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Customer engagement marketing—defined as a firm’s deliberate effort to motivate, empower, and measure customer contributions to marketing functions—marks a shift in marketing research and business practice. After defining and differentiating engagement marketing, the authors present a typology of its two primary forms and offer tenets that link specific strategic elements to customer outcomes and thereby firm performance, theorizing that the effectiveness of engagement marketing arises from the establishment of psychological ownership and self-transformation. The authors provide evidence in support of the derived tenets through case illustrations, as well as a quasi-experimental field test of the central tenet of engagement marketing.
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Toward a theory of customer engagement marketing
Colleen M. Harmeling
&Jordan W. Moffett
&Mark J. Arnold
&Brad D. Carlson
Received: 8 August 2016 /Accepted: 15 November 2016 /Published online: 15 December 2016
#Academy of Marketing Science 2016
Abstract Customer engagement marketingdefined as a firms
deliberate effort to motivate, empower, and measure customer
contributions to marketing functionsmarks a shift in marketing
research and business practice. After defining and differentiating
engagement marketing, the authors present a typology of its two
primary forms and offer tenets that link specific strategic elements
to customer outcomes and thereby firm performance, theorizing
that the effectiveness of engagement marketing arises from the
establishment of psychological ownership and self-transforma-
tion. The authors provide evidence in support of the derived tenets
through case illustrations, as well as a quasi-experimental field
test of the central tenet of engagement marketing.
Keywords Customer engagement .Marketing strategy .
Task-based engagement .Experiential engagement .
Whether intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, guided or un-
guided by the firm, customers are now active contributors to a
wide variety of marketing functions (e.g., customer acquisition
and retention, product innovation, marketing communication,
merchandising) (Malthouse et al. 2013;Nambisan2002). They
are pseudo-marketers, often with greater influence, lower costs,
and more effective reach than their firm-based counterparts
(Kozinets et al. 2010). This transfer of control to the customer
can be a significant threat or potential opportunity for firms.
This has led to an explosion of interest in Bcustomer
engagement,^which, in the past decade, has gone from a
completely unused term (0 hits prior to 2007) to a topic that
raises more than 6 million Google search hits. Consequently,
firms are devoting substantial resources in an effort to steer
customer engagement strategically; often hiring full-time man-
agers (e.g., Director of Customer Engagement) (Verhoef et al.
2010). For example, Anheuser-Busch is expected to spend
more than $200 billion annually on engagement marketing
strategies, beginning in 2017 (Barris 2015). Yet confusion
about the meaning of customer engagement is nearly as ubiq-
uitous as its use, and research on customer engagement remains
scarce and fragmented. The question thus remains, BHow can
firms strategically guide customer engagement in ways that
benefit their performance?^Accordingly, the goal of this article
is to present an emerging theory of customer engagement mar-
keting and provide a foundation for the use of customer engage-
ment to achieve marketing objectives.
As a first step, we explicitly delineate customer engagement,
acustomeroutcome,asdistinctfromcustomer engagement
marketing (henceforward, engagement marketing), which re-
fers to a firmsstrategicefforts.Engagement marketing repre-
sents the firms deliberate effort to motivate, empower, and
measure a customersvoluntarycontributiontoitsmarketing
functions, beyond a core, economic transaction (i.e., customer
engagement). It actively enlists customers to serve as pseudo-
Anne Roggeveen served as Area Editor for this article.
*Colleen M. Harmeling
Jordan W. Moffett
Mark J. Arnold
Brad D. Carlson
Florida State University, 821 Academic Way,
Tallahassee, FL 32306-0111, USA
Louisiana State University, 2114D Business Education Complex,
Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
Saint Louis University, 3674 Lindell Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63108,
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335
DOI 10.1007/s11747-016-0509-2
marketers for the firm. Effective engagement marketing can
reduce acquisition costs, promote customer-centric product in-
novations, and enhance post-purchase service quality
(Malthouse et al. 2013; Nambisan 2002). It can provide a
means to monitor behaviors outside the core transaction, to
capture a more holistic view of the customer and more accurate
measures of customer value (Kumar 2013), as well as enhanc-
ing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and , u l timate l y, f irm perf o r-
mance (Ranjan and Read 2016;Rappetal.2013).
This research takes several steps to provide a foundation
for engagement marketing. We review marketing literature
and detail various explicit or implicit meanings of customer
engagement, to distill the essence of this foundational con-
struct as a customers voluntary contributions to a firmsmar-
keting functions. Implicit in this conceptualization of custom-
er engagement is the idea that customers have something of
value to add to the firm, beyond their financial patronage, so
we present a defense of four customer-owned resourcesnet-
work assets, persuasion capital, knowledge stores, and crea-
tivitythat underlie engagement marketing. Then, building
on the foundational understanding of customer engagement,
we define engagement marketing. Next, we present a concep-
tual model to position engagement marketing in a nomologi-
cal network and identify two paths through which engagement
marketing drives long-term customer engagement. We use this
model to derive tenets for employing engagement marketing
to achieve firm objectives, as well as advance research in the
domain. Empirical tests of each tenet are beyond the scope of
this article, but we provide some illustrative business cases
and a quasi-experimental field test of the proposed founda-
tions. Finally, we outline research directions that emerge from
this newly proposed theory of engagement marketing.
With these efforts, our research makes several key contri-
butions. First, we distill the essence of customer engagement
to provide a foundation for examining engagement marketing.
We identify its universal characteristics, differentiate it from
other marketing strategies, and offer a descriptive typology of
two types of engagement marketing (task-based and experien-
tial). All engagement marketing shifts control over some as-
pect of a firms marketing functions, from the firm to the
customer, and depends on the firms ability to identify and
leverage customer-owned resources (network assets, knowl-
edge stores, persuasion capital, creativity). Task-based en-
gagement initiatives go beyond the economic transaction
and use structured, and often incentivized, tasks to guide cus-
tomersvoluntary contributions to marketing functions (e.g.,
write a review, refer a customer, provide support to other cus-
tomers). Experiential engagement initiatives instead reflect the
firms attempts to drive pleasurable experiences with cus-
tomers outside the core transaction, such that these events
motivate voluntary, autonomous customer contributions.
Extant literature typically theorizes about each specialized
form of engagement marketing separately (e.g., word-of-
mouth marketing, crowdsourcing, brandfests); we integrate
these forms to provide a more parsimonious theoretical foun-
dation for understanding engagement marketing.
Second, we develop a conceptual model and identify two
tenets, with corresponding propositions, that capture the the-
oretical essence of how engagement marketing affects partic-
ipating customers. Engagement marketing has a twofold in-
fluence on long-term customer engagement (beyond partici-
pation in the initial initiative). First, engagement marketing
can enhance the experience of the core offering, a key driver
of customer engagement, by strengthening existing psycho-
logical connections to the core offering (e.g., task-based) and
by building new, diverse connections (e.g., experiential).
Second, both task-based and experiential engagement initia-
tives can drive long-term customer engagement by
transforming the customers perception of the self in relation
to the firm. Thus, engagement marketing can drive long-term
customer engagement through transformation of the experi-
ence of the core offering and customer self-transformation.
Third, we provide illustrative cases to support our pro-
posed tenets, along with a preliminary empirical test of our
conceptual model. Because the long-term success of an
engagement marketing initiative is predicated on its ability
to transform the customer from a passive receiver of the
firms marketing functions, a successful initiative should
facilitate this self-transformation. We test this foundational
prediction with a quasi-experimental field study in which
we investigate the effects of an engagement initiative on
customer engagement. It reveals that experiential engage-
ment initiatives facilitate the transformation of the partici-
pating customersperceptionofself,whichinturnin-
creases customer engagement.
