A New Understanding of Brand Development through Social-Actor Engagement
Recent years have seen a growing scholarly call for a new conceptualization of brand development as an interactive, co-creative and network-based process, in which customers adopt more active roles. These active roles are posed as different from those previously envisioned by services and relationship marketing scholars, which were more often contextualized in a dyadic and organizationally-biased way (e.g. service encounters, customer-brand touchpoints). Rather, increasingly, a different set of participative and collaborative roles are indicated and typified by the notion of engagement. However, there is much theoretical ambiguity surrounding engagement, and a limited empirical understanding of the process of brand development in which engagement is becoming a central notion. This thesis aims to fill these knowledge gaps. To achieve its aims, this thesis adopts a multi-case study approach and uses diverse data gathering and analysis techniques, including in-depth interviews with brand managers, naturalistic observation of social media and brand community sites, as well as big data analysis of Twitter interactions involving 444,709 tweets over the span of two and half years. Taking social constructionist ontology and employing interpretive epistemologies grounded in hermeneutics, this thesis makes three key contributions to the literature. These are: (1) the introduction of social-actor engagement as a new analytical framework for understanding the new active roles of not just customers but a broad range of social actors; (2) explanation and comparison of two distinct marketing approaches to brand development (i.e. social customer relationship management and brand co-creation) through the lens of social-actor engagement; and, (3) further theorization of brand co-creation as a contemporary model of brand development in an engagement eco-system context.
Advisor: Ballantyne, David; Biggemann, Sergio
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Marketing
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: engagement; social-actor engagement; brand development; social media; big data; mixed-method research; engagement eco-system; brand co-creation; brand narratives; social customer relationship management; SCRM; Twitter; case study; multiple case study; qualitative research; brand community
Research Type: Thesis