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Purpose - The paper introduces the idea that consumers have relationships with their own recurring activities. Instead of the usual notion of investigating the relationships between actors, or between actors and their possessions, the paper focuses on the relationship between an actor and a particular activity in which the actor regularly participates. Design/methodology/approach - The paper is conceptual and exploratory in nature. It discusses different perspectives on consumer activity in marketing and then introduces a relationship view of activity. The paper proceeds to outline the conceptual foundations of this view by applying relationship characteristics found in the literature. Quotes from runners' blogs are used to illustrate the different identified relationship themes. Findings - The paper argues that consumers can be seen as having long-term relationships with their activities, and it introduces the concept of the " activity relationship. " The paper proceeds to demonstrate how this concept differs from the previous conceptualization of consumer activity and relationships. Research limitations/implications - The activity-relationship perspective on consumer behavior opens up new venues for marketing research. It also facilitates new types of marketing practice, whereby producers can focus on supporting their customers' relationships with valuable activities. Originality/value - The paper presents a novel perspective on relationships. It contributes to consumer research and the customer-dominant view of marketing, whereby the customer's perspective is put in focus and businesses serve as ingredients in the customer's own context.
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Karl-Jacob Mickelsson , (2017) ""Running is my boyfriend": consumers’ relationships with
activities", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 31 Iss: 1
Article title "Running is my boyfriend": consumers’ relationships with
Author Karl-Jacob Mickelsson
Affiliation Department of Marketing, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki,
Acknowledgements The author wishes to thank the Finnish Foundation for Economic
Education for funding this research. The article was completed
with funding from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.
Biography Karl-Jacob Mickelsson is a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at
the marketing department of Hanken School of Economics in
Helsinki. He is currently investigating customer activity and news
Author’s final draft copy
This is not the final layout do not refer to the page numbers in this document
"Running is my boyfriend": consumers’ relationships with activities
Karl-Jacob Mickelsson
Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland
Purpose - The paper introduces the idea that consumers have relationships with their own
recurring activities. Instead of the usual notion of investigating the relationships between
actors, or between actors and their possessions, the paper focuses on the relationship between
an actor and a particular activity in which the actor regularly participates.
Design/methodology/approach - The paper is conceptual and exploratory in nature. It
discusses different perspectives on consumer activity in marketing and then introduces a
relationship view of activity. The paper proceeds to outline the conceptual foundations of this
view by applying relationship characteristics found in the literature. Quotes from runners’ blogs
are used to illustrate the different identified relationship themes.
Findings - The paper argues that consumers can be seen as having long-term relationships with
their activities, and it introduces the concept of the “activity relationship.” The paper proceeds
to demonstrate how this concept differs from the previous conceptualization of consumer
activity and relationships.
Research limitations/implications - The activity-relationship perspective on consumer
behavior opens up new venues for marketing research. It also facilitates new types of marketing
practice, whereby producers can focus on supporting their customers’ relationships with
valuable activities.
Originality/value - The paper presents a novel perspective on relationships. It contributes to
consumer research and the customer-dominant view of marketing, whereby the customer’s
perspective is put in focus and businesses serve as ingredients in the customer’s own context.
Paper typeconceptual paper
“Running Is My Boyfriend” is the headline of a blog entry written by runner “Louise.” In her
blog, she discusses her long-term relationship with the activity of running, which she sees as
both meaningful and associated with benefits and sacrifices. The current paper develops this
notion in the context of consumer marketing and presents the idea that consumers are able to
have relationships with their own recurring activities. The paper does this by applying a
relationship marketing perspective to consumer activity, using it as a framework for
understanding how consumers relate to their own everyday consumption activities.
In relationship marketing, activities have traditionally been seen as an element that links actors
to each other (e.g., the actor–resource–activity model; see Håkansson and Snehota, 1995). In
this paper, however, activities are seen as identifiable entities with which consumers maintain
relationships. Consequently, the paper will not focus on how consumers relate to providers (or
other actors), but rather on how consumers relate to their own recurring activities. For example,
people can be considered to have more or less stable relationships with activities, such as
jogging, cooking, or showering. Researchers have not, until this point, considered activities in
this way. Earlier research has investigated consumers’ attitudes toward behaviors such as
complaining (e.g., Richins, 1982), online shopping (e.g., Shergill and Chen, 2005), and
work/leisure activities (e.g., Manrai and Manrai, 1995). However, in such cases, the consumer
attitudes have not been conceptualized in terms of relationships with activities. Rather, the
focus has usually been on how consumers relate to behaviors that are part of using a particular
product or service or how they feel about certain types of behavior in general. The current paper
differs from earlier research by explicitly applying a relationship lens to the link between
consumers and their own everyday activities. Thus, by characterizing consumer activities as
identifiable and relatable entities, this paper represents a novel perspective on consumer
behavior and marketing.
Why is it meaningful to consider consumer activity through a relationship lens? There are
several reasons. One is the ongoing emancipation of customers and consumers, which is
transforming them from mere choosers into active collaborators in the marketspace (Beckett
and Nayak, 2008; Hippold, 2001). Digitalization has put increasing emphasis on consumers
doing things for themselves: For example, instead of going into a bank, where transactions are
facilitated by a teller, consumers these days are likely to conduct transactions themselves
through apps or online interfaces. Even though a provider is involved in terms of supplying the
service interface, it is the consumer who controls the process and does all the work. Concepts
such as cocreation (e.g., Cova et al., 2011) and coproduction (e.g., Etgar, 2007) are not always
sufficient to describe this phenomenon, as they imply that the consumer works together with
the provider. Instead, consumers are often alone with their experiences, even though they might
be facilitated by a provider. In the case of wearable devicessuch as sports trackers, for
examplethe device often serves only as an enabling or enhancing element in people’s daily
and often private activities (Gilmore, 2015).
Consequently, marketing scholars have presented a view of consumers as producers, who, in
many cases, act beyond the providing companies’ control or sight (Cova and Dalli, 2009;
Heinonen et al., 2010). This view fits with the above observations about the effects of
digitalization; consumers can act independently, and the role of the provider then becomes that
of a mere facilitator of customer activity (Mickelsson, 2014). A similar argument has been
presented in the context of value creation in service research. According to Grönroos (2011),
it is ultimately the customers as users who are in charge of their own value creation and who
then have the option to invite service providers to join their process. Consequently, customer
activities have been presented as the locus of value creation (Grönroos and Voima, 2013).
According to Vargo (2008), “firm activity is best understood in terms of input for the
customer’s resource integrating, value creation activities(p. 214). This clearly shows the
relevance of taking an interest in consumer activities: Consumers can increasingly be seen as
independent actors who decide when and where to involve providers and who often maintain
complete control of the consumption or usage processthat is, control of their own activities.
Besides the traditional question regarding the ways in which consumers relate to providers, an
interesting and relevant challenge then becomes understanding how consumers relate to their
own activities.
The aim of this paper is to introduce the concept of the “activity-relationship” to marketing.
This is done by applying the relationship metaphor to the links that exist between consumers
and their own recurring activities. An “activity-relationship” refers to the individual
consumer’s relationship with a particular activity. Thus, the term “activity” is used to denote
individual behavior rather than, for example, “practice,” which also operates on the
interpersonal, social level (Reckwitz, 2002; Warde, 2005). The paper builds on earlier research
in which the relationship metaphor is applied beyond its original context of B-to-B marketing
and brought into new settings, such as consumer marketing (Sheth and Parvatiyar, 1995),
consumer brands (Fournier, 1998), service brands (Sweeney and Chew, 2002), or valued
possessions (Karanika and Hogg, 2013).
