The Grounded Theory approach to consumer–brand engagement: the practitioner’s standpoint

Rossella C. Gambetti and Guendalina Graffigna

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Silvia Biraghi

Università IULM


Consumer–brand engagement (CBE) is a recent concept in the marketing literature expanding the domain of relationship marketing (Vivek et al. 2011), presently emphasised as a fundamental driver of both consumer decision-making process (Bowden 2009; Sprott et al. 2009) and brand equity (Schultz & Block 2011), being generally considered by marketers as a priority in branding strategies (Hollebeek 2011a).

However, currently in the marketing literature exists neither a clear nor a unitary definition of this concept, but only an implicit knowledge rooted in daily brand practices (Brodie et al. 2011a; Hollebeek 2011b). Practitioners conceive CBE as establishing a strong and enduring bond between brand and consumers based on an ongoing effort of the brand to activate consumers through interaction, shared values, experiential contents and rewards (Schultz 2007). In their CBE practices and efforts, marketers faced many problems and opportunities, acquiring a privileged and ‘grounded in the market’ perspective of the CBE concept that it is important to explore and understand in order to build a realistic conceptual framework of the CBE construct.