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Ritualized retail events and brand-centric employee culture

Xi Liu (School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management , Beijing, China)
Bu Mi (School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management , Beijing, China)
Fei Li (School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management , Beijing, China)
Deqiang Zou (School of Management, Fudan University , Shanghai, China)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 10 June 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore how the ideal employee effects of internal marketing are created and sustained. It aims to reveal the role that outbound marketing activities play in the reproduction of a brand-centric employee culture.

Design/methodology/approach

From an organizational ritual perspective, this study conducts a qualitative study of a Chinese department store’s anniversary celebration, which is a multi-day annual sales event. Data were collected through in-depth interviews, supplemented with corporate documents and field observation.

Findings

This study reveals that the focal event remains a success because the well-managed coordination of its onstage and backstage activities serves to reproduce an employee culture of espousing and voluntarily enacting corporately mandated role norms, values and beliefs.

Practical implications

For the management of retail events with the aim of building organizational culture, this study points to the importance of emphasizing the symbolism of the sales promotion aspects of an event and paying as much attention to employees’ backstage experiences as to the public execution of a consumer event.

Originality/value

This study shows that external marketing could set the stage for internal marketing, with the ideal effects of internal marketing actually constructed and institutionalized during activities and procedures comprising outbound marketing. This suggests that a more nuanced view of the practice of internal marketing is warranted.

Keywords

Citation

Liu, X., Mi, B., Li, F. and Zou, D. (2019), "Ritualized retail events and brand-centric employee culture", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 250-269. https://doi.org/10.1108/QMR-11-2016-0104

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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