Theoretical assessment of customer engagement
A frenzy of rapid growth and creative energy has marked
recent research on customer engagement (Bowden 2009;
Kumar 2013;VanDoornetal.2010; Vivek et al. 2012), gen-
erating a significant amount of knowledge but also consider-
able variation in the definitions, concepts, and arguments used
to examine the construct. This variation can become problem-
atic. Without definitional precision, operationalization and dif-
ferentiation from other marketing constructs is arduous or im-
possible. Replicating findings is difficult and contradictory
findings are inevitable making theory testing challenging
and hindering the development of the domain. Thus, these
foundational constructs must be Bnarrow enough to strip away
unintended connotations and surplus meaning but concep-
tually broad enough to capture the underlying essence of the
phenomenon^(Suddaby 2010,p.34748). Therefore, in
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335 313
approaching a theory of engagement marketing, we begin
with the recognition that, even despite some underlying sim-
ilarities, many diverse viewpoints exist and must be
A primary challenge related to diverse viewpoints on cus-
tomer engagement is that the term is often used interchange-
ably to refer to both firm strategies and customer responses,
construed as Bactivities initiated by the organization^
(Vivek et al. 2012,p.127)andasBcustomer behavioral man-
ifestations toward the brand or firm, beyond purchase^(Van
Doorn et al. 2010, p. 253). In response to this conundrum, we
begin by disentangling customer engagement, a desired cus-
tomer outcome,from engagement marketing, which is a firms
strategic efforts. With an inductive approach, we review influ-
ential theoretical statements and recent empirical work to dis-
till the unique essence of customer engagement: the desired
outcome of engagement marketing. Figure 1provides a visual
summary of relationships among the key constructs; Table 1
details the implicit and explicit meanings of customer engage-
ment in extant research.
What is customer engagement?
In an attempt to consolidate diverse viewpoints and build a
strong foundation for conceptualizing engagement marketing,
we first contemplate the merits of the unique perspectives on
customer engagement. It has been construed as either behav-
ioral or psychological (Hollebeek 2011;Jaakkolaand
Alexander 2014), though a general consensus indicates that
it is a customers behavioral response to a firm, going beyond
what is necessary for the core economic transaction (Van
Doorn et al. 2010). Specifically, it is Bactivities engaged in
by the consumer that are not directly related to search, alter-
native evaluation, and decision making involving brand
choice^(Vivek et al. 2012,p.128).Curiously,manyre-
searchers claiming a psychological perspective emphasize its
interactive nature asserting that Bcustomers choose to invest ...
resources in particular brand interactions,^thus, implying a
behavioral component (Hollebeek et al. 2016, p. 3; see also
Brodie et al. 2011). Defining it behaviorally rather than
psychologically may be preferable; it does not preclude the
relevance of psychological constructs (e.g., involvement, sat-
isfaction,brand love, cognitive and affective commitment) but
rather allows these constructs to fluctuate independently, with
unique antecedents and consequences, and relate to customer
engagement as either a key antecedent or outcome (Pansari
and Kumar 2016). Defining customer engagement as behav-
iors outside the core transaction also has the benefit of clearly
distinguishing the concept from behavioral loyalty (i.e., repeat
purchases) and other transaction-focused behaviors frequently
studied in marketing (Dick and Basu 1994). Yet, construing it
as any activity beyond purchase subsumes a wide variety of
customer behaviors (e.g., product returns, product usage,
product disposal, brand learning), potentially at the expense
of retaining surplus meaning that could dilute the effective-
ness of the term. Thus, we argue that a behavioral conceptu-
alization of customer engagement better captures its implicit
and explicit meaning and also that narrowing and clarifying
this definition can help establish more effective Bbuilding
blocks for strong theory^(Suddaby 2010,p.347).
The essence of customer engagement Taking an inductive
approach, we turn to examples used previously to illustrate
customer engagement. In particular, it has been construed as
Bword of mouth, blogging, [or] providing customer ratings^
for a product or brand (Verhoef et al. 2010, p. 249). Other
sources suggest it is Bcustomer contributions of resources such
as knowledge, skills, and time, to facilitate the focal firms
development of its offering^(Jaakola and Alexander, p. 255,
emphasis added) or Bcustomer recommendations and referrals
webpostings and many other behaviors influencing the
firm and its brands^(Van Doorn et al. 2010,p.253,emphasis
added). It is relevant in contexts where Bcustomers can cocre-
ate value, cocreate competitive strategy, collaborate in the
firms innovation process, and become endogenous to the firm-
^(Bijmolt et al. 2010, p. 341, emphasis added). Jaakkola and
Alexander (2014, p. 248) thus suggest that customer engage-
ment is Bbehaviors through which customers make voluntary
resource contributions that have a brand or firm focus but go
beyond what is fundamental to the transaction.^
Customer Engagement Marketing
Firm’s deliberate effort to motivate,
empower, and measure a customer’s
voluntary contribution to the !irm ’s
marketing functions beyond the core,
economic transaction
Customer Engagement
Customer’s voluntary resource
contribution to a !irm’s
marketing function, going
beyond !inancial patr onage
Revenue bene!its
Cost savings
Firm Performance
Customer network assets
Customer persuasion capital
Customer knowledge stores
Customer creativity
Customer–Owned Resources
Fig. 1 Visual representation of
key constructs in customer
engagement marketing
314 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335
Tabl e 1 What is customer engagement? Implicit and explicit perspectives
Sources Customer engagement Typologies/examples Marketing functions
Kumar and
Bthe attitude, behavior, the level of
connectedness (1) among customers,
(2) between customers and employees,
and (3) of customers and employees
within a firm^(p. 2)
Customer purchases (e.g., posting content
on social media, inventing alternate uses
for products)
Customer referrals
Customer influence (e.g. word of mouth)
Customer knowledge (e.g., feedback and
ideas for innnovations and improvements)
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Product innovation
Hollebeek et al.
BAcustomers motivationally driven,
volitional investment of focal operant
resources (including cognitive, emotional,
behavioral, and social knowledge and skills),
and operand resources (e.g. equipment) into
brand interactions in service systems (p. 6)^
Customer resource integration
Customer knowledge sharing (e.g., sharing
information or experience with others)
Customer learning (e.g., customer socialization,
education, training, post-purchases learning)
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Product innovation
Jaakkola and
Bbehavior through which customers make
voluntary resource contributions that have
a brand or film focus but go beyond what is
fundamental to transactions^(p. 248)
Augmenting behaviors (e.g., posting content
on social media, inventing, alternating alternate
uses for products)
Co-developing behaviors (e.g., customer
support, ideas for new or improved products,
involvement in product development and
Influencing behaviors (e.g. word of mouth,
blogging,recommendations, referrals,
customer-to-customer interaction)
Mobilizing behaviors (e.g., recruitment, boycotts)
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Product innovation
Ver l e y e e t al .
Bvoluntary, discretionary customer behaviors
with a firm focus... customersinteractive,
cocreative experiences with a firm^(p. 69)
Compliance (e.g., showing respect to employees,
following organizational rules and procedures
Cooperation (e.g., providing information and
assistance to employees )
Feedback (e.g., suggestions for product
improvements, participation in new
product development)
Helping other customers (e.g., encouraging
other customers to show appropriate behaviors,
helping others to have better service experiences)
Positive word of mouth (e.g., recommendations,
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Product innovation
Vivek e t al.
Bbeyond the purchase. .. events and activities
engaged in by the consumer that are not
directly related to search, alternative
evaluation and decision making involving
brand choice^(p. 127)
Feedback to marketers, consumers, and society
Participation in activities (e.g., skill development
activities and events, creative events, online
activities, product innovation and development
events, workshops)
Word of mouth
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Product innovation
Brodie et al.
