A scale of consumer engagement
The practitioner literature is replete with examples of firm efforts to engage consumers. However, the existing relationship marketing constructs focus primarily on customer retention. This research examines those offerings or activities of firms that aim to engage prospects, potentials, customers and their extended relationships, together addressed as consumers in this research. Contributing to the recent efforts to expand the domain of relationship marketing, this research develops the construct of Consumer Engagement, which is the intensity of the consumer's participation and connection with the organization's offerings and/ or its organized activities. Using several qualitative methods, this research develops the construct of Consumer Engagement, differentiating it from existing constructs, such as involvement and customer communities. The qualitative studies in this research show that consumers may be engaged with offerings (e.g. iPod), activities (e.g. Beauty workshops), institutions (Ikea), or brands (e.g. Apple). These offerings/ activities might come from profit-making or non-profit organizations. Engagement might be in the presence or absence of other consumers, and might happen online or offline. Consumers may also be engaged through activities organized by the businesses or by consumers themselves. Using established quantitative scale development procedures, the consumer engagement scale is developed, refined and validated. Consumer Engagement is a three-dimensional, second-order construct, composed of enthusiasm, conscious participation and social interaction. These dimensions are verified using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis and validated on three different data sets, representing product usage, retail service and activity. The exploration of consumer engagement helps us understand the participation and connection of consumers, independent of their commercial transactions with the company. This research shows that even routine products and brands can engage a consumer, which, in turn, positively influences their connection with the firm, and feelings of goodwill towards and intent to do business with the firm.