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Enhancing customer relationships with retail service brands: The role of customer engagement

Kevin Kam Fung So (SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)
Ceridwyn King (Fox School of Business, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Beverley Ann Sparks (Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Ying Wang (Department of Tourism, Sport Hotel Management, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 18 April 2016

Issue publication date: 18 April 2016




The concept of customer engagement (CE) has emerged as an important indicator of customer-brand relationship strength. However, limited research exists to provide insight into how CE enhances the effectiveness of building such a relationship in retail services. The purpose of this paper is to extend the current understanding of CE through examination of its role in the development of customer-brand relationship quality.


To test the hypotheses contained in the proposed conceptual model, the authors used a quantitative method that included a survey questionnaire to measure customers’ perceptions with respect to the constructs of interest. Specifically, two studies were conducted in Australia. Study 1 was intended to empirically test the theoretical relationships among the constructs, while Study 2 aimed to replicate the proposed model with a different sample to enhance external validity.


In two separate studies, the results of a structural model show that the emerging concept of CE plays a significant role in building customer-brand relationship quality and, subsequently, customer loyalty toward the retail brand.

Research limitations/implications

This study focusses on retail store brands only and used a cross-sectional design, which does not involve examination of cause-and-effect relationships.

Practical implications

From a practical point of view, the findings suggest that marketers should actively embrace strategies to foster CE to enhance brand relationship quality, and ultimately, forming a loyal customer-brand relationship.


The study makes an original contribution to the retail services literature by empirically demonstrating the relevance of CE in both customer relationship management as well as brand management.



So, K.K.F., King, C., Sparks, B.A. and Wang, Y. (2016), "Enhancing customer relationships with retail service brands: The role of customer engagement", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 170-193.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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