Relationship marketing defined? An examination of current relationship marketing definitions

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Attempts to define “relationship marketing” have been varied and many, neatly reflecting the diverse academic and socio-political backgrounds of RM scholars. This paper lists 26 such definitions, collected as a by-product of a literature review. Presented alongside this resource are the results of applying a content- analysis-based methodology to these definitions. These results suggest that seven RM “con- structs” enjoy general support. In a discussion of this, it is con- cluded that any integration of disparate RM theories implied by these findings is at best superfi- cial and at worst misleading. It is further suggested that “true” and complete integration of RM theory must wait until a coherent under- standing of these fundamental concepts has been developed. From the 26 definitions listed, one is judged as being more compre- hensive and generally acceptable, and a new definition is presented as an inducement to further discussion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalMarketing Intelligence and Planning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999


  • marketing concept
  • marketing research
  • marketing theory
  • relationship marketing


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