Relationship Marketing

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Relationship Marketing in Consumer Markets: Antecedents and Consequences Jagdish N. Sheth Atul Parvatiyar
Emory University

Understanding the motivations of consumers to engage in relationships with marketers is important for both practitioners and marketing scholars. To develop an effective theory of relationship marketing, it is necessary to understand what motivates consumers to reduce their available market choices and engage in a relational market behavior by patronizing the same marketer in subsequent choice situations. This article draws on established consumer behavior literature to suggest that consumers engage in relational market behavior due to personal influences, social influences, and institutional influences. Consumers reduce their available choice and engage in relational market behavior because they want to simplify their buying and consuming tasks, simplify information processing, reduce perceived risks, and maintain cognitive consistency and a state of psychological comfort. They also engage in relational market behavior because of family and social norms, peer group pressures, government mandates, religious tenets, employer influences, and marketer policies. The willingness and ability of both consumers and marketers to engage in relational marketing will lead to greater marketing productivity, unless either consumers or marketers abuse the mutual interdependence and cooperation.

INTRODUCTION

Several areas of marketing have recently been the focus of relationship marketing including interorganizational issues in the context of a buyer-seller partnership (Dwyer, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. Volume 23, No. 4, pages 255-271. Copyright 9 1995 by Academy of Marketing Science.

Schurr, and Oh 1987; Johanson, Hall6n, and SeyedMohamed 1991), network structures and arrangements (Anderson, H/~kansson, and Johanson 1994), channel relationships (Boyle, Dwyer, Robicheaux, and Simpson 1992; Ganesan 1994), sales management (Swan and Nolan 1985), services marketing (Berry 1983; Crosby and Stephens 1987; Crosby, Evans, and Cowles 1990), and business alliances (Bucklin and Sengupta 1993; Heide and John 1990; Sheth and Parvatiyar 1992). Researchers have also focused on developing a theory of successful and efficient management of relationships (cf. Heide and John 1992; Morgan and Hunt 1994). These and other studies have significantly contributed to our knowledge of relationship marketing. However, the subject of relationship marketing is still nascent and in its very early stages of development. Particularly lacking are studies on relationship marketing in the consumer markets, especially for consumer products as opposed to consumer service industries. Whatever limited literature that exists is written to advise practitioners on how to improve relationship marketing practice (Christopher, Payne, and Ballantyne 1992; Copulsky and Wolf 1990; Illingworth 1991). Moreover, much of the current literature considers relationship marketing, especially in consumer markets, to be a completely new phenomenon. Examples include database marketing, affinity marketing, and regional marketing practices focused on building ongoing relationships with consumers. Academic scholars (for example at the American Marketing Association [AMA] meetings) have challenged this contention by suggesting that direct buyer-seller relationship is actually an old-fashioned way of doing business. Indeed, in an earlier article, we tried to document that relationship marketing has strong historical antecedents from the preindustrial era, only its form and practice have changed (Sheth and Parvatiyar 1993). In this article, we extend that argument to suggest that the antecedents of

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FALL1995 the same store, use the same process of purchase and visit the same service provider, again and again. It is estimated that as often as 90 percent of the time, consumers go to the same...
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