Drawing inspiration from Fournier’s (1998) extension of the relationship metaphor from people
to brands, this paper argues that activities can serve as viable relationship partners for
consumers. The paper does this, first, by comparing and contrasting the proposed activity-
relationship approach to other existing analytical frames for understanding consumer activity
namely, the stimulus–organism–response (SOR) paradigm (Jacoby, 2002), the interaction
approach (Ballantyne and Varey, 2006), practice theory (Warde, 2005), and activity theory
(Engeström, 1999). It shows that the activity-relationship approach differs from these
neighboring approaches and contributes with a new viewpoint to consumer marketing. Second,
the paper outlines the theoretical foundations of the activity-relationship approach by
discussing how the different elements of relationship marketing are applicable to consumer
activity. The paper illustrates how the elements of relationship marketing can be found in real-
life activity contexts by quoting blog entries in which runners discuss their relationships with
the activity of running. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the activity-relationship
approach opens up new opportunities for research and theory building, as well as its
implications for business and further research.
Framing of consumer activity in marketing
This section briefly discusses how consumer activity has been framed in marketing. It presents
an alternative activity-relationshipperspective on consumer activity and explains how this
perspective differs from the previous ones. Throughout the section, a gym service will be used
as an example to illustrate the difference between the presented frameworks. A gym service
retains the sports-focused theme of the examples used later in this paper but serves as a context
within which the consequences of the different perspectives on activity are clearer than in the
case of running.
Traditionally, marketing has mainly considered consumer activity in accordance with the SOR
paradigm of psychological research (see Jacoby, 2002). Within this paradigm, the organism
(customers, consumers) receives and processes stimuli (communication, servicescape,
rewards), which will produce predictable responses (emotions, attitudes, behaviors)
(Mehrabian and Russell, 1974; Lantos, 2011, p. 314). This paradigm, and its application in
different information-processing models (c.f. Macinnis and Jaworski, 1989), assigns the
consumer a somewhat passive and reactive role. The basic assumptions of the SOR paradigm
still frame the discussion in such research areas as service design (e.g., Mari and Poggesi, 2013)
and advertising (e.g., Wells, 2014). In both of these areas, consumer activity is predominantly
considered something that is to be shaped or influenced by stimuli from the provider. For
example, when marketing a gym service, the SOR paradigm would frame the problem in terms
of how to apply communication or design to influence people so that they will visit the gym,
have a positive experience, and maybe buy things while they are there.
The SOR paradigm has traditionally gone hand in hand with a transaction-focused mind-set,
whereby consumer activity is mostly considered in terms of consumer choice (Foxall, 1983;
Grönroos, 1994). Relationship marketing emerged partly as a reaction to this type of approach
and shifted the focus onto long-term buyerseller relationships (Dwyer et al., 1987; Grönroos,
1994; Möller and Halinen, 2000). Within the relationship-marketing tradition, activities are
seen as part of the interactions that happen within a relationship (Håkansson and Snehota, 1995;
Medlin, 2004). Thus, traditional relationship marketing can be seen as representing an
interaction approach to consumer activity (Ballantyne and Varey, 2006). Activities have also
been seen as companies’ internal events but, in that case, in terms of how business actors
coordinate their activities so that they fit with those of other actors (Hallén et al., 1991).
Although relationship marketing emerged in a B-to-B research setting, it was later also applied
to consumer marketing (Sheth and Parvatiyar, 1995; O’Malley and Tynan, 1999). Moreover,
researchers found that consumers not only form relationships with persons but can also
maintain relationships with brands (Fournier, 1998; Sweeney and Chew, 2002). Thus, in the
example of a gym, the marketing problem would be framed in terms of trying to cultivate
profitable long-term relationships between the gym personnel (or gym brand) and its customers
by means of facilitating successful interactions.
The concept of cocreation can be seen as a further development of this idea—that is, that
customers and providers can cocreate the value that is produced within (and beyond)
interactions (McColl-Kennedy et al., 2012). Even though the consumer’s value creation may
sometimes happen beyond interactions (as in the case of consumer engagement behavior
[Doorn et al., 2010], for example), the analytical focus is still on how actors collaborate on
facilitating the emergence of value. Thus, cocreation can still be seen as being in line with the
relationship tradition.
Subsequently, consumer activity has more recently been studied using the lens of practice
theory (e.g., Warde, 2005; Halkier and Jensen, 2011). Practice theory has been used to gain
rich understandings of consumption as a socially informed phenomenon (e.g., Martens and
Scott, 2005; Valtonen et al.; 2010, Arsel and Bean, 2013). The concept of activity plays a core
role in practice theory and has been characterized as the outcome of performed practice
(Halkier 2010). Warde (2005) states that a social practice constitutes a nexus of practical
activity (i.e., doings and sayings) that is coordinated by understandings, procedures, and
engagements. These exist largely as shared knowledge on a social level (c.f. Turner, 2007).
When an individual puts them into use in a particular situation, they are realized as activities.
Halkier (2010) refers to this as “performing practices.” Thus, there is a distinction between the
concepts of activity” and “practice.” Activities constitute a narrower concept, which is
focused on individual performance as it happens in a particular situation. Practices, however,
also operate on a more general level and include not only different modes of behavior but also
the understandings and socially shared meanings that underlie them. Framed by practice theory,
the gym example could then be understood in terms of people’s routines and the social
meanings informing these routines: For example, what types of discourses or cultural scripts
are expressed through the workout behaviors of customers (e.g., Canniford and Shankar,
Another emergent perspective on activities is offered by activity theory (Leontyev, 1978;
Engeström, 1999). Activity theory has been applied in service research to conceptualize the
use of services (Mickelsson, 2013, 2014). In its current form, it was introduced by psychologist
A.A. Leontyev and further developed by Yrjö Engeström (Leontyev, 1978; Engeström, 1999).
Activity theory views activity in terms of work; it characterizes the concept of activityas a
subject’s purposeful interaction with an object (Kaptelinin and Nardi, 2006). Thus, activities
are performed by people with the intention of producing effects over time either on the object
of activity (e.g., a house that gets painted) or on the subject (i.e., the person) performing the
activity (Leontyev, 1978; Kaptelinin and Nardi, 2006). The main focus of current activity
theory is on understanding “activity systems,” whereby people interact with tools in a social
environment to produce outcomes (Engeström, 1999). This means that activity theory is well
suited for analyzing people’s interactions with technological systems (Kaptelinin and Nardi,
2006). Activity theory’s interpretation of the gym problem would then be to see the gym as a
system of people, tools, and activities. Consumers can engage with this system in order to bring
about physical and mental changes in themselves. The challenge for the provider then becomes
to organize this system in an efficient way.
The current paper proposes a further analytical frame for understanding consumer activity,
called the activity-relationship” approach. Under the activity-relationship approach, the
analytical focus is on the individual’s own life processes seen from a personal point of view.
