In the last decade, customer engagement (CE), defined as customers’ investment of operant/operand resources in their brand interactions (Hollebeek, Srivastava, and Chen 2019; Kumar et al. 2019), has experienced surging research interest. Although CE is argued to yield significant organizational benefits, including elevated sales, share of wallet, referrals, and profitability (Brodie et al. 2011), and empirical evidence corroborates that superior performance outcomes accrue to highly engaged customers for both offline (Kumar and Pansari 2016) and digital (Meire et al. 2019) CE activities, scholarly insight regarding CE and its dynamics and potential contingencies in international markets remains tenuous (Christofi et al. 2018).
That is, while most existing research addresses CE in particular domestic or local market conditions, the reported findings may lack generalizability in and across international markets, revealing an important research gap. For example, Gupta, Pansari, and Kumar (2018, p. 16) posit that “the positive association between customer experience and satisfaction is enhanced in collectivistic (vs. individualistic) culture[s],” thus revealing important CE-based differences across markets. Similarly, Hollebeek (2018, p. 46) postulates that “consumers displaying mostly individualist (collectivist) traits will focus their cognitive CE more on individual brand interaction attributes (holistic brand interactions) than consumers exhibiting mostly collectivist (individualist) traits,” corroborating the existence of differing cross-cultural CE dynamics.
Different market environments exhibit unique characteristics in terms of culture, GDP, living standards, regulation, socioeconomic systems, purchase behaviors, and so on (Burgess and Steenkamp 2006), thus differentially shaping cross-market CE. That is, customers’ cross-cultural engagement styles or their “motivationally driven disposition to think, feel, act, and relate to others in a certain manner characteristic of their specific individual … traits in brand interactions” are likely to differ across markets (Hollebeek 2018, p. 46). Moreover, firms’ CE-cultivating strategies may differ in line with prevailing institutional or infrastructure conditions. For example, Kumar and Pansari (2016) find that economic growth, which they argue will affect consumer budgets, has a positive impact on CE. Furthermore, the lack of trust-enhancing infrastructure and well-functioning regulatory institutions in emerging markets can affect consumer trust and CE (Jaiswal et al. 2018).
Drawing on these observed gaps, in this special issue we call for the further contextualization of CE research across international markets (Tsang and Kwan 1999), which refers to the process of “incorporating the context in describing, understanding, and theorizing about phenomena within it” (Tsui 2006, p. 2). We welcome conceptual, methodological, qualitative, or quantitative contributions that offer insight in this area. Special issue papers may focus on topics including, but not limited to, the following:
- To what extent do existing CE-based findings hold up in or across international marketing contexts?
- How do cross-cultural characteristics affect CE in or across particular market-based scenarios?
- How does customer trust/relational behavior affect cross-market CE (or vice versa; Hewett and Bearden 2001)?
- Which entry strategies are most conducive in markets characterized by different CE styles (Onamusi 2020)?
- To what extent does culture affect customer-to-customer interactions in international market contexts (e.g., online brand communities, social media; Kim, Moon, and Iaccobucci 2019)?
- How does product/service standardization influence CE in or across particular markets?
- How does different countries’ technological infrastructure and/or usage affect online CE?
- How do consumers engage with particular brands in the company’s home market (vs. particular host markets)?
- (How) does customer ethnocentrism affect CE with local/domestic (vs. foreign-made) products or brands?
- How do multinational corporations (vs. born global companies) develop CE in particular markets?
- Which international market research best practices help advance insight into CE with specific brands, products, or firms in or across particular markets?
- How do differing national characteristics (e.g., literacy rates, technology access, GDP) affect CE across markets?
- What is the role of institutional or other national (e.g., regulatory, political, administrative, knowledge-based, global connectedness) factors or conditions (Berry, Guillen, and Zhou 2010) in firms’ abilities to develop and benefit from CE?
- Which cultural model(s) best explain or predict CE’s development across international markets?
- What are CE’s key cross-border characteristics and dynamics, both during and after COVID-19?
- How has the pandemic affected the use of (smart) technology across international markets, and what is its impact on CE?
All manuscripts must conform to JIM’s author guidelines. Manuscripts must be submitted through the JIM’s Manuscript Central website. When submitting your manuscript, please indicate that your submission is to the special issue entitled “Customer Engagement in International Markets.” The closing date for submissions is July 30, 2021.
Queries can be directed at the Special Issue Guest Editors:
Linda D. Hollebeek
Senior Associate Professor/Full Professor of Marketing
Montpellier Business School/Tallinn University of Technology
Professor of Marketing
University of Namur
Sanjit K. Roy
Associate Professor of Marketing
University of Western Australia
Reagan Professor of Business
University of Tennessee
Berry, Heather, Mauro F. Guillén, and Nan Zhou (2010), “An Institutional Approach to Cross-National Distance,” Journal of International Business Studies, 41 (9), 1460–80.
Brodie, Rod, Linda Hollebeek, Ana Ilic, and Biljana Juric (2011), “Customer Engagement: Conceptual Domain, Fundamental Propositions & Implications for Research in Service Marketing,” Journal of Service Research, 14 (3), 252–71.
Burgess, Steven M. and Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp (2006), “Marketing Renaissance: How Research in Emerging Markets Advances Marketing Science and Practice,” International Journal of Research in Marketing, 23 (4), 337–56.
