Empirical Researches of Relationship Marketing: the Role in Foreign Countries
This article emphasizes the importance of empirical researches of relationship marketing, their theoretical and methodological validity, and summarizes the experience of foreign and Lithuanian researchers in this field. It also shows the evolution of the definition of relationship marketing. There is a great number of empirical researches, which require developing a generalized approach to their theoretical validity, the adequacy of applied methods, and possibility of their practical use. This study is carried out in order to evaluate the importance of researches made by Western countries’ scientists in the last two decades, to systematize different approaches to customer loyalty problems, and review the newest works of Lithuanian researchers dedicated to various aspects of relationship marketing. It can be deduced that the concept of relationship marketing has evolved under the influence of separate scientific researches. Different purposes and aspects of these studies were the reason of various relationship marketing concepts. In practise it determines the fact that relationship marketing means different things to different companies. Relationship marketing is a form of marketing, in which emphasis is placed on building longer term relationships with customers rather than on individual transactions. It involves understanding the customers’ needs as they go through their life cycles. It emphasizes providing a range of products or services to existing customers as they need them. Relationship marketing can be analysed on both - micro and macro levels. Macro level is concentrated on the analysis of the role that relationship marketing plays to customers, personnel, providers, reference groups, intermediates (agents, brokers, etc.), and domestic markets. On micro level relationship marketing is considered a transition of marketing orientation – from single transactions with different customers to establishment and development of relations with the most important customers. Relationship marketing looks at customers and clients over a longer term. At the core of relationship marketing is the notion of customer retention – it takes into account the lifetime value of a customer. An improvement in customer retention can cause an increase in profitability. Relationship marketing involves the creation of new and mutual value between a supplier and individual customer. Novelty and mutuality deepen, extend and prolong relationships, creating yet more opportunities for customer and supplier to benefit one another. Nonetheless, it can be deduced that researches dedicated to relationship marketing are still in their primary stage in Lithuania. They are carried out in the context of other research objects. These researches concentrate on various aspects of relationship marketing and they lack systematic approach. A major part of such theories are not tested by neither quantitative nor qualitative research methods. It is characteristic of most Lithuanian concepts of relationship marketing. Meanwhile, euro-integration results in increased competition and new possibilities that force Lithuanian companies to improve their marketing activities. One of ways to achieve that involves the evaluation and adaptation of one of the most advanced marketing forms – relationship marketing.