Activities are here seen as recurring events in people’s lives. This allows people to develop
long-term relationships with the activities. Table 1 shows how the activity-relationship
approach differs from the previously described four approaches in terms of how it frames
activity, conceptualizes behavior, and the type of marketing problem it results in when applied
to a marketing context. In the previously described approaches, human behavior is thought of
in terms of responses, interactions, social practices, or goal-directed activities. The activity-
relationship approach does not exclude these types of understandings but sees them as
influencing factors in how a particular person relates to a certain activity. How does a particular
person feel about the activity, and how often is it repeated? Thus, the activity-relationship
approach focuses on people’s personal relationships with activities. The corresponding
marketing problem will then concern how to help people cultivate their relationships with
desired activities. In the case of a gym, this would mean that the gym helps customers develop
their own long-term relationships with different types of training activity (e.g., participation in
spinning classes) in such a way that it leads to outcomes that the customer desires.
(Insert table 1 about here)
A particular activity can be investigated from the point of view of any of the five approaches
(Table 1), but the selected approach will frame the activity and give it meaning accordingly.
The first four approaches do not focus on people’s relationships with activities as such, but
rather on how the activity serves as a medium for reacting, relating, expressing, or performing
in various contexts. In the activity-relationship approach, however, the focus is specifically on
how consumers themselves see and relate to the activity. This reframes the role of marketing
to focus on supporting consumers’ long-term activity relationships. The next part will consider
the conceptual foundations of this perspective.
Conceptual foundations of the activity-relationship view
This section discusses the conceptual foundations of the proposed activity-relationship view.
It considers how relationship marketing has been conceptualized by previous research and
whether existing relationship conceptualizations are applicable to the link between consumers
and their recurring activities. The section first identifies which elements are central to
relationship marketing and then discusses how the identified elements apply to consumer
activities. To show how the themes can be found in practical consumer contexts, each presented
element is exemplified by a set of quotes from runners’ blogs. In the quotes, runners discuss
their relationships with the activity of running. Runners were selected because they can be
expected to be able to articulate their relationship with this particular activity. The blog entries
were found through an online search and are presented anonymously with changed names.
Thus, consent should not be required (Kozinets, 2002). Blog entries as research material have
been argued to provide candid and easily accessible insights into people’s everyday lives,
allowing people to share their personalities, passions, and points of view (Nardi et al., 2004;
Hookway, 2008). However, blog entries must be treated with some caution, as people may
want to present an idealized image of themselves (Hookway, 2008). The quoted blogs tended
to be candid, however, often openly discussing the hardships of life and running.
In line with Mickelsson (2013), “consumer activities” are here defined as recurring, discrete
sequences of behavior that are driven by a set of conscious and unconscious motives and that
aim at a set of outcomes. This definition is consistent with Schatzki (2010, p. 111), who
characterizes activities as aimed at achieving a particular outcome (i.e., they are done “in order
to”) and as being framed by a set of existing conditions (done “because of”). This definition
allows us to consider activities as identifiable objects. Research has also shown that people are
able to identify their activities (Vallacher and Wegner, 1987) and may, thus, be able to maintain
relationships with them.
To outline the core conceptual elements of relationship marketing, the paper applies Harker’s
(1999) review of relationship marketing definitions and Fournier’s (1998) four foundations of
brand relationships. Harker’s (1999) review collects 26 popular definitions and analyzes them
for central conceptual meanings. He identifies seven main abstractions that are consistently
present in definitions of relationship marketing: “interaction, “output,” “long term,
“creation,“development,“maintenance,” and “emotional content.” These abstractions can
be categorized according to the questions asked under Fournier’s (1998) four more general
relationship themes: 1) whether the object can serve as a valid relationship partner, 2) whether
the relationship with the object can be discussed in terms of temporality and dynamism, 3)
whether said relationship functions as a source of meaning for the consumer, and, finally, 4)
whether this type of relationship can be seen as a multiplex phenomenon. The next section
follows Fournier’s (1998) thematic outline for relationships and includes Harker’s (1999)
abstractions under the appropriate theme. The purpose of the section is to consider whether the
themes are applicable to consumers’ relationships with their activities.
The activity as a relationship partner
The first of Harker’s (1999) abstractions“interaction”is arguably the central abstraction in
relationship marketing (Grönroos, 1994; Ballantyne and Varey, 2006). It refers to the mutuality
of relationship partners—that is, that both parties are active and contribute to the relationship.
Fournier (1998) calls this “reciprocity.” The problem of whether the consumer can have
interaction and reciprocity with activities will be discussed next. The current section will also
discuss Harker’s second abstraction—“output”—which can be seen as another term for
understanding what relationship partners gain from a relationship. “Output” is, thus, intimately
connected to the idea of reciprocity.
Is it, then, possible to consider an activity a “partner” or something animate or humanized in
the way in which Fournier (1998) considers brands? The psychological literature mainly
understands activities as the expression of internal states, and, thus, activity and action tend to
be seen as the results of motivation or goals (e.g., Kopetz et al., 2012). This means that
activities are generally seen as inputs or consequences rather than objects in themselves.
However, researchers have shown that people can generate and maintain attitudes toward
activities (Eyal et al., 2004). For example, researchers have studied people’s attitudes toward
physical activities (Simon and Smoll, 1974), rehabilitation activities (Fisher and Hoisington,
1993), and reading (Askov and Fischbach, 1973). Writers in leisure research have suggested
the term activity attachment” to denote the functional, symbolic, and emotional importance of
a particular leisure activity for consumers (Alexandris et al., 2011).
However, even though this indicates that consumers are able to relate to activities, it is not
sufficient to support the “personhood” claim. Fournier (1998) draws on theories of animism
and anthropomorphization to argue that people are able to assign selective human properties to
all manner of objects. The same may be applicable in the case of activities: The personification
of abstract concepts has a long history in human thought (Paxson, 1994). For example, early
Greek writers gave human forms to basic human phenomena such as war, sleep, prayer, or
rumor (Webster, 1954). Contemporary consumers may be capable of similar types of
personification. Indeed, runners’ blogs provide many examples of personification. One blog
entry, titled “Running Is My Boyfriend,” provides an especially revealing example of this
particular blogger’s comfort with the relationship metaphor. In this entry, blogger “Louise
compares her injury-induced hiatus from running to breaking up with a long-term boyfriend:
After spending 8 months, the longest duration of time off from running in over a decade, I
have come to realize that my relationship with running is much like a teenage love affair.She
discusses her feelings about not being able to run in terms of rejection and even jealousy:
[. . .] every time you see someone else who is enjoying the sport, it feels like your love is
cheating on you. I probably didn’t appreciate “him” as much as I should have when I had
him. I took him for granted and now it’s too late—he has rejected me. The long,
comfortable relationship I had with “him” over the past decade became too complacent
and he moved on to someone else.
However, Fournier (1998) claims that personhood is not enough to make a valid relationship
partner. One of marketing’s most basic assumptions about relationships is that they involve
reciprocity and mutually oriented interaction between the parties (e.g., Håkansson and Snehota,
1995; Harker, 1999). Thus, the parties must be involved in some type of mutual exchange or
cooperation. Strictly speaking, people cannot be said to “interact” with activities. Rather,
activities and actions have traditionally been seen as the medium for subjects to interact with
objects (Kaptelinin and Nardi, 2006) or for subjects to reach their objectives (Harré, 1982).