Bpsychological state that occurs by virtue
of interactive, cocreative customer experiences
with a focal agent/object (e.g., a brand) in focal
service relationships^(p. 9)
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Product innovation
Bthe level of an individual customers
motivational, brand-related and
context-dependent state of mind characterized
by specific levels of cognitive, emotional and
behavioral activity in direct brand interactions^
(p. 790)
Cognitive activity (e.g., level of concentration
and /or engrossment in the brand)
Emotional activity (e.g., level of brand-related
inspiration and/or pride)
Behavioral activity (e.g., level of energy exerted
in interacting with a focal brand)
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Bijmolt et al.
BCustomers can cocreative value, cocreate
competitive strategy, collaborate in the
firms innovation process, and become
endogenous to the firm^ (p. 341)
Co-creation (e.g., participation in the firms
activities, suggestions for service improvements,
participation in brand communities)
Customer complaints (e.g., revenge activities)
Word of mouth
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Product innovation
Kumar et al.
BCustomers. .. contribute to firms
in many ways that are beyond direct
transactions.^(p. 297)
Customer influencer behavior (e.g.,
word of mouth)
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335 315
If customer engagement is the customers voluntary,
behavioral contributions to the firm, it begs the question:
Contributions to what? Insight comes from extant
operationalizations of the construct (Kumar 2013;Kumar
et al. 2010;KumarandPansari2016). Measures of cus-
tomer engagement value capture Bthe profits associated
with the purchases generated by a customersinfluence
on other acquired customers and prospects^(Kumar 2013,
p. 36), as well as Bthe profits generated by a customers
feedback, suggestion or idea to the firm over a period of
time^(Kumar 2013, p. 39). Thus, they quantify behaviors
in which customer engagement (e.g., word of mouth, re-
ferrals, reviews, feedback) increases Bacquisition, reten-
tion, and share of wallet^(Kumar et al. 2010,p.298).
Underlying these descriptions and operationalizations is
an implicit prioritization of behaviors in which the cus-
tomer contributes to the firms marketing functions.For
example, word of mouth (e.g., blogging, webposting)
contributes to marketing communication effort, as well
as to customer acquisition, expansion, and retention
through customer-to-customer communication. Customer
feedback contributes to product innovation (Cui and Wu
2016). On this basis, customer engagement becomes rel-
evant to the firm.
We therefore define customer engagement as a customers
voluntary resource contribution to a firms marketing func-
tion, going beyond financial patronage. When customer en-
gagement occurs organically, or naturally in response to prod-
uct experiences or marketing communications with no delib-
erate actions from the firm to motivate or empower the cus-
tomer, it engenders more trust and is more memorable than
firm-sponsored communication (de Matos and Rossi 2008). It
is twice as effective as radio advertising, seven times more
effective than print advertising, and four times more effective
than personal selling (Katz and Lazarsfeld 1995); thus, it af-
fords many benefits to the firm.
Customer-owned resources in customer engagement
Essential to the proposed definition of customer engagement
is the idea that customers have something desirable, other than
their financial patronage, that they can contribute to the firms
marketing functions (Hollebeek et al. 2016; Jaakkola and
Alexander 2014). On the basis of our analysis of extant re-
search, we propose that customers possess some combination
of four separate, yet interrelated, valuable resources (i.e.,
customer-owned resources) that otherwise would be unattain-
able to the firm: network assets, persuasion capital, knowl-
edge stores, and creativity (Table 2). These customer-owned
resources are Btangible and intangible assets [that] firms [can]
use to conceive of and implement its strategies^(Barney and
Arikan 2001, p. 138) and can be drawn on to accomplish the
firms goals (Kozlenkova et al. 2014). The resources make
customer engagement relevant to firms; they underlie the very
existence of engagement marketing.
First, customer network assets refer to the number, diversi-
ty, and structure of a customers interpersonal ties within his or
her social network. Customers participate in social networks
that connect them to other existing and potential customers.
Access to these networks can increase a firms reach beyond
what is available through its own resources (e.g., purchased
leads, current customers) and provide access to broad and
diverse audiences that otherwise would not be easily reached
by the firm (Brown and Reingen 1987), so leveraging these
assets can provide a source of competitive advantage to firms.
Second, customer persuasion capital captures the degree of
trust, goodwill, and influence a customer has with other
Tabl e 1 (continued)
Sources Customer engagement Typologies/examples Marketing functions
Customer knowledge behavior (e.g.,
feedback and ideas for innovations
and improvements)
Customer referral behavior (e.g., referrals)
Product innovation
Van Doorn et al.
Bcustomer behavioral manifestations
toward the brand or firm, beyond
purchase^(p. 253)
Blogging, web posting
Customer-to-customer interaction
Feedback, suggestions for new products ideas
Organizing public actions against a firm
Recommendations, referrals, word of mouth
Writing reviews
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Product innovation
Ver h o e f e t al .
Ba behavioral manifestaion toward the
brand or firm that goes beyond
transactions^(p. 247)
Co creation with new product
development activity
Providing customer ratings
Customer-to-customer interactions
(i.e., word of mouth)
Customer acquisition,
expansion, and
Product innovation
316 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335
existing or potential customers. Extant research suggests that
information from a customer who is similar or familiar engen-
ders greater trust, appears more authentic, and seems more
diagnostic to the receiving customerspurchasedecisionthan
the same information received from marketing communica-
tion or salespeople (Arndt 1967;BrownandReingen1987;
Trusov et al. 2009). Importantly, a person can be part of a very
large social network (high network assets) but exert very little
influence over or even be distrusted within that network (low
persuasion capital). Conversely, someone with high persua-
sion capital who also has a large social network (e.g., opinion
leaders, market maven) is a particularly appealing customer,
from a customer-owned resource perspective (Feick and Price
1987; Ryu and Feick 2007). Thus, network assets can work
synergistically with persuasion capital, but they are conceptu-
ally distinct.
Third, customer knowledge stores represent a customers
accumulation of knowledge about the product, brand, firm,
and other customers. Customersfirsthand experiences with
the product and deep knowledge of their own needs often
make them optimal sources of usage and product knowledge.
Their knowledge thus can enhance the development of mar-
keting communication (Feick and Price 1987), improve
customer-to-customer support, and enrich new product devel-
opment contributions (Nambisan 2002). Again, knowledge
stores can work synergistically with other resources, but a
person who is highly familiar with the product and its uses
(high knowledge stores) does not necessarily have high per-
suasion capital (e.g., the customer may be introverted, uncon-
vincing in his or her arguments, or unwilling to share personal
Fourth, customer creativity is a customersBproduction,
conceptualization, or development of novel, useful ideas, pro-
cesses, or solutions to problems,^which can be a source of
competitive advantage in areas such as creative marketing
communication and product innovation (Kozinets et al.
2008, p. 341). Creative customer-generated content also can
motivate idea generation and provide unique insights into
meaningful product innovations, which helpensure new prod-
uct success (Sethi et al. 2001). In summary, customers own
four types of resources valuable to firms that are conceptually
distinct, but exhibit many synergies.
What is customer engagement marketing?
Any definition of engagement marketing should accommo-
date the diverse forms of customer engagement. Many re-
searchers have described engagement marketing as Bold wine
in a new bottle^or nothing more than Bextended relationship
marketing^(Brodie et al. 2011,p.254).Thus,itrequiressome
distinction from other marketing strategies. We propose that
customer engagement marketing is a firms deliberate effort to
motivate, empower, and measure a customers voluntary con-
tribution to the firms marketing functions beyond the core,
economic transaction. Although customer engagement can
occur organically, engagement marketing means that the firm
attempts to guide this role for the customer in ways that are
beneficial to the firm, such that it is deliberately initiated and
actively managed (Schmitt et al. 2011). Extant research typi-
cally studies each type of engagement marketing independent-
ly, but integrating these findings reveals that engagement mar-
keting has five distinct characteristics that distinguish it from
traditional strategies such as promotion or relationship mar-
keting, as summarized in Table 3.
