Consumer Engagement: Contemporary Challenges in an Evolving World


Consumer engagement (CE) has gained rapidly growing practitioner and researcher interest in recent years (Kumar et al., 2019; Rather et al., 2021), as revealed by its inclusion in the Marketing Science Institute’s Research Priorities since 2010 (e.g., MSI, 2020). Illustrating its growing importance, Gallup Research advocates that engaged consumers, on average, account for 7-23% revenue growth, while disengaged consumers generate an average 1-13% revenue decline (Kumar & Pansari, 2016). Market globalization, economic collapse, increased competition, digital innovation, rise of new technologies, and the global COVID-19 pandemic offers both opportunities and threats for service brands/firms (Flavián et al., 2020; Hollebeek, et al., 2020). The way customers communicate with brands/firms and other customers have changed dramatically due to the growth of social media, smartphones, online/virtual brand communities, virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, and COVID-19 (Flavián et al., 2019; Sheth, 2020). CE represents a strategic imperative, specifically for highly interactive services (Brodie et al., 2011) including retailing (Khan et al., 2019), hospitality (Dewnarain et al., 2021; So et al., 2016), tourism (Rather et al., 2021), healthcare, food and beverage (Jaakkola & Alexander, 2014), entertainment, education, or research (Kumar & Pansari, 2016; Rather & Hollebeek, 2021). Thus, CE is important to stimulate competitive advantage, sales growth, referrals, and stock returns, among others (Pansari & Kumar, 2017).


CE’s definition is also broadly debated. For instance, Kumar et al. (2019, p. 141) define CE as “a consumer’s…volitional investment of focal operant resources (including cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social knowledge/skills), and operand resources (e.g., equipment) in [their] brand interactions”. While, Brodie et al. (2011, p. 260) view the concept as “a psychological state, which occurs by virtue of interactive customer experiences with a focal agent/object [commonly, a brand] within …service relationships.” In spite of their differences, these conceptualizations share a focus on the consumer’s brand interactions that pervades the CE literature (e.g., Hollebeek et al., 2019; Rather et al., 2018).


Despite the growing interest in CE, a paucity of literature maps the overall body of CE research to-date (Pansari & Kumar, 2017; So et al., 2020), revealing a significant need to monitor the evolution of the field. Despite CE’s rapid surge, most research focusing on specific CE aspects/subsets like (its conceptualization, antecedents, or consequences), rather than intriguing a broader perspective of overall CE literature (So et al., 2020). Further, given the differing theoretical perspectives applied for CE, the area is starting to suffer from theoretical fragmentation (Van Doorn et al., 2010), also generating a need to systematically explore this prosperous literature stream (Rather & Hollebeek, 2021). Further, literature so-far has focused on CE’s positive consequences, it can also produce negative outcomes (Clark et al., 2020), including customer stress, fear, at different stages of customer journey (Sheth, 2020).


The psychological factors include consumers’ emotions, stress, fear, empathy, self-esteem, locus-of-control, and environmental shocks, including current global COVID-19, which affects consumers’ attitudes and behaviors (Ramkissoon, 2020; Sheth, 2020). Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the world is now facing an unprecedented psychological, socio-economic disruptions, and global-health emergency (Hollebeek, et al., 2020). Although firms, customer, and psychological, environmental, cultural, or personal factors have been identified as key customer factors, insights into these CE factors in services remains scarce to-date, and thus being investigated in this special issue.


Based on these observed research gaps, this special issue calls for further conceptualizations and contextualization of CE research across different contexts/markets. This call for papers welcomes conceptual, methodological, quantitative or qualitative, contributions, which provide rich insights in this area. This proposal addresses a timely and contemporary issue on CE in the service industry. Special issue papers may focus on topics including, but not limited to, the following:


  • Role of different theoretical perspectives (e.g., service dominant logic, social exchange theory, congruity theory, relationship marketing theory) to frame CE
  • Antecedents and consequences affecting CE in an evolving world
  • Positive and negative impacts of CE in service contexts during turbulent times
  • Role of socio-demographic and cultural factors (i.e., age, gender, culture etc.) and CE dynamics
  • New and innovative methodological approaches to examining CE
  • Role of digital innovation and technology effecting CE in the service environment
  • Role of virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, social media, online brand/virtual communities effecting CE
  • Brand-consumer co-creation and experience affecting CE through the consumer journey differently pre- and post-COVID-19
  • Role of psychological factors (e.g., consumers’ emotions, stress, fear, self-esteem, locus-of-control) impacting CE pre-/post-COVID-19
  • CE’s crucial cross-border dynamics post-COVID-19
  • Situations/contexts where CE will be enhanced post-COVID19


Submissions dates:

October 31, 2021 to May, 31 2022. Early submissions are appreciated.



Brodie, R. J., Hollebeek, L. D., Jurić, B., & Ilić, A. (2011). Customer engagement: conceptual domain, fundamental propositions, and implications for research. Journal of Service Research, 14(3), 252-271.

Clark, M. K., Lages, C. R., & Hollebeek, L. D. (2020). Friend or foe? Customer engagement’s value-based effects on fellow customers and the firm. Journal of Business Research, 121, 549-556.

Dewnarain, S., Ramkissoon, H., & Mavondo, F. (2021). Social customer relationship management: a customer perspective. Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 1-26.