However, theories of a “dialogical self(Hermans et al., 1992) postulate that the self is not
unified but can occupy many different positions, which can be engaged in dialogical relations
with each other. Thus, from the consumer’s own subjective point of view, the idea of interacting
with your own activities may very well be viable. Activities such as substance abuse, for
example, are often discussed in terms of costs and rewards for the subject (c.f. West and Brown,
2013). In his autobiography, writer Jack London personifies his drinking problem as “John
Barleycornand talks about how John “tricks and lures” and “must have his due” (London,
1913, p. 5). Thus, it is feasible that consumers can have some kind of give-and-take relationship
with a particular activity. If this is the case, consumers can be said to experience mutuality. For
example, blogger “Michelle” writes about her complicated relationship with running due to the
physical discomfort it brings. Despite this, the rewards make her want to return to the activity:
“In many ways I hate doing it, it can be uncomfortable, and sore. It can be pretty boring too.
However it keeps calling me back.” Blogger “Ruth” displays similar sentiments and elaborates
on them somewhat:
I won’t lie to you: sometimes running hurts and sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I believe
we aren’t good for each other. [. . .] Runner’s high is also a real thing and I often find
myself craving it. The endorphins you feel when you are attracted to someone, it’s pretty
comparable. I can’t say I’m addicted to running, or that I love it, but I can vouch for how
it makes me feel.
These quotes exemplify situations where consumers seem to be experiencing some kind of
mutuality and interaction with the activity. This mutuality is completely subjective, however,
as activities cannot be seen as having agency or “will” as such. The quote by “Ruth” also relates
to the second of Harker’s (1999) abstractions: “output.Output refers to the outcomes of a
relationships, in terms of, for example, profitability. The quote illustrates how the activity of
running is associated with both benefits and sacrifices and that the consumer seems to consider
the activity in such terms. Indeed, traditional conceptualizations of action and activity have
characterized them in terms of aiming at some type of outcome (Moya, 1990). Thus, the theme
of “output” also seems applicable to activities.
Temporality and dynamism
The next four of Harker’s (1999) abstractions (“long term,” “creation,” “development,” and
“maintenance”) all relate to the ideas of time and change in relationships. They can, thus, be
summarized as describing temporality and dynamism, the second of Fournier’s (1998)
relationship themes. This section will discuss whether these concepts are applicable to activity
A central attribute of relationship marketing is that it looks beyond individual transactions and
instead focuses on long-term relationships (Grönroos, 1994). Fournier (1998) calls this
temporality. In relationship marketing, relationships are usually seen as a process with a
beginning, middle, and end (Harker, 1999). Similarly, consumers’ relationships with activities
are likely to go through equivalent stages. For example, researchers have looked at how and
why people start smoking (Lucas and Lloyd, 1999) and their experiences of quitting (Ershler
et al., 1989). This represents a temporal view of activities and indicates that a similar approach
can be viable in a marketing context. As an example of the temporality of consumers’
relationships with activities, Blogger “Linda” discusses how her relationship started in early
It was a chilly day and the rain pelted down with force, while stampedes of runners
gathered eagerly at the start. There I was, ready to take off right along with the rest of
them, bundled up in the stroller, and shielded by my clip-on umbrella that stood firmly in
place to ward off the rain drops. “Faster mommy faster,” I yelled as she pushed me along
in front of her.
She discusses how she later did not share her parents’ enthusiasm for running. She disliked it
for physicaland maybe also emotional—reasons: “I would never be like my parents. I didn’t
want to love it like that,” she writes. However, after a tonsil operation, breathing became easier.
Her physical outlook changed, and she started training for a marathon. Crossing the finish line
at the marathon, she started to understand how her parents felt: “For the first time I could see
how someone could love running. For the first time, I loved running.” As indicated by the
example, it should be possible for researchers to capture deep and detailed histories of peoples
relationships with their own activities and how they begin, develop, and ultimately end.
This also reflects another important aspect of the temporal dimension of relationships, which
is their dynamism. In relationship marketing, the marketing process is usually conceptualized
as a series of interactions (Ballantyne and Varey, 2006; Holmlund, 2004). Each interaction
between a consumer and a particular provider results in a customer experience and contributes
to what the consumer thinks about the provider (Payne et al., 2009; Meyer and Schwager,
2007). Similarly, it is possible to consider consumers’ relationships to activities as a sequence
of events: Each time a consumer engages in a particular activity, his or her impression of the
activity changes. This constitutes a dynamic view of the relationship. Indeed, health and
medical research has often applied a dynamic, long-term view to tracking changes in people’s
physical activities over time (e.g., Sallis et al., 1999; Marcus et al., 2000). Thus, it should be
possible to find different types of relationship development trajectories, as described by
Fournier (1998), for activity relationships as well. Moreover, the concept of critical incidents
might help shed light on dynamism in this context (Butterfield et al., 2005; Edvardsson and
Roos, 2001). A particularly good or bad experience with an activity might lead to changes in
the consumer’s activity relationship. For example, blogger “Ruby” writes about how success
in a race served as a formative event in her relationship with running:
Last year I competed in my first Race for Life, a run to raise money to help fight cancer.
It isn’t necessarily a competitive run; however I managed to come within the top ten
runners, out of thousands of women and girls. Since then, my love for the sport has
increased and this has meant that I have been able to run further and faster than ever
Thus, it should be possible to discover typical critical events that have an impact on a person’s
relationship with a particular activity. Both temporality and dynamism seem to be innate
characteristics of people’s relationships with activities.
Emotional content and meaning provision
The final of Harker’s (1999) seven abstractions—“emotional content”—refers to the
interpersonal emotions that arise within relationships. Events that happen within a relationship
result in different types of emotions, which then impact the further development of the
relationship. This relates to Fournier’s (1998) theme of “meaning provision,” whereby
relationships provide meaning in the parties’ lives. Emotional content can be seen as an
indicator of meaning for consumers and is, thus, discussed in this subsection.
Can activity relationships be said to have emotional content? Marketing traditionally operates
in the spirit of the SOR paradigm, which means that the literature has tended to consider
consumer activity as a consequence of emotional states (Hirschman and Stern, 1999). Thus,
emotions are seen as causing future activity instead of vice versa. However, within the
relationship-marketing domain, emotions constitute part of the content of relationships
(Harker, 1999): The emotions are a part of how the parties relate to each other (Butler, 2011),
as well as the result of experiences within interactions (Payne et al., 2009). If we apply this
conception of emotion to the activity-relationship view, it means that activities can be seen as
the objects or sources of emotion (e.g., “I love swimming; it felt really good yesterday”) rather
than simply the result of emotions (e.g., “I feel good; let’s go swimming”). Thus, for example,
the concept of commitment is applicable to activity relationships. Blogger “Linda” provides an
example of emotions emerging during an activity and how this has influenced her relationship
with running:
March of last year I completed the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans. I teared
up at the start. I teared up while running. I teared up crossing the finish line. I never
imagined I would grow to become so emotionally involved with and committed to
running. But there I was. And here I am.
Besides just emotions, Fournier (1998) argues that relationships also add structure or meaning
to people’s lives. Thus, meaning provision can be seen as another requirement for relationships.
