Bilbliometric analysis is an interesting way to study a field. It is more objective than a traditional literature review type analysis. Through citations we can see what papers were especially influential in the field. We are making the, not outrageous, assumption that more influential papers are cited more. It is particularly appropriate for fields with a lot of literature. Brand relationships certainly have a lot of literature giving Marc Fetscherin and Daniel Heinrich plenty of papers to look at, tabulate which were the most influential, and see the relationships between them.
These authors sell their choice of analysis as follows: “Bilbiometric analysis unveils pivotal articles and objectively illustrates the linkages between and among articles about a certain research topic or filed by analyzing how many times they have been co-cited by other published articles.” (Fetscherin and Heinrich, 2015, page 381).
They identify seven broad categories of study within brand relationships, from ‘relationships between various consumer brand relationship constructs’ to ‘storytelling and brand relationships’. Their figure illustrating the relationships and key papers over time is a lot of fun even if it is somewhat intimidating with a ridiculous amount of circles and arrows.
They look at where the papers have been published. Mostly business/management unsurprisingly, with a smattering of others, e.g., psychology. The Journal of Consumer Research being the top outlet for such work.
They also show what institutions have produced the work, with Vanderbilt and the University of Wisconsin getting top spots depending on whether you care most about volume of papers or total citations.
Overall I think such analysis can be very interesting. They are certainly a great project for students seeking to understand a field. One can get into deeper conversations about what exactly is influence and why do people cite etc… but analyzing citations are still a nice easy way to start any review.
Read: Marc Fetscherin and Daniel Heinrich (2015) Consumer Brand relationships research: A Bibliometric Citation Analysis, Journal of Business Research, 68(2), pages 380-390