Flavián, C., Ibáñez-Sánchez, S., & Orús, C. (2019). The impact of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies on the customer experience. Journal of Business Research, 100, 547-560.

Flavián, C., Ibáñez-Sánchez, S., & Orús, C. (2020). Impacts of technological embodiment through virtual reality on potential guests’ emotions and engagement. Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 1-20.

Jaakkola, E., & Alexander, M. (2014). The role of customer engagement behavior in value co-creation: a service system perspective. Journal of Service Research, 17(3), 247-261.

Hollebeek, L. D., Smith, D. L., Kasabov, E., Hammedi, W., Warlow, A., & Clark, M. K. (2020). Customer brand engagement during service lockdown. Journal of Services Marketing. Forthcoming.

Hollebeek, L.D., Sprott, E.S., Andreassen, T.W., Costley, C., Klaus, P., Kuppelwieser, V., . . .Rather, R.A. (2019). Customer engagement in evolving technological environments: synopsis and guiding propositions. European Journal of Marketing, 53(9), 2018-2023.

MSI - Marketing Science Institute (2020). Research Priorities 2020-2022. Accessed (Feb 7, 2021) at:

Sheth, J. (2020). Impact of Covid-19 on consumer behavior: Will the old habits return or die?. Journal of Business Research, 117, 280-283.

Khan, I., Hollebeek, L. D., Fatma, M., Islam, J. U., & Rahman, Z. (2019). Brand engagement and experience in online services. Journal of Services Marketing, 34(2), 163-175

Kumar, V. & Pansari, A. (2016). Competitive advantage through engagement. Journal of Marketing Research. 53, 497-514.

Kumar, V., Rajan, B., Gupta, S., & Dalla Pozza, I. (2019). Customer engagement in service. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47(1), 138-160.

Pansari, A. & Kumar, V. (2017). Customer engagement: The construct, antecedents, and consequences. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 45, 3, 294-311.

Ramkissoon, H. (2020). Perceived social impacts of tourism and quality-of-life: A new conceptual model. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 1-17.

Rather, R. A., & Hollebeek, L. (2021). Customers’ service-related engagement, experience, and behavioral intent:  Moderating role of age. Journal of Retailing & Consumer Services, Forthcoming.

Rather, R.A., Hollebeek, L.D., & Rasoolimanesh, S. (2021). First-time vs. repeat tourism customer engagement, experience, and value co-creation: An empirical investigation. Journal of Travel Research, Forthcoming.

Rather, R. A., Tehseen, S., &Parrey, S. H. (2018). Promoting customer brand engagement and brand loyalty through customer brand identification and value congruity. Spanish Journal of Marketing-ESIC, 22(3), 319–337.

So, K. K. F., King, C., Sparks, B. A., & Wang, Y. (2016). The role of customer engagement in building consumer loyalty to tourism brands. Journal of Travel Research, 55(1), 64-78.

So, K.K.F., Wei, W. & Martin, D. (2020). Understanding customer engagement and social media activities in tourism: A latent profile analysis and cross-validation. Journal of Business Research, Forthcoming.

Van Doorn, J., Lemon, K. N., Mittal, V., Nass, S., Pick, D., Pirner, P., & Verhoef, P. C. (2010). Customer engagement behavior: Theoretical foundations and research directions. Journal of Service Research, 13(3), 253-266.


Guest Editors:

Raouf A. Rather

University of Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Orcid ID: 0000-0002-9242-1165

[email protected]

Haywantee Ramkissoon123

1University of Derby, UK

2The Arctic University of Norway, Norway

3University of Johhanesburg, South Africa

Orcid ID: 0000-0002-2603-0473

[email protected]


Kevin Kam Fung So

Oklahoma State University, USA

Orcid ID: 0000-0002-4846-7481

[email protected]


Editor in Chief:

Carlos Flavián

University of Zaragoza, SPAIN

Orcid ID: 0000-0001-7118-9013

[email protected]


About the SJM-ESIC

The Spanish Journal of Marketing-ESIC (SJM-ESIC) is a double peer-reviewed journal with an international vocation, accepting manuscripts of authors from all over the world who can focus on any relevant international market, not necessarily related to the Spanish market. The name of the journal only reflects its origin. ESIC and AEMARK are proud to offer this channel of scientific communication to the entire international community on marketing, international business, services or tourism.


Free Open Access Journal

SJM-ESIC is a free open access journal: all articles will be immediately and permanently free for everyone to read, download and share. Open access is also free for authors: Authors do not have to pay any publication fee (all the publications fees are paid by ESIC and AEMARK guaranteeing the independence between authorship and funding of the journal).


Submission Procedure 

Submissions should be made through the Scholar One submission system. Please, read the author guidelines before and clearly indicate in your Cover Letter that you would like your paper to be considered for inclusion in the Special Issue “Consumer Engagement: Contemporary Challenges in an Evolving World”.


Spanish journal of marketing-ESIC ISSN: 2444-9709

Abbreviated key-title: Span. j. mark.-ESIC



If you have any queries please feel free to discuss your manuscript ideas with the Guest Editors: Raouf A. Rather ([email protected]); Haywantee Ramkissoon ([email protected]) or Kevin Kam Fung So ([email protected]).