Using Wiki the Wiki Way,” Journal of
Management Information Systems, 23 (3), 17–43.
Watkins, C. Edward, Jr., Robert M. Tipton, Michaelene Manus,
and Julie Hunton-Shoup (1991), “Role Relevance and Role
Engagement in Contemporary School Psychology,” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 22 (4), 328–332.
Whelan, Susan, and Markus Wohlfeil (2006), “Communicating
Brands Through Engagement with ‘Lived’ Experiences,”
Journal of Brand Management, 13 (4), 313–329.
Winsor, John (2004), Beyond the Brand: Why Engaging the Right
Customers Is Essential to Winning in Business, Dearborn, MI:
Dearborn Trade Publishing.
Zaichkowsky, Judith L. (1985), “Measuring the Involvement Construct,” Journal of Consumer Research, 12 (3), 341–352.
142 Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
Summary Review of Relevant Engagement Literature
Authors (Year) Study
Definition of Engagement
(Element Emphasized)
Main Contributions
Academic Literature—Marketing
Verhoef, Reinartz, and Krafft
van Doorn et al. (2010)
Proposes that CE is an important development in
customer management literature.
Conceptualizes CE behaviors and their antecedents
and consequences.
Kumar et al. (2010)
Goes beyond transactions to propose four
components of CE value: customer lifetime
value, customer referral value, customer
influencer value, and customer knowledge value.
Understanding of customer–brand relationships
based on purchase frequency.
Event marketing facilitates CE with the brand
through informal dialogues and personal
firsthand brand experiences.
Virtual CE is customer-centric, active, two-way, and
continuous, focuses on social and experiential
knowledge, and has direct as well as mediated
interactions with prospects and potential
Customer new product preferences evolve through
CE with specific new product ideas.
Firm–customer relationships are not bilateral;
engagement leads to co‑creation of experience;
dialogue, access and transparency to
information; and risk assessment are building
blocks for co‑creation of value.
Engagement is a measure of the strength of a
company’s relationships with customers.
Bowden (2009)
Whelan and Wohlfeil (2006)
Sawhney, Verona, and Prandelli
Joshi and Sharma (2004)
Prahalad (2004)
McEwen (2004)
Winsor (2004)
The most valuable feedback is gleaned from
consumers when they are actually engaged in
making purchasing decisions.
Behavioral manifestations with a brand or
firm focus, beyond purchase, resulting from
motivational drives. (Behavioral)
“Active interactions of a customer with a firm, with
prospects and with other customers, whether
they are transactional or non-transactional in
nature” (p. 297). (Behavioral)
(Social and behavioral)
The extent to which customers form an emotional
and rational bond with the brand. (Emotional,
Academic Literature—Psychology
Bakker et al. (2007)
Gravenkemper (2007)
Avery, McKay, and Wilson (2007)
Higgins (2006)
Hallberg and Schaufeli (2006)
Job resources boost work engagement, especially
in situations when job demands are high.
Six principles: communicate a compelling message;
build a guiding coalition; create principle-based
versus compliance-based guidelines for decisions
and behaviors; identify early engagement
indicators; generate continuous opportunities
for dialogue; and plan assimilation strategies for
new members and new leaders.
Satisfaction with coworkers and perceived age
similarity relates to engagement.
Proposes certain implications of the contribution of
engagement strength to value.
Work engagement, job involvement, and
organizational commitment are empirically
distinct constructs and reflect different aspects
of work attachment.
Meaningful employee expression in work roles.
(Cognitive, behavioral)
Spring 2012 143
Authors (Year) Study
Saks (2006)
Distinguishes between job and organization
May, Gilson, and Harter (2004)
Meaningfulness is strongly related to engagement.
Job enrichment and work role fit relate to
meaningfulness; rewarding relationships to
safety; and availability to resources available.
Dimensions of engagement: vigor (high levels of
energy and mental resilience), dedication (sense
of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride,
and challenge), and absorption (being fully
concentrated, happy, and deeply engrossed).
Engagement promises to yield new perspectives on
interventions to alleviate burnout.
Schaufeli et al. (2002)
Maslach, Schaufeli, and Leiter
Rothbard (2001)
Watkins et al. (1991)
Kahn (1990)
Definition of Engagement
(Element Emphasized)
Main Contributions
Components of role engagement-attention and
Relevance and engagement possess similarities in
Psychological conditions of personal engagement:
(1) How meaningful is it for me to bring myself
into this performance? (2) How safe is it to do
so? (3) How available am I to do so?
Consists of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral
components that are associated with individual
role performance.
(Emotional, cognitive)
Engagement is a positive, fulfilling, work-related
state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication,
and absorption. (Cognitive)
Work engagement is a persistent, positive, affectivemotivational state of fulfillment. (Cognitive,
Role engagement is the degree to which various role
behaviors are actually practiced or engaged in.
The simultaneous employment and expression of
a person’s “preferred self” in task behaviors that
promote connections to work and to others
personal presence (cognitive and emotional) and
active, full performances.