First, the primary objective of engagement marketing is to
encourage customersactive participation in and contribution
to the firms marketing functions. Word-of-mouth marketing,
for example, motivates customers to participate in the
Tabl e 2 Typology of customer-owned resources
Types of customer-owned resources Descriptions Value to firm
Customer network assets The number, diversity, and structure
of a customers interpersonal ties
within his or her social network
Increases reach of engagement marketing initiative
Provides access to particularly influential individuals
or unique subgroups
Customer persuasion capital The degree of trust, goodwill, and influence
a customer has with other existing or
potential customers
Increases the influence of the content shared over
other customerspurchase decisions
Customer knowledge stores A customers accumulation of knowledge
about the product, brand, firm, and
other customers
Improves the quality and relevance of the content shared
throughcustomer engagement behaviors (e.g., blogging,
writhing reviews)
Aids in the development, management and dissemination
of the brand narrative
Improves customer-to-customer support and customer
contributions to new product development
Customer creativity BProduction, conceptualization, or development
of novel, useful ideas, processes, or solutions
to problems^(Kozinets et al. 2008,p.341)
Provides unique insights into marketing functions
(e.g., new product development, product usages)
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335 317
acquisition of new customers and the dispersion of mar-
keting communication by leveraging customer network
assets (Kozinets et al. 2010). Crowdsourcing, which taps
into customer creativity, facilitates customer contributions
to product innovation (Howe 2006). Social customer rela-
tionship management leverages customer knowledge in
their contribution to post-purchase support and customer
retention (Malthouse et al. 2013). Unlike engagement
marketing strategies, promotion marketing typically refers
to the firmsuseofaspecialoffertoraiseacustomers
interest in and influence the purchase of the focal product
over competitorsproducts (Wierenga and Soethoudt
2010), with the objective of inducing a single transaction
with the focal firm. Relationship marketing entails Ball
marketing activities directed towards establishing, devel-
oping, and maintaining successful relational exchanges^
(Morgan and Hunt 1994, p. 22), so its primary objective
is to retain the focal customer and motivate future, repeat
transactions. For example, loyalty programs leverage the
rewards earned through past customer transactions to mo-
tivate future transactions (Palmatier et al. 2006;Verhoef
2003). Engagement marketing marks a shift in focus from
both these forms of traditional marketing, in which eco-
nomic transactions with the focal customer are key, to
address customer contributions beyond the economic
Second, the effectiveness of engagement marketing de-
pends on the firmsabilitytoidentifyandleveragecustomer-
owned resources (Hollebeek et al. 2016). Assessments of cus-
tomer value from this perspective pertain to the value of
customer-owned resources and potential future contributions
to the firms marketing functions (Kumar et al. 2010). For
example, Anheuser-Busch identified customers with
Binfluence power^and Blarge social networks [who] were
predisposed to share^for its BUp For Whatever^engagement
initiative (Event Marketer 2015, p. 2). In contrast, in promotion
marketing efforts, the assessments of customer value are based
on customerspurchasing power and share of wallet
(DelVecchio et al. 2006;WierengaandSoethoudt2010); for
relationship marketing, customer lifetime value is the central
metric, such that past customer transactions help predict the net
profit of the future economic relationship with that customer
(Venkatesan and Kumar 2004). In recognizing customer value
beyond financial patronage, engagement marketing provides a
more holistic view of the customer than either promotion or
relationship marketing (Chung et al. 2016).
Third, information flows differ in engagement marketing
compared with promotion or relationship marketing. In en-
gagement marketing, information flows through networked
communication among the customer, other customers, and
the firm (Kumar et al. 2016), such that groups and communi-
ties hold prominent positions (Kozinets et al. 2010). In
Tabl e 3 Five key differences between engagement marketing and other marketing strategies
Engagement marketing Promotion marketing Relationship marketing
Afirms deliberate effort to motivate,
empower, and measure a customers
voluntary contribution to the firms
marketing functions beyond the core,
economic transaction (i.e., customer
The use of a special offer to raise a customers
interest and influence the purchase of the
focal product versus competitorsproducts
(Wierenga and Soethoudt 2010)
BAll marketing activities directed
towards establishing, developing,
and maintaining successful relational
exchanges^(Morgan and Hunt 1994,p.22)
1. Objective of the marketing initiative
Encourage a customersactive
participation in and contribution
to the firms marketing functions
Induce a single transactiom with the
focal firm versus a competitive firm
Retain the focal customer and
motivate future, repeat transaction
with the customer
2. Assesment of customer value
Customer-owned resources and
potential future contributions to the
firms marketing functions
Purchasing power and customer share of wallet Customer lifetime value from past
customer transactions
3. Flow of information
Networked communication among
the customer, other customers,
and the firm
One-way communication from the firm
to the customer
Bilateral communication between
the customer and the firm
4. Firm-directed customer learning
Training a customer how to contribute
to the firms marketing functions
Teaching the customer how to buy and
use the focal product
Understanding the idiosyncratic norms
of the exchange relationship
5. Customer control over value creation
Customer exercises high control,
which can affect outcomes relevant
to the broader customer population
Customer has no control over value creation
and is a receiver of marketing
Customer control is negotiated with
the firm, which affects outcomes relevant
to the focal customer-firm relationship
318 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335
promotion marketing, the information flow instead involves
one-way communication from the firm to the customer.
Strategic decisions revolve around the channel, source, and
content of communication (Duncan and Moriarty 1998). In
relationship marketing, information flow is conceptualized
as bilateral, between the customer and the firm, and prior
research focuses on information asymmetries and the breadth
of communication shared between these dyadic parties
(Palmatier et al. 2006). Engagement marketing instead takes
a more networked view on information exchange.
Fourth, engagement marketing marks a shift in firm-
directed customer learning, because the firm must train cus-
tomers how to enact their new roles as pseudo-marketers (e.g.,
how to contribute resources). In promotion marketing, cus-
tomer education involves teaching customers how to buy
and use the product; relationship marketing educates cus-
tomers about the idiosyncratic norms of the exchange relation-
ship, in an effort to improve future exchanges. Thus, the focus
shifts from how to buy or use the product, now and in the
future, to educating customers about how they can contribute
to the firms marketing functions.
Fifth, engagement marketing requires relinquishing control
and shifting value creation in certain marketing functions,
from the firm to the customer. In engagement marketing, the
customer influences the content and outcomes of many mar-
keting functions that potentially influence the broader custom-
er population (Hollebeek et al. 2016). This format varies dra-
matically from promotion marketing, in which customers are
recipients of, rather than contributors to, marketing. It also is
distinct from relationship marketing, in which value gets ne-
gotiated between the customer and firm over time, and the
customers influence is limited to their relationship, not ex-
tended to the broader customer population.
In summary, engagement marketing is distinct in its objec-
tives, assessment of customer value, information flows, cus-
tomer education focus, and level of customer control. Just as
promotion marketing can influence relationship marketing
though (e.g., offering special discounts might increase a cus-
tomers loyalty), engagement marketing might influence and
be influenced by both promotion and relationship marketing.
For example, relationship marketing may facilitate customer
engagement through enhanced customer trust and commit-
ment (de Matos and Rossi 2008), and engagement marketing
may lead to more purchases or enhance customerbrand rela-
tionships by increasing customerstrust, commitment, and
satisfaction (Bowden 2009;KumarandPansari2016;
Ramani and Kumar 2008; Van Doorn et al. 2010).
Typology of customer engagement marketing initiatives
Engagement marketing consists of three core elements:
motivating, empowering, and measuring customer contri-
butions to marketing. However, the ways firms enact these
three aspects can vary. We identify two primary forms of
engagement marketing initiatives, task-based and experi-
ential. Task-based engagement initiatives are a firmsini-
tiatives outside the core, economic transaction in which
structured tasks guide, voluntary customer contributions
to marketing functions (e.g., write a review, refer a custom-
er, provide support to other customers). Experiential en-
gagement initiatives are a firms initiatives outside the
core, economic transaction in which shared, interactive ex-
periences promote voluntary, autonomous customer contri-
butions to marketing functions (see Table 4).
