Centre for Service Management

News and Events

20 Apr 2023

CSM Publishes in Leading Journal

CSM Director, Prof Thorsten Gruber recently published an article in the European Journal of Marketing (EJM). Before going to Australia, the article’s first author, Dr Rachel Fuller,was CSM’scentre coordinator. In that role, one of Rachel’s main activities was the organisation of the 2016 CSM Doctoral Colloquium (together with Dr Higor Dos-Reis-Leite). The Colloquium, the first of its kind at the SBE, was focused on doctoral students with research in services area, with activities throughout the event such as PhD presentations and posters, academic and professional workshops, keynote speakers and networking. The event drew more than 80 delegates (mostly from the UK but also from continental Europe and North Africa) and was fully booked several weeks prior to the event.


The article is called “Advancing the understanding of the pre-purchase stage of the customer journey for service brands” and emerged from Rachel’s PhD thesis. The article was published this year in Vol. 57, No. 2 in the European Journal of Marketing (EJM). In Rachel’s new home, Australia, EJM is ranked as an A* journal. Congratulations, Rachel!



Purpose: Service branding research predominantly focuses on the purchase and post-purchase stages of the customer journey. The present research expands the lens of enquiry to the pre-purchase stage, showing the role service brand awareness and service brand retrieval play before customer experiences and relationships can be established.


Methodology: The research presents and empirically examines a new framework that links service brand awareness and service brand retrieval to key ‘battlegrounds’ in the pre-purchase stage of the customer journey: entry into the Awareness Set, Consideration Set and Repertoire Set. The empirical work draws on data from both services and goods markets from two UK-based consumer surveys (N=771 and N=270 respectively).


Findings: The findings indicatethat, pre-purchase, service brands compete most intensively to establish and reinforce a broad array of memory associations, rather than a specific corporate or brand image.


Practical implications: The findings translate into novel, long-term strategies for the management of service brands at the pre-purchase stage of the customer journey, especially opportunities for effective and creative marketing communications.


Originality: This study contributes to marketing research and practice by introducing the notion of service brand retrieval and highlighting its role, together with service brand awareness, pre-purchase.


Research limitations: To improve the generalizability of the conclusions drawn, the findings of this study should be replicated in additional service categories and consumer samples. 


Key words: service brands, customer journey, pre-purchase, consumer decision-making, brand awareness, brand retrieval.


The full text can be found here