Christofi, Michael, Demetris Vrontis, Erasmia Leonidou, and Alkis Thrassou (2018), “Customer Engagement Through Choice in Cause-Related Marketing: A Potential for Global Competitiveness,” International Marketing Review, 29 (5), 354–66.
Gupta, Shaphali, Anita Pansari, and V. Kumar (2018), “Global Customer Engagement,” Journal of International Marketing, 26 (1), 4–29.
Hewett, Kelly and William O. Bearden (2001), “Dependence, Trust, and Relational Behavior on the Part of Foreign Subsidiary Marketing Operations: Implications for Managing Global Marketing Operations,” Journal of Marketing, 65 (4), 51–66.
Hollebeek, Linda (2018), “Individual-Level Cultural Consumer Engagement Styles: Conceptualization, Propositions, and Implications,” International Marketing Review, 35 (1), 42–71.
Hollebeek, Linda, Rajendra K. Srivastava, and Tom Chen (2019), “S-D Logic-Informed Customer Engagement: Integrative Framework, Revised Fundamental Propositions, and Application to CRM,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47 (1), 161–85.
Jaiswal, Anand, Rakesh Niraj, Chang Hee Park, and Manoj K. Agarwal (2018), “The Effect of Relationship and Transactional Characteristics on Customer Retention in Emerging Online Markets,” Journal of Business Research, 92, 25–35
Kim, Moon-Yong, Sangkil Moon, and Dawn Iaccobucci (2019), “The Influence of Global Brand Distribution on Brand Popularity on Social Media,” Journal of International Marketing, 27 (4), 22–38.
Kumar, V. and Anita Pansari (2016) “Competitive Advantage Through Engagement,” Journal of Marketing Research, 53 (4), 497–514.
Kumar, V., Bharath Rajan, Shaphali Gupta, and Ilaria Dalla Pozza (2019), “Customer Engagement in Service,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47 (1), 138–60.
Meire, Matthijs, Kelly Hewett, Michel Ballings, V. Kumar, and Dirk van den Poel (2019), “The Role of Marketer-Generated Content in Customer Engagement Marketing,” Journal of Marketing, 83 (6), 21–42.
Onamusi, Abiodun (2020), “Entry Mode Strategy, Customer Engagement, and Firm Performance,” Journal of Business and Social Review in Emerging Economies, 6 (1), 99–112.
Tsang, Eric and Kai-Man Kwan (1999), “Replication and Theory Development in Organizational Science: A Critical Realist Perspective,” Academy of Management Review, 24 (4), 759–80.
Tsui, Anne S. (2006), “Contextualization in Chinese Management Research,” Management and Organization Review, 2 (1), 1–13.
Special Issue Editor Bios
Linda D. Hollebeek, Ph.D, is Senior Associate Professor of Marketing at Montpellier Business School and Full Professor of Marketing at Tallinn University of Technology (Adj.). Her research centers on customer/consumer engagement and interactive consumer/brand relationships. Her work to date has published in the Journal of Service Research, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, International Marketing Review, Journal of Interactive Marketing, and Industrial Marketing Management, among others. She is the recipient of the 2020 SERVSIG Emerging Scholar Award, serves as Associate Editor of the European Journal of Marketing, is on the ERB of Psychology & Marketing, and is co-editor of The Handbook of Research on Customer Engagement. She has guest edited recent special issues in the Journal of Service Research (near finalization) and International Journal of Research in Marketing (mostly finalized).
Wafa Hammedi, Ph.D, is Associate Professor of Service Innovation and Marketing at the University of Namur-Belgium. She received her Ph.D from the Institute for Management Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Her primary research interests include service innovation, user engagement, vulnerable service users (e.g., health care), and engagement mechanisms (e.g., gamification). She has published in highly recognized journals such as the Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of Interactive Marketing, and Journal of Business Research. She is cofounder of the Annual Doctoral Symposium in the service field, “AMA – SERVSIG – Let’s Talk About Service,” serves as Associate Editor of the Journal of Services Marketing, and is member of the Editorial Boards of several journals. She is currently guest editing two special issues for Journal of Services Marketing and Recherche et Applications en Marketing (A-ranked journal of the French Marketing Association).
Sanjit K. Roy, Ph.D, is Associate Professor of Marketing and Fellow at the Centre for Business Data Analytics at UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia. He is a certified LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator. He is an Associate Editor at the European Journal of Marketing and on the Editorial Boards of Journal of Business Research, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Strategic Marketing, and the Journal of Service Theory & Practice. His research interests include marketing of services, impact of new technology on marketing, and transformative service research. He has published in the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Marketing Management, Information Systems Frontiers, and Journal of Services Marketing, among others. He has guest edited special issues for the Journal of Service Theory & Practice, Journal of Strategic Marketing, and International Journal of Bank Marketing. Currently, he is also guest editing special issues for the International Journal of Information Management and Journal of Marketing Management.
Kelly Hewett, Ph.D, is the Reagan Professor of Marketing and Haslam Family Faculty Research Fellow at the University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business. She also serves as Editor in Chief of the Journal of International Marketing. Prior to joining UT, she worked for five years at Bank of America, where she was a senior vice president in the firm’s corporate marketing group. Previously, she had a ten-year academic career and also held prior positions in international marketing and marketing research. Kelly’s research has been published in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and Journal of International Marketing, among others.