Task-based customer engagement marketing As the mar-
keting environment evolves and the benefits of customer con-
tributions to marketing functions become more evident, more
firms pursuestrategies thatactively and intentionally stimulate
customer engagement (Kozinets et al. 2010). Early engage-
ment marketing efforts were mostly task - based. Extant re-
search tends to investigate one specific task-based engage-
ment marketing initiative at a time, such as word-of-mouth
marketing (Kozinets et al. 2010), crowdsourcing (Howe
2006), or social customer relationship management
(Malthouse et al. 2013). A review reveals though that all
task-based engagement initiatives involve some element of
work. That is, customers use their resources to complete some
structured task (e.g., refer a customer) that involves mental or
physical effort, usually accompanied by some form of reward
(e.g., discounts, points, badges). Examples include Bleisure
firms proactively ask[ing] recent customers to provide ratings
on independent comparison websites Layschips ask[ing]
customers todevelop a new chips flavor in a contest^(Verhoef
et al. 2010, p. 248). Whirlpool asked customers to share how
they used their Whirlpool products (e.g., knowledge stores),
which generated 44,000 pieces of authentic content and
63,000 social media interactions, as well as product innova-
tion contributions (Crowd Tap Editor 2015). Because task-
based engagement initiatives mostly motivate customers ex-
trinsically, extant research tends to focus on identifying their
types and calibrating and determining the influence of Bpay-
per-engagement^incentives (Ryu and Feick 2007; Verlegh
et al. 2013).
Customer participation in task-based engagement initia-
tives can increase revenue and lower costs (e.g., acquisition,
customer support, product launch costs; Fuchs and Schreier
2011; Schmitt et al. 2011). However, engagement initiatives
that extrinsically motivate customers with economic incen-
tives tend to be short lived, not cost effective, unsustainable,
and prone to opportunism, which can make the firm vulnera-
ble to customer abuse (Verlegh et al. 2013). Extrinsic rewards
also tend to undermine relationships (Liu et al. 2015), produce
temporary compliance, discourage risk-taking and creativity,
and fail to induce lasting change, because they do not create an
enduring commitment to any value or action (Pink 2011).
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335 319
Tabl e 4 Relevent research on customer engagement marketing
Panel A: Relevent research on task-based engagement initiatives
Authors Description of Engagement Tasks Research Designs Findings/Propostions
Arndt (1967) Incentivizing words of mouth Field experiment Encouraging word of mouth with task-based initiatives
helps with new product acceptance when the resulting
comments are favorable but hinders acceptance when
the resulting comments are unfavorable.
Brown and
Reingen (1987)
Stimulating organic customer
Structured interviews Customerssocial networks are key for generating
word-of-mouth behavior in task-based initiatives.
Within customerssocila networks, weak ties are
more important for obtaining a larger reach and
accessing other subgroups, whereas strong ties are
more important for activating the flow of referral
information and influencing othersdecision making.
Ryu and Feick
Incentivizing customer referrals Experimental studies Rewards increase the effectiveness of task-based initiatives.
When the brand of the tie is weak, rewarding only the
participating customer is most effective, whereas when
the brand or tie is strong, rewarding both the participating
customer and the referred customer is most effective.
Godes and
Mayzlin (2009)
Requesting and incentivizing
word of mouth
Field test and
experimental study
Task-based initiatives that target non-customers outperform
those initiatives that target loyal customers, because those
within loyal customers social network are more likely to
already have been informed about the firm and its products.
This effect is even stronger for products with low or moderate
initial levels of awareness.
Trusov et al.
Incentivizing customer referrals
with non-monetary reward
Secondary data analysis
with firm-provided data
Task-based initiatives that encourage participants to contribute
to customer acquisition efforts by emphasizing network
building have longer carryover effects on the future value
of the acquired customers and are received more positively
by the acquired customer than traditional marketing efforts.
Fuchs et al. (2010)Requestingparticipationinthenew
product development selection
Experimental studies Firms that use task-based initiatives, which shift at least some
of the power from the firm to the customer for new product
development processes, generate stronger demand for the
new products than those firms that maintain complete control,
because customers develop stronger feelings of
psychological ownership toward the new products. This
effect diminishes when the new product does not reflect
customerscontributions or when customers do not believe
in their ability to make sound decisions specific to new
product development.
Kozinets et al.
Seeding a product, related
accessories, and information
among influential bloggers
Naturalistic, qualitative
Targeting customers with high persuasion capital and network
assets with incentivized (free product and information)
task-based initiatives comes with the potential risk of eroding
the authenticity of the generated content. Participating customers
manage these effects by only sharing content that
is personal, in line with their voice, and communally
Kumar et al.
Incentivizing customer referrals
with a monetary reward
Field experiment Task-based initiatives that target customers with low referral
value (calculated from the customers actual past referral
behavior) have a greater possible impact on performance,
because those customers have potentially underutilized
resources (e.g., persuasion capital, network assets). Customer
with high referral value may have already exhausted their
resources and thus will have less to offer the firm as result.
Fuchs and Schreier
Requesting participation in the new
product development process
Experimental studies Firms that use task-based initiatives to engage customers in
the creation and/or selection of new product designs for
production (vs. firms that do not) generate higher levels
of perceived customer orientation, corporate attitudes,
purchases, loyalty, positive word of mouth, and
corporate commitment.
Schmitt et al.
Incentivizing customer referrals
with a monetary reward
Longitudinal study Customers acquired through task-based initiatives have a
higher contribution margin and retention rate and also are
more valuable than customers acquired through traditional
marketing; however, the higher contributes rates erodes
320 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335
Thus, task-based engagement initiatives promote a single in-
stance of firm-defined customer engagement, which may be
less effective for inducing long-term customer engagement.
Experiential customer engagement marketing Experiential
engagement initiatives address some of the shortcomings of
task-based engagement initiatives. A key distinction is that
they resemble play more than work and they tend to generate
heightened positive emotions and enjoyment. Thus, experien-
tial initiatives are often desirable and valuable for their own
sake. Whereas task-based initiatives often focus on extrinsi-
cally motivating a specific instance of customer engagement,
Tabl e 4 (continued)
over time. The value of a referred customer also varies across
segments, so a firm must carefully identify and
target customers for more effective initiative.
Verleg h e t a l .
Requesting and incentivizing
customer referrals
Experimental studies and
Monetary incentives (versus non-monetary incentives) for
task-based initiatives can have ill effects, including
lowered brand evaluations and purchase intentions, because
people infer ulterior motives. To overcome these effects, firms
can reward both the participating customer and the
referred customer (instead of only the participating
customer) and/or use symbolic (instead of monetary)
Panel B: Relevant research on experiential engagement initiatives
Arnould and Price
Commercial river rafting trips Ethnographic field study
with survey
Experiential events can lead to interrelated and dynamic
aspects of self-transformation such as personal growth,
self-renewal, integration into the community, and harmony
with nature. Experiential events are more transformational
when they are usual, emotionally intense, interactive, and
interpersonal-traits that largely depend on the firms
employees to create and deliver.
Price et al. (1995) Commercial river rafting trips Ethnographic field study
with survey
Delivering experiential events requires extended, effectively
charged, and intimate interactions between customers and
employees. Thus, employeesability to manage customers
emotions and goals beyond functional performance (e.g., fun,
community, personal challenge) during the event
is key.
Belk and Costa
Fantasy Mountain Man community Ethnographic study When an experiential event is highly communal, it is more
likely to facilitate self-transformation. Encouraging participants
to construct a shared social space and assume
fantasy roles will make an event more communal.
