Loughborough University
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Advancing the understanding of the pre-purchase stage of the customer journey for service brands

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-08, 12:08 authored by Rachel Fuller, Lara Stocchi, Thorsten GruberThorsten Gruber, Jenni Romaniuk

Purpose - Service branding research predominantly focuses on the purchase and postpurchase stages of the customer journey. This study aims to expand the lens of enquiry to the prepurchase stage, showing the role service brand awareness and service brand retrieval play before customer experiences and relationships can be established. 

Design/methodology/approach - The research presents and empirically examines a new framework that links service brand awareness and service brand retrieval to key “battlegrounds” in the prepurchase 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 indicate that, prepurchase, service brands compete most intensively to establish and reinforce a broad array of memory associations, rather than a specific corporate or brand image. 

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

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

Originality/value - 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 and prepurchase.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

Published in

European Journal of Marketing








Emerald Publishing Limited


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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© Emerald Publishing Limited

Publisher statement

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal European Journal of Marketing and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1108/ejm-10-2021-0792. This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact permissions@emerald.com

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Prof Thorsten Gruber. Deposit date: 5 December 2022