The different types of meanings provided by activities are well documented. For example,
research in the consumer culture theory tradition has focused on how consumer activities
“foster collective identifications grounded in shared beliefs, meanings, mythologies, rituals,
social practices, and status systems” (Arnould and Thompson, 2005, p. 874). Various studies
have researched the symbolic meanings of activities such as skydiving (Celci et al., 1993),
Christmas rituals (Tynan and McKechnie, 2009), and taking selfies (Iqani and Schroeder,
2015). As an example of meaning provision, blogger “Emily” writes about how running has
impacted her self-image and body relationship:
[. . .] what running has given to me is a true respect of my body that I did not have
before! I am by no means saying that every time I look in the mirror I love what I see,
but I now respect what I see, because I know the amount of miles and sun salutations it
has taken to get my body as strong as it is today.
In contrast, blogger “Lisa” discusses how running for her was mostly motivated by external
factors:I always enjoyed running [;] however the motivation to run and compete was originaly
[sic] linked to a negative self belief, needing to meet the expectations of myself and those
around me.” This exemplifies how people’s relationships with activities can be intertwined
with emotions and meaning.
Multiplicity in relationships
Finally, Fournier (1998) identifies an important theme that was not covered by Harker (1999)
namely, “multiplicity.” This refers to the idea that relationships come in many different shapes.
Fournier argues that relationships are multiplex phenomena—that is, that they can have many
different forms and functions. In her paper, she found that brand relationships could be
classified into various forms, such as “arranged marriages,” “courtships,” “flings,” and
“enslavements” (p. 362). Presumably, people’s relationships with activities could be classified
in a similar way. This entails that consumers can apply the relationship metaphor in a deep and
meaningful way and come up with different interpretations and labels for their activity
relationships. As an example, blogger “Lisa” talks about her “full blown, obsessive
relationship” with running. She goes on to write:
It is also a unique relationship. My bond towards running will be different to everyone
else’s. We each take what we require and/or value out of the experience in our own
individual way.
Another example shows how one particular activity relationship can have multiple meanings
for one person. Blogger Jessewrites about how the character of his relationship with running
varies from one day to the next: On a good day, it is like a “full blown steamy love affair”; on
other days, like a “25-year marriage,” or “having a brother,” sometimes a “mentor/mentee,” or
simply a “best friend.” Thus, it should be possible to find many different types of categories
for people’s activity relationships.
In summary, this section considered the conceptual foundations of consumers’ relationships
with their activities and concluded that the relationship metaphor is applicable to consumer
activities. The next section will present some conclusions and consider the implications of the
activity-relationship view for marketing theory and practice.
Conclusions and implications
In marketing, consumer activities have previously been seen as a medium for responding,
relating, performing, or interacting. However, the consumer’s activities themselves have not
been seen as relatable objects. Rather, relationship marketing has seen activities as part of
relationships—for example, as in the actor–resource–activity model (Håkansson and Snehota,
1995). The main contribution of this paper was to apply a relationship perspective to consumer
activities. The paper introduced the idea of consumers having relationships with their own
activities, which resulted in the “activity-relationship” perspective on marketing. Instead of
focusing on how consumers relate to other actors (or objects), the analytical focus is on
understanding how they relate to their own activities. The paper compared the activity-
relationship approach with other existing approaches to understanding consumer activity in
marketing (i.e., the SOR approach, the interaction approach, practice theory, and activity
theory) and found that the previously existing approaches do not focus on the consumers
relationships with their own activities. Even though practice theory and activity theory
expressly include people’s activities and the meaning structures that accompany them, their
analytical focus is elsewhere. Consequently, the activity-relationship approach is unique and
complements established perspectives on consumer activity.
The paper builds on earlier research that applies the relationship metaphor in new contexts,
such as consumer markets (Sheth and Parvatiyar, 1995), brand relationships (Fournier, 1998),
and valued possessions (Karanika and Hogg, 2013), but takes a fundamentally different
approach. Instead of simply extending the relationship metaphor to a new type of object, the
paper challenges the established view of what, in fact, constitutes relatable objects. Previously,
relationship partners have been seen as external entities with tangible features (i.e., a person,
brand, or physical object). An activity, however, is not external as such but can be considered
a part of the consumer him- or herself. Drawing upon literature on multiple selves and the
personification of activities, the paper argued for the idea of an activity as a relatable object in
its own right. Moreover, the paper showed how the basic abstractions of relationship marketing
are applicable to consumers’ relationships with activities. The quotes from bloggers used in the
text served as examples of consumers spontaneously expressing the identified themes, giving
credibility to the idea of activities as relatable entities.
Thus, the activity-relationship concept contributes with a new perspective on consumption and
marketing. In addition to studying actor-to-actor (or actor-to-object) relationships, marketers
can now also start researching actor-to-activity relationships. This reapplication of the
relationship metaphor introduces an additional role for marketing: To support and help
consumers in cultivating desired activity relationships. This involves keeping track of relevant
activity relationships among customers, understanding their history and development, and
creating strategies for supporting the development of desired or valuable activity relationships
or their termination. The role of a given business offering then becomes to serve as an enabling
or supporting element in the consumer’s recurring activities.
However, it is worth noting that people do not always necessarily reflect very deeply on their
own activities. Studies have suggested that about 45% of our daily behavior is directed by habit
(Neal et al., 2006). Moreover, habits tend to guide behavior more strongly than expressed
intentions (Ji and Wood, 2007). This means that even in cases in which consumers are able to
reflect on their own activities, they might not necessarily be able to change them. Moreover,
the quotes that were used in this paper to illustrate the different relationship themes were taken
from highly involved runners, who may be much better at articulating how they relate to the
activity than a less engaged consumer would. Thus, it remains to be seen whether there are
differences in how well the relationship metaphor applies to activities among different
consumer groups.
Future research could apply and develop the activity-relationship idea through dedicated
empirical studies. Such studies could focus on characterizing different types of relationships
with activities: Researchers could actively look for, for example, “arranged marriages,”
“rebounds,” or “childhood friendships” (in the mold of Fournier [1998]). Future research could
also uncover generic development trajectories for peoples activity relationships. In-depth
insight into such categories and trajectories could lead to suggestions of different types of
business strategies, depending on what type of activity a company wishes to support.
For businesses, consumer activity relationships provide a new framework for working with
customer behavior. By keeping track of relevant consumer activities and understanding the
consumer’s relationships with these activitiesat different levels of interest or at different
stages of lifecompanies can work toward supporting customer value in a structured way.
Researchers have suggested that value for the customer emerges in the customers own
activities (Normann 2001; Grönroos 2008). Why not make a structured effort to analyze
different customer groups’ relationships to core (and related) consumption activities in order
to be able to develop them further? The approach suggested in this paper may be employed to
shed light on diverse phenomena such as resource integration and cocreation (Ple, 2016),
customer engagement behavior (Brodie et al., 2011), or the gamification of services (Harwood
and Garry, 2015). What types of everyday activities do the phenomena consist of, and how do
the consumers relate to them? Can the company facilitate the development of these activities
and support positive attitudes toward them? The approach enables us to analyze businesses’
efforts in these domains with a new purpose in mind: Instead of focusing on what a service (or
product) does, and how the consumer uses (or contributes to) the service, marketers can instead
focus on the consumers’ relationships to their own activities and how to support and develop
them so that the consumer can attain valuable experiences and outcomes over time. This is in
line with the “customer-dominant logic” of service (Heinonen et al., 2010; Heinonen and
Strandvik, 2015), whereby companies’ offerings are considered from the point of view of the
customer’s own context. By focusing on how customers relate to their own activities, the
provider is given a secondary position in the analysis. This leads to a truly consumer- or
customer-centric view.
