Author:Ghani, Noor Hasmini Abd


Consumer brand relationship emerged as a new research field (Fournier, 1998; Keller & Lehmann, 2006) in marketing literature. Refer to the works of Shimp & Maden (1988) idea of the concept consumer brand relationship emerged as a metaphoric concept analogous to person to person relationships. Interpersonal relationship dynamics are drawn to the concept consumer brand relationship e.g. brand as an active relationship partner like human in interpersonal relationship (Aggarwal, 2004; Fournier, 1998; Ghani & Tuhin, 2016), brand possess distinctive personality like human (Aaker, 1997; Fournier, 1998). These relational foundations on which the concept consumer brand relationship stands on is back by different interpersonal relationship theories e.g. interdependency theory (Thibaut & Kelley, 1959), social penetration theory (Altman & Taylor, 1973), investment model (Rusbult, 1980), social exchange theory Homan (1961), resource theory (Foa & Foa, 1974). Consumer brand relationship, therefore, becomes as a distinct area of research in marketing literature from theoretical and conceptual ground.

Since the beginning of consumer brand relationship research various concepts, theories, models and perspectives have been introduced to better explanation and understanding how consumers form relationship with their brands (Fetscherin & Heinrich, 2015). Various concepts like self-brand connection (Cheng, White & Chaplin, 2012; Escalas & Bettman, 2005), brand attachment (Lourerio, Ruediger & Demetris, 2012; Park, MacInnis, Priester, Eisengerich & Iacabucci, 2010; Belaid & Behi, 2011), brand love (Albert & Merunka, 2013), brand passion (Albert, Merunka & Valette Florence, 2013), brand commitment (Kang, Tang & Fiore, 2014; Lourerio, Ruediger & Demetris, 2012; Walsh, Winterch & Mittal, 2010; Shaari, Salleh & Hussin, 2012), brand trust (Albert & Merunka, 2013; Lourerio, Ruediger & Demetris, 2012; Ong, Salleh & Yusoff, 2016) are commonly research in consumer brand relationship context. These researches not only enrich the concept of consumer brand relationship research but also urge the importance of further research that will unfold different facets of the concept.

Besides the above widely used constructs, literatures also introduced different new constructs to explore and explain consumer brand relationship (Fetscherin & Heinrich, 2015). Different new concepts e.g. brand reliability (Hess, Story & Danes, 2011), brand fidelity (Hess, Story & Danes, 2011), brand authenticity (Ilicic & Webster, 2014), brand evangelism (Pichler & Hemetsberger, 2007) were also been tested from consumer brand relationship concept. Consumer brand relationship research, therefore, continuously growing and extending in different facets. However, little attention is given to existing researches to examine and analyze how the consumer brand relationship research has evolved and shaped (Fetscherin & Heinrich, 2015).

This paper aims to fill the gap reviewing the previous literature on consumer brand relationship. The study will find the evolution of consumer brand relationship based on different decades since its beginning to recent time. From consumer brand relationship perspective, longitudinal research approach is essential as various concepts and theories have been applied from different discipline (Fetscherin & Heinrich, 2015). From this ground, this will give a precise understanding of the concept how it has been emerged and developed over the period and its major research trends.


This is a literature review paper for which the researchers reviewed the paper from 1988 to 2017 related to the concept of consumer brand relationship. The researchers selected the papers from the renowned and high indexed journal like Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Psychology and Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Brand Management, Journal of Product and Brand Management and others. These journals play the major role of consumer brand relationship research. The researchers considered the research paper for this study that highlight the relationship aspect of brand with their consumers.


The start of the concept consumer brand relationship is a matter of debate. Fetscherin & Heinrich (2014) opined that the 1990s is the decade the concept consumer brand relationship was introduced in academic world. They considered "Brand Personality: Building Brand Relationships" by Blackston (1993) as the first piece of work of consumer brand relationship. However, they overlooked the work of Shimp & Maden (1888) "Consumer-Object Relations: A Conceptual Framework Based Analogously on Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love". Though critics may raise question whether the concept consumer-object relationship analogous to consumer brand relationship. Brand is an in-animate entity. In this consideration, these two concepts are similar. Moreover, Shimp & Maden (1988) in the definition of consumer object relationship clearly stated that by object they referred brands as well. It is therefore clear that the concept originated in 1980s by Shimp & Maden (1988).

Earlier different relational concepts (e.g. brand attitude, brand loyalty) were used in branding research (Shimp & Maden, 1988). (Park & Young, 1986; Gardner, 1985; Lutz, MacKenzie & Belch, 1983; Cox & Locander, 1987) studied about brand attitude where (Raj, 1985; Wernerfelt, 1985; Tranberg & Hansen, 1986; Rothschild, 1987; Moschis, Moore & Stanley, 1984) studied brand loyalty. Researchers used these concepts from consumers' relationship perspective. However, these concepts failed to form common link and unified framework of consumer brand relationship (Shimp & Maden, 1988).

Shimp & Maden (1988) first proposed consumer brand relationship under consumer object relations as distinct concept. They drew the theme of the concept as metaphor of person to person relationship. They attempted to establish the concept from human psychological process. For this they combined human motivation, cognition and emotion and proposed eight types of relationships (e.g. nonliking, liking, infatuation, functionalism, inhibited desire, utilitarianism, succumbed desire and loyalty) existing between consumers and their consumption objects that was absent in the early literatures of branding studies from relationship perspectives. However, there is a scope of criticism as it is a metaphoric concept which has been lacking empirical evidences. They did not identify and measure the components of consumer brand relationships. They only identified the relationship of consumers with their...

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