Loyalty or Liability: Resolving the Consumer Fanaticism Paradox

Emily Chung, Francis Farrelly, Michael B. Beverland, Ingo O. Karpen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


“Fanaticism” and its cognates, “fan” and “fanatic,” have been defined in inconsistent, contradictory, and often, nondiscriminant ways across disciplines. Due to these problematic conceptualizations, and particularly the mixed yet growing state of the literature in marketing, there is a need to revisit the phenomenon. Through a comprehensive review and synthesis of the existing literature, this article identifies the key defining characteristics of consumer fanaticism (i.e. “affective commitment” and “extraordinary pursuit”) and presents a typology (consisting of four types of fanaticism, i.e. rewarding, destructive, stigmatized, and rogue) to demonstrate the socially situated and subjective nature of the fanatic label. In doing so, the authors advance current theorizing on this topic by explaining and resolving the conflicting and paradoxical perspectives that currently exist in the literature. The authors also present a framework that distinguishes consumer fanaticism from other forms of consumption. They propose a research agenda for future studies of consumer fanaticism and demonstrate its strong potential to contribute fresh insights into other marketing phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-30
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: May 3, 2017


  • Commitment
  • Devotion
  • Enthusiasm
  • Fanatic
  • Fanaticism
  • Loyalty
  • Passion

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