To conclude, the idea of considering consumers as having relationships with activities proved
surprisingly fruitful and can hopefully inspire more research on the subject.
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Table 1: Approaches to activity in marketing
to activity
Examples of
Jacoby, 2002;
Lantos, 2011
and Snehota,
1995; Medlin,
Warde, 2005;
Halkier and
Jensen, 2011
and Nardi,
Current paper
framed by
Shared social
of work
life processes
lized as
Response to
Interaction in
Practices in
aimed at
activities that
people relate
How can we
How can we
How can we
as a social
How can we
systems of
How can we
help people
cultivate their
... Studies have focused on different aspects of physical activity or sports, such as determining the reasons that lead to physical or sporting exercise, determining mechanisms for sports adherence, analysing sports disciplines or studying personality traits, age, gender, culture, etc. in these contexts (Beville et al., 2014;González-Serrano et al., 2017;Haro-González et al., 2018;Molanorouzi et al., 2014;Song and Park, 2015;Roychowdhury, 2018;Summers et al., 2018). Studies on the intention of sports practice and physical activity have been conducted in the field of sports psychology and in relation to health; there are few studies from the perspective of the marketing of sports services (Mickelsson, 2017;Rodrigues et al., 2020;Sánchez-Torres et al., 2020). ...
... Similarly, this study did not find that the social environment affected individual attitudes towards sports nor was affiliation significant. This suggests that activities by sports service providers should be offered individually, which is implicit in the new forms of consumption as co-creation (Mickelsson, 2017). ...
This is a cross-sectional, empirical study set in Spain and Colombia to examine the main motivations and attitudes towards physical and sports activity in different population groups. An empirical model is proposed which integrates two existing models that explain the behaviour of physical exercise and sports practice: the physical activity and leisure motivation scale (PALMS), and the theory of planned behaviour (TPB). The results show neither significant differences between the two countries nor any differences in other categories, such as gender or age group. The motivation to take part in sports is seen as an improvement in physical condition and mental state and as a desire for mastery in sports practice. This is one of the most complete studies carried out in two countries at the same time to examine the process of consumer behaviour regarding sports services. Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Sánchez-Torres, J.A., Arroyo-Cañada, F-J., Argila-Irurita, A.M. and Rivera, J. (xxxx) 'Sports services: motivations and attitudes in the practise of physical activity and sports in Spain and Colombia', Int.
... Yet, perceived value is generally considered in relation to a product (Zeithaml, 1988) or service use (e.g. Gummerus and Pihlstr€ om, 2011) rather than in relation to activities, although some studies argue that the perceived value of activities is associated with the intention of carrying out an activity (Harland et al., 1999;Mickelsson, 2017). Building on this argument, we propose that perceived value can be linked to human activities. ...
... career development, as shown in the present study), a person's area of interest (e.g. sports, as discussed by Mickelsson, 2017) or life theme (e.g. leading a good life). ...
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Purpose This paper aims to develop and apply a service design method that allows for stronger recognition and integration of human activities into the front-end stages of the service design process. Design/methodology/approach Following a discussion of different service design perspectives and activity theory, the paper develops a method called activity-set mapping (ActS). ActS is applied to an exploratory service design project to demonstrate its use. Findings Three broad perspectives on service design are suggested: (1) the dyadic interaction, (2) the systemic interaction and (3) the customer activity perspectives. The ActS method draws on the latter perspective and focuses on the study of human activity sets. The application of ActS shows that the method can help identify and visualize sets of activities. Research limitations/implications The ActS method opens new avenues for service design by zooming in on the micro level and capturing the set of activities linked to a desired goal achievement. However, the method is limited to activities reported by research participants and may exclude unconscious activities. Further research is needed to validate and refine the method. Practical implications The ActS method will help service designers explore activities in which humans engage to achieve a desired goal/end state. Originality/value The concept of “human activity set” is new to service research and opens analytical opportunities for service design. The ActS method contributes a visualization tool for identifying activity sets and uncovering the benefits, sacrifices and frequency of activities.
... This pragmatic and systematic philosophy for studying human behavior led AT to gain credence within human-computer interaction, where theories of cognition proliferated and once dominated the field (Nardi, 1996). AT became known as a powerful antidote to traditional, cognitive psychological theories within human-computer interaction (HCI), which traditionally favored laboratory experiments and often divorced technologies from their use contexts (Kuutti, 1995;Mickelsson, 2017;Kaptelinin and Nardi, 2018). As a result, AT provides a middle-ground framework that straddles theory and practice in order to help HCI researchers critically but pragmatically examine the ways end-users interact with the world through technologies (Kaptelinin and Nardi, 2012). ...
... In other words, the marketing literature emphasizes customers' thought processes over their actions in context, especially when it comes to measurement of customer experiences (Lemon and Verhoef, 2016;Verhoef, 2021). Our work follows more closely in the footsteps of a cadre of empirical studies that have adopted the AT framework to analyze customer experiences (i.e., Teixeira et al., 2012;Carlson et al., 2016;Mickelsson, 2017;Hsia et al., 2020). This latter research prioritizes the mediational role of tools or technologies between activities and broader domains of the human experience that transform how we communicate, learn, work, travel, shop, and play. ...
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We draw insights from Activity Theory within the field of human-computer interaction to quantitatively measure a mobile in-store experience (MIX), which includes the suite of shopping activities and retail services that a consumer can engage in when using their mobile device in brick-and-mortar stores. We developed and validated a nine-item, formative MIX index using survey data collected from fashion consumers in the United States ( n = 1,267), United Kingdom ( n = 370), Germany ( n = 362), and France ( n = 219). As survey measures of consumer engagement in omnichannel retailing using a mobile device, the index items with stronger factor loadings described in-store shopping activities whereas those with weaker factor loadings described activities related to behavioral targeting and social networking. These results suggest that retailers should give consumers the autonomy to independently find, evaluate and purchase merchandise in brick-and-mortar stores, thereby enabling them to co-create personalized shopping experiences as active participants within an omnichannel retail servicescape. Our findings also suggest that retailers should provide consumers with more authentic ways to build community and brand affiliations than mobile marketing and social media promotions. In-store activities should not simply be a migration of pre-existing e-commerce capabilities onto mobile devices. An engaging mobile in-store experience should be an amalgam of physical and digital activities that produce a seamless shopping journey and leverage the unique properties of mobile devices – ultra-portability, location sensitivity, untetheredness, and personalization. Retail executives can use the validated MIX index to prepare strategic investments in mobile technology applications and capabilities for retail stores within their omnichannel operations. The nine-item MIX index is also well-suited for consumer surveys, which also makes it an attractive measure of consumer engagement in omnichannel retailing for future academic research.