McAlexander and
Schouten (1998)
Harley Davidson and Jeep
branded events
Ethnographic field study Experiential events generate shifts in consumer attitudes,
including loyalty toward the brand, and generate customer
engagement (word of mouth) when firms deliver experiences that
are unique, communal, and relevant to the
participating customersidentity.
Kozinets (2002) Burning Man project (i.e.,
one-week-long antimarket event)
Ethnographic study Experiential events seemingly free of market influence lead
to more dramatic self-transformations; when these events
become too commercialized or the focal brand or product
is too involved, the transformative effect may be eroded.
et al. (2002)
Jeep Jamboree, Camp Jeep,
and Jeep 101 branded events
Ethnographic field study
with survey
Experiential events that encourage participants to communicate and
share their experiences with one another
will enhance the relationships among the customer, brand,
firm, product, and other customers.
Schouten et al.
Camp Jeep branded event Pretest/post-test
quasi-experimental field
Experiential events generate long-term shifts in beliefs and attitudes,
facilitate self-trasformation, strengthen ties to a
brand community, enhance brand loyalty.
Brodie et al.
Online firm-sponsored brand
community for the fitness
company Vibra-Train Ltd
Netrographic study Peoples level of engagement with a brand varies over time.
Experiential events that are co-creative and interactive lead to
higher degrees of loyalty, satisfaction, empowerment,
connection, emotional bonding, trust, and commitment.
Tumbat and Belk
Commercialized climbing
Ethnographic study An individual experiential event (rather than a communal
experiential event) can still lead to self-transformation as
long as the event involves goal-directed interactions.
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335 321
experiential initiatives center on intrinsically motivating cus-
tomer contributions by using experiential events to stimulate
heightened psychological and emotional connections to the
firm, brand, or other customers. Accordingly, experiential en-
gagement initiatives often generate longer-lasting memories
and shifts in beliefs and attitudes than task-based initiatives,
fostering emotional attachment to the firm and supporting
more long-term customer engagement (Schouten et al.
2007). The experiential event itself becomes central to cus-
tomer engagement, enriching not just the resulting customer-
generated content (e.g., photos, videos) but also any content
that the firm directly extracts from the event for marketing
communications. For example, Anheuser-BuschsUpfor
Whatever experiential engagement initiative used each event
as a Bcontent factory,^transforming attendees into talent for
the campaign, with radio frequency identification bands that
triggered immediate sharing of photos and videos to social
media and a firm-sponsored Whatever USA online photo gal-
lery. Thus, task-based initiatives encourage customers to com-
plete a single firm-defined task, but experiential initiatives use
events to motivate autonomous customer contributions.
Although relatively little research investigates experiential
engagement initiatives, prior research examining extraordi-
nary consumption experiences, albeit in the context of a core
offering, provides some valuable insights into the characteris-
tics of experiential initiatives that can facilitate customer con-
tributions to the firm. Experiential engagement initiatives, by
definition, are communal (bring people together in physical or
virtual space), which can make people feelas if they are part of
something larger than themselves and create a sense of pur-
pose and desire to contribute (Pink 2011;Schoutenetal.
2007). Experiential engagement initiatives often are spontane-
ous and beyond a customers expectations of an economic
firm relationship, so they can prompt gratitude, along with a
strong desire to reciprocate (Harmeling et al. 2015). When
they are interactive and multisensory, these experiences also
can encourage self-transformation and facilitate the incorpo-
ration of thebrand into the self-concept (Schouten et al. 2007).
Once a part of the self, behaviors that support the brand also
become self-supportive, such that people likely pursue them
more intensely (Markus and Kunda 1986). In summary, task-
based initiatives motivate participating customers to complete
a single firm-defined task; experiential initiatives use events to
motivate autonomous customer contributions.
Conceptual model of customer engagement
As a final step to develop a theory of customer engagement
marketing, we articulate a nomological network of engage-
ment marketing and identify two critical pathways through
which engagement marketing affects long-term customer
engagement. What should be central to understanding engage-
ment marketing is whatever distinguishes sustainable, benefi-
cial customer engagement from that which is unsustainable
and ineffective, or even detrimentalthat is, whatever pro-
duces successful engagement marketing. It must be that which
prompts customers to continue to engage with the firm, be-
yond participation in the initial engagement initiative.
We propose that engagement marketing may invoke long-
term customer engagement by altering the experience of the
core offering and its direct effect on the customer. When firms
do not deliberately work to stimulate and guide customer en-
gagement, it still can ensue, primarily in response to product
experiences (Hennig-Thurau et al. 2003). We propose that
engagement marketing strengthens and enriches the cus-
tomers mental representation of the core offering, which im-
proves the product experience. It also has implications for
how the customer views him- or herself in relation to the firm,
thus underlying the transition from customer to pseudo-mar-
keter. It can spark feelings of psychological ownership of the
firm, brand, or product. Psychological ownership is Bthe pos-
sessive feeling that some object is MINE,^and research
suggests that its influence is distinct from that of constructs
more typically studied in marketing such as commitment and
satisfaction (Van Dyne and Pierce 2004, p. 440). It can facil-
itate self-transformation, or a change in a personsmentalself-
image (Maslow 1964). Psychological ownership and self-
transformation are thus instrumental to engagement market-
ing, because they motivate customers to (1) pursue behaviors
beyond the economic transaction that benefit the firm, (2) use
their own customer-owned resources to preserve and enhance
the firm, and (3) view firm requests as more relevant than
competitor requests. Thus, engagement marketing enhances
the product experience and facilitates the transformation of
the customer into an active contributor to the firmsmarketing
functions (Fig. 2). With two overarching tenets and a series of
corresponding propositions, we parsimoniously describe the
effects of engagement marketing on firm performance. The
tenets are based on extant theory, empirical evidence, and
business practice, and we illustrate them with a series of case
examples (Table 5).
Effect of customer engagement marketing on the product
Engagement marketing can alter the experience of the core
offering and affect long-term customer engagement.
Cognitive psychology research on knowledge structures sug-
gests that perceptions of the core offering are stored in cus-
tomersminds as an associative network, consisting of cogni-
tive bonds, which refer to the nodes (i.e., concepts) and links
between nodes (i.e., relationships between concepts) (Anderson
clude product performance memories, such as quality
322 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335
assessments, and brand associations, such as brand reputation
and personality. Customer engagement initiatives might both
influence existing cognitive bonds and build new cognitive
bonds, by affecting the strength, content, and organization of
knowledge structures. This effect then influences the recall of
product information, recognition of additional relevant informa-
tion, and product imagery, ultimately enhancing the relationship
between the product experience and customer engagement
(Burke and Srull 1988;MacInnisandPrice1987).
Engagement initiatives by definition occur prior to or be-
tween transactions, providing a vehicle through which mar-
keters can influence customers beyond the product experi-
ence. They require active participation, which has a greater
impact on memory and learning than does hearing or seeing
alone, as in traditional marketing (Zimmerman and Schunk
2001). Task-based engagement initiatives typically build on
the core offering, requiring some degree of mental effort to
complete the task. Although the initiatives can vary in func-
tion, some consistency in form typically exists, such that the
same task gets repeated over time (e.g., post a comment, like a
photo). For example, DovesBSpeak Beautiful^task-based
initiative repeatedly asked customers to tweet new positive
body image thoughts (e.g., share advice for building confi-
dence), which resulted in 168,000 pieces of participant-
generated content (Shorty Awards 2016). Behavioral repeti-
tion strengthens cognitive bonds, which increases the accessi-
bility of that aspect of memory and improves recall (Burke
and Srull 1988). Task-based initiatives also require customers
to apply brand or product information in a new context, further
increasing the memory-strengthening capabilities. As these
applied behaviors increase in diversity, the initiative can create
competitive interferences favorable to the firm, such that focal
product information is recalled more easily than competitors
(Burke and Srull 1988).