Academic Literature- Information Systems
Wagner and Majchrzak (2007)
Erat et al. (2006)
CE is enabled through community custodianship,
goal alignment, value-adding processes,
emergence of layers of participation,
management and monitoring effort, and
enabling technologies. Suggests customers
should take the role of custodians.
Discusses challenges in engaging customers online,
the different roles customers can take.
The intensity of customer participation with both
representatives of the organization and with
other customers in a collaborative knowledge
exchange process. (Behavioral)
“Engagement with customers calls for exchanging
information and knowledge with customers
and fostering exchanges between customers”
(p. 511). (Behavioral)
Academic Literature—Management
Noland and Phillips (2010)
Reports recent trends in the literature on
stakeholder engagement.
Ghuneim (2008)
Emphasizes the value of engagement and its
Catteeuw, Flynn, and
Vonderhorst (2007)
Implementation of employee engagement for
organizational development at Johnson &
Suggests performance is the result of an
interaction of employee engagement and CE;
emotions inform both sides’ judgments and
behavior more powerfully than rationality.
Fleming, Coffman, and Harter
A type of interaction that involves recognition and
respect of common humanity and the ways in
which the actions of each may affect the other.
A consumer-based measurement that regards
interaction with an aspect of a brand or media
property. (Behavioral)
The degree to which employees are satisfied
with their jobs, feel valued, and experience
collaboration and trust. (Emotional)
144 Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
Authors (Year) Study
Nambisan (2002)
Roberts and Davenport (2002)
Definition of Engagement
(Element Emphasized)
Main Contributions
Discusses four themes: interaction patterns,
knowledge creation, customer motivation, and
virtual community–new product development
team integration.
Increasing job engagement makes economic sense.
Job engagement is a person’s enthusiasm and
involvement in the job. (Emotional)
Practitioner Literature
Narayen (2007)
Haven (2007)
Health of a company relies on the extent to
which it creates meaningful and sustainable
Proposes a four-component engagement metric:
involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence.
Sedley (2010)
4th Annual Online Customer Engagement Report
Preston (2007)
CE is deeper than just humoring customers or
paying lip service to them.
Level of attention and engagement are
distinct, and the use of multimedia increases
Multimedia engagement study measured six
dimensions of engagement: inspirational,
trustworthy, life enhancing, social interaction, ad
attention/receptivity, and personal time out.
Identifies the key characteristics of barriers
companies face that prevent them from fully
engaging their customer and employees.
Introduces a loyalty-based customer-listening
system for better marketing results.
Heath (2007)
Campanelli (2007)
Rieger and Kamins (2006)
Pasikoff (2006)
Harris (2006)
Report of iMedia Agency Summit on Engagement.
Band and Guaspari (2003)
Customer-engaged organization not only delivers
superior results but also adapts and responds
nimbly in a competitive environment.
Gallup Consulting’s CE metric (CE11).
Appelbaum (2001)
PeopleMetrics (www.peoplemetrics.com)
Engaged customers (1) promote the company
or brand, (2) intend to return in the future,
(3) go out of their way to do business with the
company, and (4) feel passion, even love, for the
brand and experience.
Suggests CE is an online social phenomenon,
where customer behavior revolves around
product categories. Gives other definitions of
CE, and discusses marketing practices.
Creating meaningful and sustainable interactions.
The level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and
influence an individual has with a brand over
time. (Cognitive, affective, behavioral)
Repeated interactions that strengthen the
emotional, psychological, or physical investment a
customer has in a brand. (Behavioral, affective)
Level of engagement is the amount of “feeling”
going on when an advertisement is being
processed. (Emotional)
(Cognitive, affective, behavioral, social)
CE is an emotional connection between the
company and its customers. (Emotional)
Psychologically based tendencies and expectations
that determine marketplace behavior. (Cognitive,
A way of thinking about today’s marketing and
media from the perspective of today’s active
consumer. (Does not address dimensions)
Fully engaged customers are emotionally attached
and rationally loyal; they are your most valuable
customers. (Emotional, cognitive)
Engagement of customers with one another, with a
company or a brand. (Primarily behavioral)
Spring 2012 145
Authors (Year) Study
Main Contributions
Definition of Engagement
(Element Emphasized)
Other Disciplines
Lutz, Guthrie, and Davis (2006)
Fredericks, Blumenfeld, and Paris
Assessed student learning engagement using a
multidimensional coding scheme.
Describes behavioral, emotional, and cognitive
engagement and recommends studying
engagement as a multifaceted construct.
Resnick (2001)
Conceptualizes engagement in the context of
international relations.
Guthrie and Cox (2001)
Identifies important features of classroom context
that foster reading engagement.
School engagement has affective, cognitive,
behavioral, and social elements.
Positive affective reactions facilitating sense of
connection (emotional), active participation in
academic activities (behavioral), and mental
investment in learning. (Cognitive)
The attempt to influence the political behavior
of a target state through the comprehensive
establishment and enhancement of contacts with
that state across multiple issue areas.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.