... El estudio del comportamiento del consumidor se ha asociado con diferentes teorías y aportes científicos como los de Sha, May y Londerville (2007) o Ajzen y Fishbein (1980) así como Rodríguez y Rabadán (2015), quienes entre analizar actitudes, conductas, factores psicológicos, personales, sociales y de mercado, profundizan en la forma en la cual se puede construir un proceso encaminado a la investigación para la implementación de estrategias fundamentadas en métodos capaces de ser aplicados en diferentes contextos de comunidades de consumo similares. Paris (2015), Mickelsson (2017) y González (2016) aseguran que los elementos gráficos y formales son determinantes al momento de permear y tomar la decisión de compra, siendo en este punto donde se interrelaciona el marketing con la semiótica al momento de diseñar mensajes dirigidos hacia cambios de conducta entre individuos con ciertas semejanzas y entornos afines. En esta ocasión, el estudio apunta hacia los universitarios mexicanos de instituciones públicas en México. ...
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Los diversos esfuerzos por detener el daño ambiental en el mundo deben ir más allá de hacer conciencia y enfocarse a desarrollar contenido comunicativo que genere acciones y cambios conductuales de los individuos. En este trabajo la comunidad conformada por universitarios fue utilizada para identificar categorías de análisis cualitativas aplicables en el desarrollo de estrategias que impulsen acciones que favorezcan el consumo sustentable. El objetivo fue definir el tipo de estrategias que pudieran significar empatía y por ende, efectividad para el envío de mensajes que conlleven el actuar a favor del medio ambiente. Se recurrió a la fenomenología, al pragmatismo, al interaccionismo simbólico y al marketing semiótico utilizando como base metodológica entrevistas en profundidad realizadas a sujetos en etapa universitaria. Los diferentes códigos que emanaron para dar lugar a los contenidos efectivos en vías de acciones sustentables, fueron conciencia, conductas, interacciones sociales, impacto, persuasión, selectividad, satisfacción de necesidades y convivencia. Con base en ello se propuso desarrollar historias que narraran mensajes a través de diferentes piezas de storytelling como una opción viable ante el tipo de contenido comunicativo empático con la comunidad de consumo elegida, y la urgencia de respuesta que se requiere por parte de los individuos. Se concluyó que las técnicas de alto impacto logran persuadir al público receptor hacia tomar elecciones de acción a favor de satisfacer sus necesidades sin poner en riesgo la integridad de terceros ni futuras generaciones.
... Previous scholars have stated the relationship of three (3) components, interacting with each other as presented in Table 3. Table 3 summarizes the Activity Theory elements being composed of three (3) interrelated parameters, closely interact with one another, changes to some of the elements will necessitate changes to the others to usher their aspiration and venture back into alignment. Activity theory is in a state of constant change because they are in constant planning to source for venture plans [25]. A software application used in IS in RI may possess tools like decision-making features that assist individual actions. ...
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An enterprise framework based on the philosophy research approach to Information System (IS) features a holistic view in an industry that allows room for technological advancement, an industry with increasing expectations and demands for IS drives towards a more integrated framework and rethinking of the concept of delivering insightful outcomes. The specific features of IS in this study focus on the information criteria for the daily assignment of the railway industry operations through an industry enterprise framework. The study objective is to provide a comprehensive understanding of emerging knowledge from structuring IS and enterprise framework stages and their mashup characteristics in designing a model-driven development framework. The outcome will be a design of a strategic performance framework for a typical strategic performance application as the most vital outcome indicators, to focus on understanding the baseline of technology revolution (Industry Revolution 5.0) achievement to measure the transformation expected and the railway industry evaluation, based on the year-on-year target will be established. The usage of decision-making systems and strategic applications has increased massively to fulfill various kinds of purposes for organizations, businesses, and individuals. In this case, a high-quality decision-making system and strategic application are required to ensure it provides the intended functionalities.
... The definition of delayed data collection is the time period during which the data packets generated by the source node of X-1 are transmitted to the sink node. The optimization purpose of this problem is to be able to find the node transmission path that minimizes the data collection delay [18]. EED(Ha) represents the final delay of one or more hops for the source node Ha to transmit its perceived data to the aggregation node, so that the expression of the optimized objective function is ...
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Due to the popularity and rapid development of the Internet, it has profoundly affected people’s way of life, covering all aspects of people’s lives, and the communication methods and marketing concepts of all walks of life have also undergone great changes due to its influence. Internet technology simplifies and compresses the marketing process, making consumers sovereign, and the monopoly of traditional media is difficult to reproduce on the Internet. The development of the times has also affected people’s pursuit of “beauty,” and their willingness to consume for design has gradually increased. Based on this, this paper proposes a design method that integrates the marketing concept based on the product design concept and the art design. The Internet of Things is based on the development of the Internet, expands on the basis of the Internet, and extends to people’s daily life with physical devices. It is widely welcomed by various research fields at present. This paper studies the changes brought by the Internet, the integration and innovation of art design and marketing concepts in the Internet age, and the development advantages and changes of traditional product design in information dissemination. Based on this, this paper proposes a user-centered, user-participated design. The experimental results show that the user-participative design method based on the integration of marketing concepts and artistic design and the innovation of functions can be effectively improved by paying attention to user feedback, which can bring good user experience effects. The conversion rate of visits on each platform is above 40%, and it also has a “communication medium” with its own traffic, which can even become a “spiritual sustenance” for direction.
... For instance, Lily mentions how her masochistic qualities are released through 'torturing herself with sports' (T4). The pain experienced in sports is sometimes akin to pain experienced in sadomasochism, as it may be done for a greater reward and thus 'worth it' (Newmahr 2011, 141-142; see also Mickelsson 2017). In this manner, kink penetrates everyday life even without a 24/7 total power exchange relationship. ...
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In this article, we discuss the relationship of kink and everyday life and ask how kinky-identified individuals negotiate the relationship between kinkiness and everyday life in a society that stigmatises kink. We address kink as an everyday life experience through discussing authenticity, total power exchange, serious leisure, and escapism. We do not discuss merely kinky acts, such as BDSM play, but are also interested in the more mundane and implicit aspects of kink: those moments where nothing overtly kinky occurs. Our research material consists of 28 autobiographical writings by Finnish kinky-identified individuals. The writings depict various understandings of the ways everyday life and kink are intertwined such as experiencing kink as an authentic way of living, or as a deeper connection to one's partner. Kink envelopes everyday life experiences and offers escape from the mundane. The kink community provides social connections, commitment, and active participation. Different forms of kink may present as crucial aspects in making everyday life enjoyable and meaningful for kinky individuals. Kink, thus, seems to have a multifaceted role in the everyday life of individuals, often enhancing the everyday life experience.
... Consumers can have relationships with recurring activities (Mickelsson 2017). Female consumers, in particular, develop relationships with hedonic activities, such as running, celebrating Christmas rituals, and skydiving (Mickelsson 2017). ...
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Recent research on co-creation has shown that consumers can be motivated to co-create value based on specific actions. However, existing research does not show how these motivators are impacted by consumers’ gender. To fill this gap, the current research utilizes motivational theories to examine co-creation in the context of gender. The results of three studies show that female and male consumers are motivated differently when it comes to co-creating value with a brand. Specifically, females are more likely to co-create with a brand when they find the activity to be hedonic, while males are more likely to co-create with a brand when they find the activity to be socially important. Both genders will co-create with a brand when the activity aligns with their personal values. The results of this research add to the current understanding of consumer motivation and behavior in the context of value co-creation, and provide brand managers with insights as to how to adapt their strategies to motivate female and male consumers to co-create brands.