Experiential engagement initiatives also have implica-
tions for customersmental representations of the core
offering, such as strengthening preexisting cognitive
bonds, similar to task-based initiatives. However, experi-
ential initiatives have greater potential to create new cog-
nitive bonds than do task-based initiatives. Experiential
initiatives typically incorporate sensory information such
as taste, touch, sounds, and smells, as well as emotional
and social information that subsequently links to the men-
tal representation of the brand or core offering (Arnould
and Price 1993). Each of these information types helps
create more vivid images that are then associated with the
product. For example, Anheuser-Busch held spontaneous
events as part of its Up for Whatever experiential engage-
ment initiative, including flying participants to a fake town
(Whatever USA) for a series of extravagant, multisensory
events (e.g., ice cream socials with Vanilla Ice). Thus, ex-
periential engagement initiatives enhance existing and cre-
ate new cognitive bonds, linking the core offering to a
more diverse nodes that include multisensory, emotional,
and social information, which enriches the customers
mental representation of the core offering (MacInnis and
Price 1987).
When a customer experiences the core offering, it works as
a retrieval cue, activating product nodes in memory and trig-
gering associated information based on links to those activated
nodes (Anderson 1983). Strong cognitive bonds createa sense
of familiarity with the focal product relative to other products,
which enhances the customers product experience and likeli-
hood that the experience will motivate customer engagement
(e.g., word of mouth). Furthermore, new associations change
the perception of the core offering to include unique roles,
social connections, emotions, and multisensory information,
making memories of their participation in the initiative more
accessible and easier to recall (MacInnis and Price 1987). For
example, Land Rover deploys an experiential initiative that
includes a series of events for both current and potential cus-
tomers, such as tailgating parties and off-road test drives of
Experience Tas k -b as ed
P3(P5, P6, P7)
P4 (P8, P9, P10)
Customer Engagement
Tenet 1: Customer engagement marketing enhances
the effect of the product experience on customer
engagement by strengthening existing cognitive
bonds (task-based engagement initiatives) and
building new cognitive bonds (experiential
engagement initiatives) that enrich the product
Tenet 2: Customer engagement
marketing increases customer
engagement through increased
psychological ownership (task-
based) and self-transformation
(experiential) that is bene!icial
to the !irm.
Fig. 2 Conceptual model of the
effects of customer engagement
marketing on customer
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335 323
Tabl e 5 Business examples illustrating customer engagement marketing initiatives
Company & sources Relevant tenets
(Propositions) &
Descriptions of and motivations
for customer engagement marketing
Effect of customer engagement
marketing initiatives
Task-Based Engagement Marketing Initiatives
Dove, Johnson
(2016); Saw
Horse Media
Tenet 1 (P1): Customer
network assets,
knowledge stories,
and creativity
In early 2015, Dove launched the BSpeak
Beautiful^task-based engagement initiative on
Twitter that targeted Bdigitally savvy and so-
cially conscious^people, to contribute to
Doves marketing communications in its
BSpeak Beautiful^campaign. Dove tweeted a
series of tasks that tapped into customer empa-
thy and creativity by having existing and po-
tential customers tweet positive body image
thoughts about themselves and their friends in
unique ways (e.g., share advice for building
confidence). Dove provided participants with
the hashtag #SpeakBeautiful to leverage their
existing social networks and expand the initia-
tives reach. One year later, Dove extended this
initiave with an additional task that enabled
participants to share (retweet) certain posts from
the brands social media page with the hashtag
#SpeakBeautifulEffect. As an incentive to
contribute, participants were shown Bspeak
beautiful effect^once they shared the posts.
Dove provided different analyses of a partici-
pants previous tweets (e.g., breakdown of
positive and negative words used in posts) to
encourage repeat participation and also allowed
participants to share the results with others in
their social network.
Within two days of the launch of DovesBSpeak
Beautiful^task-based engagement initiative,
the hashtag #Speak Beautiful was the top
trending hashtag. In 2015, people used #Speak
Beautiful 168,000 times, driving 800 million
social media impressions and reaching an au-
dience of 3 million. There were 5.9 million re-
lated tweets overall, of which 411,000 men-
tioned the Dove name brand. According to
Twiiter, the BSpeak Beautiful^initiative had a
long-term effect on brand affinity, increasing
brand sentiment by 17%. When dove expanded
this initiative to include an additional task and
the hashtag #Speak BeautifulEffect, the brands
initial tweet was retweeted more anthan 17,000
times and was liked by nearly 4000 people in
the next two months.
Nike and
Morrissey (2010);
Patel (2009).
Ten et 2 (P 3):
Customer network
assets and creativity
During the 2009 Tour de France, Nike partnered
with the Livestrong Foundation to launch the
BChalkbot^task-based engagement initiative,
to generate contributions to the brandsmar-
keting communication. Nike provided the
hashtag #livestrong to enable customers to
contribute their creative messages of
inspiration, hope, and encouragement to the
Tour bikers, via text, the Livestrong website, or
in reply to the firm-sponsored account on
Twitter (@chalkbot). Nike targeted existing and
potential customers who typically would be
unable to attend the event and gave them a
means to participate. As an incentive, selected
messages were printed on Tour roads, to am-
plify the participants voice. Nike also provided
a website link to a robot-captured photo of the
printed message on the roads, along with its
GPS coordinates, and allowed participants to
share the image with others in their social net-
NikesBChalkbot^task-based engagement initia-
tive lead to a more than 4, 000 follower gain on
Twitter over the course of a month ultimately
leading to over 36,000 participant-generated
messages of which thousands were printed
across 13 stages of the Tour de France. This
initiative helped to raise over $4 million for the
Livestrong cause with donations coming from
people worldwide. Sales for NikesLivestrong
apparel line increased by 46%. This initiative
also received widespread attentionacross media
outlets and won a number of international ad-
vertising awards (e.g., one of the 10 Best Digital
Campaigns of the Decade).
Sour Patch Kids;
Johnson (2015);
Saw Horse Media
Ten et 2 (P 3):
Customer network
assets, persuasion
capital, and creativity
Sour Patch Kids has a history of deploying
task-based engagement initiatives that target its
core young demographic in an effort to increase
brand awareness, contribute to the brands cus-
tomer acquisition efforts, and generate content
for marketing communication. One of these
initiatives tapped customer creativity by
assigning existing and potential customers the
task of writing and submitting unique love
stories on Wattpad, a social media platform for
The Sour Patch Kids BSour Then Sweet^
task-based engagement initiative attracted
roughly 19,000 followers for the brand on
Wattpad, an inspiring social media platform for
writers, and resulted in a total of 350
participant-generated story entries. Three
stories written by popular Wattpad members
were read by over 249,000 people and led to 1.2
million social media interactions. People used
the hashtag #SPKSAD over 2000 times, which
324 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335
Tabl e 5 (continued)
Company & sources Relevant tenets
(Propositions) &
Descriptions of and motivations
for customer engagement marketing
Effect of customer engagement
marketing initiatives
up-and-coming writers and the worlds largest
community of mobile readers, as part of the
brandsBSour Then Sweet^love story-writing
contest and campaign. The brand targeted
members with high persuasion capital by iden-
tifying three popular Wattpad members with
extensive social networks and inviting them to
write and post their own love stories and en-
courage others to follow their lead. To enable
participants to contribute their unique content to
the campaign, Sour Patch Kids used the hashtag
#SPKSAD. As an incentive, the winning story
would be turned into an animated digital film
and featured across the brands social media
accounts and on Wattpadshomepage.
generated over 30 million social media impres-
sions. This initiative also earned widespread
media coverage across a number of outlets, in-
cluding Adweek and Media Media Posts
Engage: Teens.
Whirlpool; Neff
(2015); Crowd
Tap E dito r (2015).
