A Fundamental Paradox of Proactive Relational Branding and Critical Consumer Culture
Guided by a general curiosity towards consumers‟ responses to proactive relational branding, the study explores a fundamental paradox sofar disregarded in the brand relationship literature, namely the intersection between brands that facilitates deep and committed relationship with as well as between consumers and a consumer culture increasingly marked by reluctance and scepticism towards the marketplace and its commercial actors. The study empirically explores consumer experiences related to the interactive Nike+ concept launched by Nike for the tracking of running exercise. The study shows that consumers remain critical toward the Nike+ initiative as an emotional partner as well as a social interaction builder. This consumer resistance endures in spite of Nike fulfills the criteria for relationship building set forth in the literature.