Complementary and alternative medicine : Shaping a marketing research agenda
Purpose: The paper has twin aims, one practical and one theoretical. From a practical point of view, the aim is to begin to identify appropriate marketing strategies and tactics for complementary and alternative therapists. From a theoretical point of view, the aim is to shape a research agenda for the exploration of marketing frameworks - such as service quality, consumer behaviour and relationship marketing - in the new and rather unusual context of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Design/methodology/approach: The paper reviews the literature on CAM from a UK and a US perspective and provides the findings from a small online survey of users of CAM. Findings: Initial research suggests that factors ancillary to the main therapeutic purpose of the medical treatment, particularly the level of personal care felt by the client, can have a substantial effect on client satisfaction. It is suggested that this is a sector in which marketing through relationships, networks and alliances is practised extensively and implicitly, and, therefore, that it would be a fruitful context in which to research and to apply relationship marketing principles. Originality/value: The paper develops a research agenda for further inquiry into the emerging area of business and marketing in CAM.