Edited by Russell W. Belk
Cele C. Otnes, Julie A. Ruth, Tina M. Lowrey and Suraj Commuri Imagine if researchers interested in studying consumption- and marketing-related phenomena could do so at only one point in time. Certainly our understanding of concepts such as brand loyalty, consumer socialization, consumers’ relationships with brands and the eﬀects of advertising and marketing on brand image would be minimal – if we recognized they existed at all. Simply put, marketing researchers must be able to study phenomena both over time (during extended, continuous periods so the lifeworlds of consumers, practitioners and/or marketing organizations can be understood) and across time (at diﬀerent points in time, even those occurring before a study begins). Focusing on the temporal aspects of consumption and marketing enables researchers to make inductively-based inferences about the ways people begin, maintain and end relationships with goods, services, retailers, service providers and other foci of interest – and importantly, how these relationships change over time. Furthermore methods that enable researchers to ‘go back in time’ and make inferences about the past and the present can help them understand whether and how the psychological, sociological and cultural entities that shape informants’ lives have inﬂuenced, or continue to inﬂuence, interactions with marketplace-related phenomena. In this chapter we examine the longitudinal and retrospective qualitative techniques that marketing researchers can use when they wish to generate thick descriptions of human behavior. We begin by deﬁning and comparing these research approaches, and describe their potential contributions and limitations. We then examine how...
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