Implementing relationship marketing: supermarkets' perspectives

Georgina Whyatt, R. Koschek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


There is a stream of literature which implies that for supermarkets, as organisations that operate with low staff‐customer interaction, within a price competitive environment and are dependent on high economies of scale, the return on investment in a relationship marketing (RM) approach does not justify the expense. The purpose of this paper is to explore how supermarkets select and implement RM strategies and seek value from that investment.

In‐depth, semi‐structured interviews were undertaken with senior marketing managers in German and UK supermarkets. The interview themes were drawn from the RM literature. Loyalty frameworks provided guidelines for the data analysis.

The results suggest that definitions of RM have historically been too narrow due to research having been focussed on the sectors with a high‐service element and undertaken at a time when customer data collection and analysis were more expensive than currently. In addition to those already identified in the literature, further factors into which retailers could invest to build an RM strategy are suggested.

Research limitations/implications
The marketing perspective of only seven supermarkets was examined. Future researchers should undertake a more exhaustive approach in order to fully establish how the management of RM in one sector differs from that in another.

Practical implications
A “retail RM mix” framework was developed and guidelines for the cost‐effective management of RM are provided.

This is the first study to examine supermarkets' perspectives on RM approaches, by seeking responses from the retailers rather than the customers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-599
Number of pages18
JournalMarketing Intelligence and Planning
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


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