Ten et 1 (P 1):
Customer network
assets, knowledge
stores, and creativity
In 2015, Whirlpool launched the BEvery Day,
Care Project^task-based initiative to connect
customers to one another and induce contribu-
tions to the brands customer acquisition,
expansion, and retention efforts. Whirlpool
used multiple hashtags including
#EveryDayCare, #CareCrowd, and #ItsAllCare
to provide an infrastructure for existing cus-
tomers to contribute to the campaign by sharing
the Bthe ways in which their families care^and
how they use Whirlpool products. Whirlpool
leveraged customer knowledge stores and crea-
tivity to enhance marketing communication by
encouraging customers to share their Whirlpool
knowledge in creative ways (e.g., authentic im-
ages and stories) in social media posts.
Customersposts served as a means of support to
other customers, and also provided unique in-
sights into product innovations by showing how
customers were using their Whirlpool products.
WhirlpoolsBEvery Day, Care Project^task-based
engagement initiative resulted in a 44,000
pieces of authentic participant-generated
content, which ultimately led to over 120 mil-
lion social media impressions. A single
participant-generated video alone had over 2
million social media impressions and 63,000
social media interactions. WhirlpoolsTwitter
followers increased by 31%, online brand sen-
timent increased six-fold, and purchase inten-
tions increased by 10%. In addition, in the six
months that followed this initiative, sales in-
creased by 6.6%.
Experiential Engagement Marketing Initiatives
Absolut; Lee
(2016); Schultz
Ten et 1 (P 2) an d
Customer network
assets, persuasion
capital, and creativity
Absolut often implements experiential
engagement initiatives that include surprise
events designed to provide Bout-this-world. ..
transformative experiences^to existing and
potential customers, to generate and capture
autonomous contributions to the brands
marketing communication. In 2015, as part of
the BAbsolut Nights^campaign, the brand
hosted an BEletrik House^party in Los Angeles
that provided participants with a variety of
immersive, communal experiences (e.g. drone
bartenders, backyard concert, dance floor).
Absolut identified and invited around 400
social influencers with creative backgrounds
(e.g., photographer, blogger) and high
persuasion capital to the event to create and
share high quality content. The brand extracted
content from the event and enabled autonomous
customer contributions with the hashtag
#AbsolutNights, an Absolut Electrik photo
filter, and designated comment boxes online.
Absolut also provided participants with a
firm-sponsored online brand community, which
AbsolutsBElectrik House^experiential
engagement initiative event reached its
maximum capacity for the venue. The initiative
ultimately led to 63,000 social media
interactions and 180 million social media
impressions. The brand identified and invited
400 people with creative backgrounds (e.g.,
photographers, bloggers) and high persuasion
capital to participate in the event, who
ultimately mentioned the event 1200 times in
social media posts. This initiative generated
1400 media news stories, and the sales impact
was more than 1.5 times the forecasted
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335 325
Tabl e 5 (continued)
Company & sources Relevant tenets
(Propositions) &
Descriptions of and motivations
for customer engagement marketing
Effect of customer engagement
marketing initiatives
served as an additional infrastructure for
participant-created content and event and
brand-related discussions.
Bud Light; Event
Marketer (2015);
Nudd (2014).
Ten ets 1 ( P1, 2 ) a nd
Customer network
assets, persuasion
capital, and
Bud Light has a history of implementing
experiential engagement initiatives that use
events to transform existing and potential
customers into talent for the campaign and
generate content that can be directly extracted
by the brand. The events themselves serve as
Bcontent factories^for the brands marketing
communication. As part of its BUp For
Whatever^campaign, Bud Light held over
22,000 surprise, communal events across the
United States and held on site auditions for the
chance to win a visit to Whatever, USA, a fake
town created entirely by the brand. The event
auditions were captured and uploaded onto the
firm-sponsored YouTube channel. Selected
participants wore radio frequency identification
bands at the event that triggered immediate
sharing of photos and videos to social media
feeds and an online firm-sponsored Whatever,
USA, photo gallery. Bud Light provided par-
ticipants eith the hashtag #UpForWhatever and
a Bud Light photo filter to encourage them to
share their personal experiences with others in
their existing social networks. In addition, Bud
Light identified selected participants who had a
large social networks and who were
predisposed to share content to receive surprise
experiences that were then captured and
uploaded onto the brands You Tube channel.
Bud LightsBUp For Whatever^experiential
engagement initiative resulted in more than 1.8
million participants, of which 1.4 million
participated in over 22,000 hosted on-site
events. More than 100,000 people auditioned to
visit the fake, brand-created Whatever, USA,
town. The brand ultimately selected 1000 peo-
ple to visit, and they alone created 37,000
initiative-related media posts. More than 15
million people directly assesses content associ-
ated with the hashtag #UpForWhatever, leading
to over 2.5 million social media interactions and
587 social media impressions, which exceeded
forecasted expectations by 267%. This initiative
reached 40% more millennials than the cam-
paigns Super Bowl television advertising.
Website traffic for was also
over 212% higher that it was during the Super
Bowl. In terms of the direct impact on sales, by
the time the initiative ended, a five-year on--
premise sales decline was cut in half, the
four-week usage among millennials jumped 39
%, and brand preference indicators increased by
Nikon; Friedman
(2013); Saw
Horse Media
Ten ets 1 ( P2) a n d
Customer network
assets, persuasion
capital, and
knowledge stores
At the 2013 South by Southwest Interactive, Film
and Music Conference and Festival (SXSW),
Nikon launched the BThe Warner Sound
Captured by Nikon^experiential engagement
initiative to generate customer contributions to
the brands marketing communication that
increased brand awareness and excitement for
key products. Nikon gave participants cameraas
to capture live performances and enabled them
to share their live-streamed captured content
automatically by providing the hashtag
#NikonWarnerSound. Nikon also set up on-site
booths where participants could us
Wi-Fi-enabled cameras to share any captured
images instantly to their existing social net-
works. To extend the initiativesreachandac-
cess unique subgroups, Nikon invited select
artists to participate in the initiative by provid-
ing the artists with Nikon cameras and the
hashtag #NikonWarnerSound to capture and
share their own personal experiences leading up
to their shows.
The BWarner Sound Captured by Nikon^
experiential engagement initiative stimulated a
large number of online conversations. The
initiatives hashtag #NikonWarnerSound was a
top trending hashtag on all three insights of
SXSW and reached the top trending spot on the
second night, which led competitors to purchase
Twitter placement against the Nikon hashtag.
Overall, this initiative created 46 million news
media impressions and 166 million social
media impressions. People used the hashtag
#NikonWarnerSound more than 15,000 times
with positive sentiment. Nikon release 60
tweets during the event, which were re-tweeted
200 times. Over 500,000 people watched the
participant-generated content from the event
that was live streamed online, with an average
viewing time (11+ minutes) that was more than
five times greater than the industry average
(2 min). In addition, participants generated and
shared 1100 photos across social media from
on-site Nikon booths at the event.
Sprite; Polizzi
(2015); SET
Creative (2016).
Ten ets 1 ( P2) a n d
Customer network
assets, persuasion
Sprite tends to implement experiential
engagement initiatives that incorporate
multi-sensory events to generate and exact
content that contributes to the brandsmarket-
ing communication. One of these experiential
Sprite credited its BSprite Corner^experiential
engagement initiative with driving word of
mouth, producing participant-generated brand
content, and increasing brand affinity. This ini-
tiative lead to more than 908 million social
326 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2017) 45:312335
new models. After the event, when a participating customer
drives his or her own Landrover, regardless if it is to work or
to drop the kids off to school, it activates memories and emo-
tions from their participation in the experiential engagement
initiative. Thus, customer engagement initiatives can alter the
experience of the core offering by (1) strengthening existing
cognitive bonds and also (2) creating new cognitive bonds that
otherwise might not be associated with the product experi-
ence. Accordingly, we propose:
Tenet 1 : Customer engagement marketing </