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Advancing the understanding of the pre-purchase stage of the customer journey for service brands

Rachel Fuller (Department of Management and Marketing, La Trobe Business School, Melbourne, Australia)
Lara Stocchi (University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Thorsten Gruber (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Jenni Romaniuk (Ehrenberg Bass Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 1 December 2022

Issue publication date: 17 January 2023

2387

Abstract

Purpose

Service branding research predominantly focuses on the purchase and postpurchase stages of the customer journey. This study aims to expand the lens of enquiry to the prepurchase stage, showing the role service brand awareness and service brand retrieval play before customer experiences and relationships can be established.

Design/methodology/approach

The research presents and empirically examines a new framework that links service brand awareness and service brand retrieval to key “battlegrounds” in the prepurchase stage of the customer journey: entry into the Awareness Set, Consideration Set and Repertoire Set. The empirical work draws on data from both services and goods markets from two UK-based consumer surveys (N = 771 and N = 270, respectively).

Findings

The findings indicate that, prepurchase, service brands compete most intensively to establish and reinforce a broad array of memory associations, rather than a specific corporate or brand image.

Research limitations/implications

To improve the generalizability of the conclusions drawn, the findings of this study should be replicated in additional service categories and consumer samples.

Practical implications

The findings translate into novel, long-term strategies for the management of service brands at the prepurchase stage of the customer journey, especially opportunities for effective and creative marketing communications.

Originality/value

This study contributes to marketing research and practice by introducing the notion of service brand retrieval and highlighting its role, together with service brand awareness and prepurchase.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Citation

Fuller, R., Stocchi, L., Gruber, T. and Romaniuk, J. (2023), "Advancing the understanding of the pre-purchase stage of the customer journey for service brands", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 57 No. 2, pp. 360-386. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-10-2021-0792

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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