Relationship marketing defined
There are numerous definitions of relationship marketing and interested readers are directed toward Hacker (1998) for a thorough review. Some of those most commonly used are the definitions offered by particularly influential authors, which are outlined below.
The definitions offered above derive from different research perspectives and variously emphasize different things. For example, Moorgin and Hunt in their definition identify the focus of relationship marketing in practice, while others emphasize its purpose (Go¨ onerous) and the processes by which it might be enacted(e.g. Moeller and Wilson).
- Relationship marketing refers to commercial relationships between economic partners, service providers and customers at various levels of the marketing channel and the broader business environment.
- This recognition results in a focus on the creation, maintenance and termination of these commercial relationships in order that parties to the relationship achieve their objectives (mutual benefit).
- Profit remains an underlying business concern and relational objectives are achieved through the fulfillment of promises.
- Trust is essential to this process of relationship development and centers upon the keeping of promises.
Although some writers have bemoaned the lack of common understanding (e.g. Bottle, 1996), it is obvious that a single definition of relationship marketing is unlikely to be poss.bile because, as already stated, each of the definitions above are influenced by the differend research traditions and different assumetons that influenced their authors. Indeed, relationship marketing is less a coherent body of knowledge and more a collection of loosely aligned understandings. These understandings have, in turn, different conceptual underpinnines and are strongly affected by the problems and issues that dominate the empirical sitarton. Thus, most definitions of relationship marketing are context specific, reflecting their respective research perspectives (e.g.
History of relationship marketing
One of the most interesting things about the body of knowledge that has come to be known as relationship marketing is that it emerged at the end of the 1970s in different research areas and in several different countries in dependentry. What is particularly surprising about this is that it was not until sometime later that we begin to see any discussion emerge between these various schools of thought. In other words, relationship marketing was discussed, defined and explored in different research ‘silos’ with very little consideration of what was taking place elsewhere. This section will briefly review the motivation, contribution and important concepts to emerge in services and business-to-business research.
Thus, by the mid1990s, the literature on interior organizational markiting relationships was characterized by a dual emphasis on single dyadic relationships (the relational paradigm) and on relationships within the context of networks (the network paradigm). Through a review of the contrib.tons from each sector, it becomes obvious how ‘interaction, relationships and networks’ have come to dominate contemporary understandinns of marketing.
Contributions from services marketing
The 1970s saw the emergence of services marketing as a distinct aspect of marketing. Early attempts to apply marketing techniques were dismissed as being essentially product focused and failing to deal with the unique characteristics of services (see Shoptalk, 1977). Essentially, the unique characteristics of services – inseparability, intangibility, heterogeneity and perish ability (Zenithal et al., 1985) – highlight the importance of people in the service expertonce. Although one hopeful contribution to the services literature in terms of extending the marketing mix to 7Ps was offered by Booms and Bitnet (1981), this proved to be less compelling than a focus on the service encounter (Solomon et al., 1985) and on interaction (Go¨ onerous, 1983). The recognition that customer retention was central to service marketing focused attention on the notion of creating service relationships (Go¨ onerous, 1983, 1989, 1994; Gambeson, 1987) and led Berry (1983) to coin the term relationship marketing.
Contributions from business-to-business marketing
The major contribution in this area comes from the IMP research in Europe. Researchers within the IMP fail to agree on the exact meaning of the acronym, with some suggesting that it is the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing Group and others referring to the International Markiting and Purchasing Group (see Ford, 1997). The problem occurs because industrial (or business-to-business) marketing in Europe is, by definition, international. IMP researchers relied primarily on qualitative methodologies (observation, interviewing managers and archive data) within a number of case studies in order to explore in reorganizational exchange. This work resulted in the recognition that relationships are important to the facilitation of in terror generational exchange (often more important than price).
Relationship marketing in consumer markets
Relationship marketing developed in industrial and service marketing contexts as a reaction against the limitations of mainstream (transacttonal) marketing. Initially eschewed by Manufactures interested in mass consumer markets because of the efficiency of the mix managemeant paradigm, changes in the competitive climate in the latter part of the 1980s and early 1990s propelled the interest in relationship marketing in mass consumer markets. Indeed, it may be useful to conceptualize considerstons of relationship marketing in mass consumer markets in terms of four phases: obscurity, discovery, acceptance and popularity (see O’Malley and Tina, 2000).
Thus, the 1990s marked a turbulent time for marketing, with two apparently competing paradigms vying for attention and supremacy. Despite its centrality to the theory and practice of marketing, the mix management paradigm (4Ps) began to be seriously questioned (Kent, 1986; van Waters hoot and van den Bullet, 1992; Go¨ onerous, 1994; O’Malley and Patterson, 1998). Now, in the early years of the new millennium, it appears that the debates that emerged throughout the 1980s and 1990s have been quieted (if not resolved) and that relationship marketing is synonymous with marketing.