Purpose The purpose of this study is to examine how phygital luxury experiences can be generated from mobile-mediated service activities while enabling luxury apparel shoppers to attain status goals and hedonic goals. Phygital luxury experiences are defined in this context as shopping experiences that blend the participative and immersive components of mobile and ubiquitous media with physical luxury servicescapes. Design/methodology/approach This conceptual research draws on activity theory from the field of human-computer interaction to produce an activity-centric model of phygital luxury experiences. By drawing on activity theory, the authors develop research propositions and build a conceptual model. The conceptual model probes how phygital luxury experiences can be generated from mobile-mediated service activities that enable luxury apparel shoppers to attain status goals and hedonic goals. In turn, service activities are proposed to meld with luxury shopping goals when mobile devices allow luxury apparel shoppers to participate in community-, rules-, and labor-based service activities. Findings First, the conceptual model demonstrates that social validation and personalization are status and hedonic drivers for community-based service activities (e.g. content-sharing and multiplatform storytelling). Second, special privileges and new comforts are status and hedonic drivers for rules-based service activities (e.g. engaging in pseudo-webrooming, pseudo-showrooming, and seamless and on-demand resources). Third, know-how and domination are status and hedonic drivers for labor-based service activities (e.g. adopting self-service technologies and smart or intelligent displays). Originality/value This conceptual model contributes to the well-documented need for research on interactive luxury strategies and luxury retail innovation. Overall, these service activities provide luxury brands and shoppers new opportunities for building elite communities, bending store rules, and altering the division of labor within physical stores. At the same time, this model shows that exclusivity and allure of luxury consumption can be reproduced through luxury apparel shoppers’ embodied interactions with salespeople and relevant audiences in connected store environments.
Purchase and consumption behaviors in daily life often are repetitive and performed in customary places, leading consumers to develop habits. When habits have formed, environmental cues can activate the practiced responses in the absence of conscious decision making. This research tested these ideas using a longitudinal design. We predicted that regardless of their explicit intentions, consumers would repeat habits to purchase fast food, watch TV news, and take the bus. The results yielded the anticipated pattern in which participants repeated habitual behaviors even if they reported intentions to do otherwise. Intentions only guided behavior in the absence of strong habits. This study ruled out a number of artifactual accounts for these findings including that they arise from the level of abstraction at which intentions are identified, the certainty with which participants held intentions, a restriction of range in the measures, and the strategy participants used to estimate frequency of past performance.
Marketing theory and practice have focused persistently on exchange between buyers and sellers. Unfortunately, most of the research and too many of the marketing strategies treat buyer-seller exchanges as discrete events, not as ongoing relationships. The authors describe a framework for developing buyer-seller relationships that affords a vantage point for formulating marketing strategy and for stimulating new research directions.
On the basis of social exchange theory and the resource-dependence model, a structural model of interfirm adaptation is formulated. The model accounts for mutual adaptation as a consequence of trust-building as well as for unilateral adaptation due to imbalanced dependence between the parties. The view that interfirm adaptations are elements in a social exchange process is supported.
The authors provide a framework and a set of research propositions that capture and extend current theory on information processing from advertisements. The integrative attitude formation model includes antecedent levels of ability, motivation, and opportunity (AMO), processing of brand information, cognitive and emotional responses, brand attitude formation processes, and brand attitude. Key features of the framework are (1) a more complete, integrative discussion of needs and motivation, (2) a more precise specification of processing mechanisms than currently is proposed in two-routes-to-persuasion models, (3) inclusion of a new typology of emotional and cognitive responses explicitly linked to the levels of brand processing, and (4) a discussion of how alternative attitude formation models correspond to each level of brand processing. To assess the relative advantage of the framework, the authors compare the model with previous integrative models and discuss its implications for related research streams.
Purpose – Noting that resource integration is a pivotal dimension of value co-creation in Service-Dominant logic, this paper aims to explore how service employees engaged in co-creation processes with customers integrate the latter’s resources. Design/methodology/approach – To address the limitations of previous research on customer resources and their integration by service employees, this study turns to the concept of customer participation to identify the nature of customers’ resources. A conceptual framework of their integration by service employees underpins nine key propositions. This foundation leads to the development of theoretical contributions, managerial implications and avenues for research. Findings – Customers can use 12 types of resources in value co-creation. Contrasting with earlier findings, the conceptual framework reveals that service employees may not only integrate these customers’ resources but also either misintegrate or not integrate them. Non-integration and misintegration may be intentional or accidental. Accordingly, value co-creation or co-destruction may result from interactions. Research limitations/implications – This conceptual and exploratory text requires complementary theoretical and empirical investigations. It also does not adopt an ecosystems view of co-creation. Practical implications – Knowing the different steps of resource integration and what influences them should increase the chances of value co-creation and limit the risks of value co-destruction. Originality/value – Scant research has examined the nature of customer resources and how service employees integrate them. This paper also is the first to distinguish among resource integration, misintegration and non-integration.
Edmund Burke is one of the most important figures in the history of modern political thought, yet his thinking about politics is not easily reducible to a general or fully coherent philosophy. This is partly because of the practical character of much of his intellectual enterprise: elected to parliament in 1765, he remained - despite a brief hiatus in 1780 - a practicing politician for almost twenty-nine years. During this time, he never set out to produce a systematic work of political philosophy, and he repudiated attempts to read his various pronouncements on politics in this way. His account of his most famous work, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) – ‘I was throwing out reflexions upon a political event, and not reading a lecture upon theorism and principles of Government’ - arguably applies to the whole sweep of his political writings (C, VI: 304). His ‘works’ are largely a compilation of disconnected performances urging practical responses to specific problems from rebellion in America to revolution in France to political corruption in England to the abuse of power in Ireland and India. Whether or not one can abstract from these contexts a general doctrine or corpus of thought is debateable. And if such abstraction is possible, it is far from clear that his thought was consistent across contexts. He boasted later in life that if ‘he could venture to value himself on anything, it is on the virtue of consistency that he would value himself the most’, but his critics would continue to insist that this was a virtue in which he was most derelict (Works, III: 24).
Although selfies may appear to be the latest fad, their popularity has had a transformational influence on contemporary culture. Selfies invoke important issues in communication, photography, psychology, self-expression, and digital media studies – as they bring up a host of concerns about identity, privacy, security, and surveillance. This article provides an interdisciplinary overview of the selfie as both an object and a practice, and offers theoretical reflections on how the selfie can be seen as an important commodity form and consumer behaviour. The selfie is connected to concepts of authenticity, consumption, and self-expression, as well as practices of art history, media forms, and self-portraiture. Strategic use of the selfie reveals shifts in the traditional functions of the advertising photograph, from sources of information, persuasion, and representation to emblems of social currency. We position the selfie not as a postmodern anomaly but as a type of image with a history.
In public debates, communication campaigns and public policies, it is increasingly common to attribute to consumers and their agency an ability to help solve a broad array of societal problems. This tendency is particularly clear in the field of food consumption, owing to the fact that food is both materially and symbolically central for consumers in everyday life as well as for large scale institutionalized dynamics. In order to shed light on the challenges facing food consumption, this volume takes an innovative theoretical approach, presenting four empirical Danish case studies which are compared with other analyses drawn from the wider international context. Consumption Challenged will appeal not only to sociologists of consumption, risk and the environment, but also to policy makers and researchers in the fields of geography, communication, media, governance and social psychology.