The Impact of New Media on Customer Relationships

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The Impact of New Media on Customer
Relationships

Journal of Service Research
13(3) 311-330
ª The Author(s) 2010
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DOI: 10.1177/1094670510375460
http://jsr.sagepub.com

Thorsten Hennig-Thurau1,2, Edward C. Malthouse3,
Christian Friege4, Sonja Gensler5, Lara Lobschat6,
Arvind Rangaswamy7, and Bernd Skiera8

Abstract
Recent years have witnessed the rise of new media channels such as Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Twitter, which enable customers to take a more active role as market players and reach (and be reached by) almost everyone anywhere and anytime. These new media threaten long established business models and corporate strategies, but also provide ample opportunities for growth through new adaptive strategies. This paper introduces a new ‘‘pinball’’ framework of new media’s impact on relationships with customers and identifies key new media phenomena which companies should take into account when managing their relationships with customers in the new media universe. For each phenomenon, we identify challenges for researchers and managers which relate to (a) the understanding of consumer behavior, (b) the use of new media to successfully manage customer interactions, and (c) the effective measurement of customers’ activities and outcomes. Keywords

new media, customer relationships, electronic word-of-mouth, online communities, recommendation systems, mobile technologies
The internet with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or MySpace, but also mobile phones have completely changed how we perceive
and understand our environment.
Michael Lynton, 2009, CEO & Chairman, Sony Pictures
Entertainment1

Introduction
The ways consumers communicate with each other have been
changing dramatically over the last decade, and the same is true for how consumers gather and exchange information about
products and how they obtain and consume them. The rise of
a plethora of new media has provided consumers with extensive options for actively providing information on services and products: ‘‘The digital innovations of the last decade made it effortless, indeed second nature, for audiences to talk back and talk to each other’’ (Deighton and Kornfeld 2009, p. 4). New media have also empowered them to promote and distribute

their own offers – consumers today serve as retailers on eBay, media producer-directors on YouTube, authors on Wikipedia,
and critical reviewers on Amazon and Tripadvisor; they do all of this and more on Facebook and MySpace. And they no longer require their computer to do so – through high-tech mobile phones, portable computers and portals such as Twitter, realtime information exchange has become an integral element 1

Lynton (2009).

of consumer behavior anywhere and anytime. User-generated
content has become a mass phenomenon, with Facebook,
MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Twitter all being listed
among the Top 15 websites, accounting for more than 11 percent of global internet traffic, as of April 2010 (Alexa 2010). This development threatens established business models.
Printed newspapers and magazines are facing a major crisis
(Edgecliffe-Johnson 2008), as consumers move from print to
digital media, and piracy and digital channels have severely hurt the music industry (Financial Times 2009). Media analysts have noticed a decline of TV advertising effectiveness (Maddox
2008), resulting from new digital options for viewing TV content (e.g., digital video recorders, online portals). Critical websites (e.g., untied.com for United Airlines) and brand spoofs

1

University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany
Cass Business School, City University, London, UK
3
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
4
LichtBlick AG, Hamburg, Germany
5
University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
6
University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
7
Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA
8
Goethe-University of Frankfurt,...
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