Call for Paper for a Special Issue of Psychology & Marketing

Consumer Engagement & Stress

Guest Editors: L.D. Hollebeek, D.E. Sprott, & W. Hammedi

Deadline: 28 February 2022

In recent years, the consumer engagement (CE) concept has seen rapid growth (Kumar et al. 2019; Feddema et al. 2020; Moriuchi 2019). Defined as a consumer’s resource investment in his/her brand interactions (Hollebeek et al. 2019), CE is thought to foster enhanced consumer outcomes, including greater empowerment, self-brand connection, and value co-creation (e.g., Sprott et al. 2009; Giakoumaki and Krepapa 2019; Chung et al. 2018; Stathopoulou et al. 2017). However, though the literature to date has focused on CE’s positive consequences, it can also yield negative outcomes (Clark et al. 2020), including consumer stress, at different stages of the customer journey (Roy and Jain 2020).

Consumer stress refers to consumers’ perceived pressure or strain related to their consumption activity (Sujan et al. 1999; Berry et al. 2015), which may arise from endogenous and/or exogenous factors. First, endogenous sources of stress include firm/brand-related performance anxiety, schema-inconsistent dynamics, information- or choice overload, and so on (Kim et al. 2019; Mathmann et al. 2017; Mandler 2011). For example, Burger King’s “Have It Your Way” campaign requests consumers’ active coproduction in service delivery, which can induce stress (e.g., due to lacking perceived self-efficacy or skills). Second, exogenous sources of consumer stress include environmental changes or shocks, including the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, COVID-19, global warming, or technostress, which can affect buyer attitudes and behaviors. For example, buyers who shifted to purchasing online (vs. in-store) during COVID-19 have a reduced opportunity to assess various brand-related (e.g., tactile, olfactory) cues prior to purchase, which can trigger stress. Relatedly, online purchasing can see an elevated rate of unwanted product returns, reflecting a further potential source of consumer stress. However, while firm, consumer, and environmental factors have been recognized as important consumer stressors, insight into the CE/stress interface remains tenuous to date, as therefore explored in this Special Issue.

While the foregoing discussion highlights Selye’s (1974) notion of consumer distress, which refers to an individual’s consumption-related strain, eustress denotes stress that benefits the consumer (e.g., by learning about a brand). Eustress and distress, which can be induced by endogenous or exogenous factors, are closely related and may mutually affect or converge in one another (e.g., at high levels, consumer eustress can turn into distress, or vice versa). To deal with stress, consumers employ different coping mechanisms, including adaptive or maladaptive strategies (Zeidner & Saklofske 1996; Hershcovis et al. 2018). Adaptive coping strategies reduce stress, and distress in particular. However, while maladaptive coping strategies may reduce (dis)stress in the short-run, they tend to raise it long-term. For example, consumers may end up feeling exhausted as a result of their excessive (endogenous) brand-related dissonance. While CE is likely impacted by consumer-perceived brand/firm-related stress and their associated coping strategies, these relationships remain under-explored and thus warrant further investigation.

This Special Issue will address the interplay between consumer-perceived brand/firm-related eustress and/or distress as triggered by endogenous or exogenous sources, consumer coping strategies, and CE. Conceptual, methodological, qualitative, or quantitative contributions that offer insight in this area are welcome.
Special Issue papers may focus on topics including, but not limited to, the following:
• To what extent do specific endogenous/exogenous sources induce consumer-perceived stress, and how do these affect the way consumers engage with brands/firms?
• Do firm-based consumer coproduction/cocreation expectations or questionable ethical practices (e.g., undisclosed or changing fees) incur consumer stress and how does this impact CE through the customer journey?
• Which factors drive consumer-perceived eustress and distress and how do they affect cognitive, emotional, and/or behavioral CE?
• Do endogenously and exogenously-generated consumer eustress and distress appear as antecedents or consequences of CE?
• To what extent can consumer-perceived eustress (distress) generate adverse (favorable) consequences for consumers, respectively (Clark et al. 2020)?
• How do different digital and non-digital platforms affect CE and consumer-perceived eustress and distress? For example, do service robots help reduce consumer-perceived stress by facilitating task completion, or might their perceived complex nature amplify (dis)stress?
• What factors may trigger eustress to turn into distress (or vice versa)? What are the respective effects of these stress valence swings on CE?
• Which coping mechanisms do consumers use to avert, neutralize, or deal with endogenously/exogenously-generated eustress and distress and how do these impact CE?
• (How) do consumer self-efficacy or self-regulation mediate or moderate the CE/stress interface?
• How do adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies affect CE in particular contexts?
• In what contexts do consumers engage in coping strategies that become maladaptive over time?
• How are offerings best designed to curtail consumer distress and leverage eustress, while optimizing CE?
• To what extent does consumers’ expected product/service -related (dis)stress affect their decision to engage with (or continue engaging with) particular companies or offerings?
• To what extent does consumer-perceived stress yield disengaged- or switching behavior?

All manuscripts that address these and/or related issues will be considered by the Special Issue Guest Editors, Linda D Hollebeek, David E Sprott, and Wafa Hammedi. All manuscripts must conform to Psychology & Marketing’s author guidelines. Manuscripts must be submitted through the Psychology & Marketing website. When submitting your manuscript, please address your cover letter to Professor Charles Hofacker, Psychology & Marketing Special Issues Editor, and note in your cover letter that your manuscript is being submitted to the “Consumer Engagement & Stress” Special Issue. The closing date for manuscript submissions is February 28, 2022.

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