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A new conceptual framework for business-consumer relationships

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to investigate the complex of factors affecting the present and future of empowered consumer behaviour that has evolved in developed countries, and to apply the outcome to the construction of a conceptual framework for the contemporary business-consumer relationship. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Drawing on a wide literature, a large number of macro- and micro-environmental elements are woven into a unique and personal view of the business-consumer relationship in developed countries. Findings ‐ This research examines the gradual formation of a dynamic equilibrium between consumers' rising power and businesses' enhanced ability to affect consumers' perceptions. Furthermore, consumer "needs" are found to be increasingly manifested into "wants" which are intangible, of obscure value, affective in nature and vulnerable to marketing communications. Research limitations/implications ‐ The paper maintains an idiosyncratic approach to the subject, aiming to generate scholarly discussion and further research, not to offer definitive answers. Pointers are offered to further studies to test the validity of the proposed framework. Practical implications ‐ It is hoped that the new conceptual framework may help marketing strategists and planners to better understand patterns of consumption in developed countries, and their causes. Branding seems to hold strong promise as a means to manage the business-consumer relationship in the twenty-first century. Originality/value ‐ Though not quite a "Viewpoint", this paper contains much food for thought.
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Keywords: Channel relationships; Consumer behaviour; Industrial countries; Social environment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-10-30

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