Fournier Paper Wins Rare Acclaim

in Faculty, Marketing, News, Press Release, School
October 25th, 2011

Branding Article Cited for Impact and Longevity

Susan FournierAssociate Professor of Marketing and Dean’s Research Fellow Susan Fournier received one of the world’s most prestigious marketing awards in October at the annual meeting of the Association for Consumer Research (ACR) Conference in St Louis.

Fournier received ACR’s Long-Term Contribution to Consumer Research Award, granted for her 1998 article, “Consumers and their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research,” Journal of Consumer Research, 24 (March), 343-373.

The rare award honors the long-term contribution of an article—papers must be ten years old or older—that appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research, the field’s premier research journal.

The president-elect of the association convenes a five-person task force including him/herself and four past presidents to determine the article with the greatest contribution to the field from the eligibility pool. (This year, there were 1139 eligible articles published between the Journal’s founding, in 1974, and 2001.) After discussion, review of pertinent data, and debate, the task force may decide that no award will be given.

“Professor Fournier’s article has had an enormous impact on the field of consumer research.

–Jeff Inman, Chair, 2011 Selection Committee, Long-Term Contribution to Consumer Research Award

Fournier is only the fourth person so honored.

Her particular achievement is distinct in several ways. She is the first female to receive the award. She is the first recipient to receive the award for work based on a dissertation. And her paper is the “youngest” of all recipient articles, awarded the distinction in its 13th year while the others had been in circulation 21, 17, and 20 years, respectively

The selection committee noted that her article also enjoys the greatest velocity (speed and rate of pickup in citations) of any article ever published in JCR and consistently ranks at the top of the list of most-downloaded papers from the Journal website since they began tracking.

“With more than 1800 Google cites and more than 500 Web of Science citations, Professor Fournier’s article has had an enormous impact on the field of consumer research,” said Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Jeff Inman, of the Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh, who chaired the 2011 selection committee. “She opened the door to a new stream of research in the area of consumer relationship theory.”


“She opened the door to a new stream of research in the area of consumer relationship theory.”

–Jeff Inman, Chair, 2011 Selection Committee, Long-Term Contribution to Consumer Research Award

Fournier’s article has previously received four other awards: In published form, the Journal of Consumer Research Best Article award in 2001 and Honorable Mention for the Ferber Award for Best Published Dissertation in 1999; and, in thesis or thesis proposal form, the Marketing Science Institute Dissertation Award in 1994, and Honorable Mention, American Marketing Association Dissertation Competition in 1994.

Abstract for “Consumers and their Brands”

Although the relationship metaphor dominates contemporary marketing thought and practice, surprisingly little empirical work has been conducted on relational phenomena in the consumer products domain, particularly at the level of the brand. In this article, the author:

  1. argues for the validity of the relationship proposition in the consumer-brand context, providing theoretical evidence for the legitimacy of the brand as an active relationship partner as well as empirical support for the phenomenological significance of consumer-brand bonds;
  2. provides a framework for characterizing and better understanding the types of relationships consumers form with brands; and
  3. inducts from the data the concept of brand relationship quality, a diagnostic tool for conceptualizing and evaluating relationship strength.

Three in-depth case studies inform this agenda, their interpretation guided by an integrative review of the literature on person-to-person relationships. Insights offered through application of inducted concepts to two relevant research domains—brand loyalty and brand personality—are advanced in closing.

See more or download a copy of “Consumers and their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research” from JSTOR.