Customer intimacy

Jürgen Kai‐Uwe Brock (Department of Marketing, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Josephine Yu Zhou (International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef Bonn, Bad Reichenhall, Germany)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Publication date: 8 June 2012



The term customer intimacy has been used both in academia and business, albeit lacking clear definition and empirical validation. The authors in this paper aim to develop a measure of customer intimacy in business‐to‐business contexts and to assess its reliability and validity, as well as its relevance, within a nomological relationship marketing network.


A multi‐method (qualitative/exploratory and quantitative/confirmatory structural modelling), multi‐staged (test, re‐test) research approach is used and applied in the UK and Germany.


The results show that customer intimacy is a second order construct reflected by the three formative dimensions of mutual understanding, closeness, and value perception. The results also show that customer intimacy is a relevant relationship indicator, distinct from the central relationship indicators of trust and commitment. It impacts relationship commitment levels, customer induced word‐of‐mouth, repurchase intentions, information disclosure, customer availability, and leads to an advisor status with the customer. Moreover, customer intimacy mediates relationship marketing's central trust commitment link.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitations that should be addressed by future studies are: reliance on the key informant technique on one side of the supplier‐buyer dyad; cross‐sectional design.

Practical implications

This study shows that achieving and managing customer intimacy is a relevant managerial goal and task for firms and shows managers how it can be measured and managed.


This study, for the first time, presents a measure for customer intimacy and assesses its quality and impact empirically. The measure will be of significant value in making customer‐centric, relationship management approaches more accountable.



Kai‐Uwe Brock, J. and Yu Zhou, J. (2012), "Customer intimacy", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 370-383.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.