Driving Factors Behind Consumer Satisfaction: A Comparative Study on Chinese and Foreign Supermarkets in China

Article excerpt

[Abstract]

This article studies the differences in factors that affect customer satisfaction and loyalty to the local and the foreign supermarkets in China. With the structural equation modeling method and the data collected from 20 large supermarkets based in China, we find that there exist differences in factors influencing consumer satisfaction and loyalty with regard to Chinese or foreign supermarkets. Post-purchase service shows greater influence upon satisfaction for foreign supermarkets and in-store goods also have greater impact upon loyalty. For Chinese supermarkets, store infrastructure contributes more to loyalty than for foreign supermarkets.

[Keyword] Customer satisfaction; comparative study of retailers; structural equation model

Introduction

With the entry of foreign retailing giants into China, such as Carrefour and Wal-Mart, retailing is becoming a battleground of fierce competition between Chinese and foreign companies. In order to make an objective assessment on the competitive advantage from the perspective of consumers, we find that the customer satisfaction is a key measure of the retailers' performance. In China, some scholars have tried to make empirical studies of the actual situation of customer satisfaction with retailers. With the data of large supermarkets in Wuhan, investigation was conducted with customer satisfaction index model in the theoretical framework of satisfaction index (Liu, Yang, Liu and Wan, 2004). The Jiangsu Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision (JAQTS) conducted a survey about the customer satisfaction with 19 large and middle-sized department stores in 12 cities in Jiangsu province (Huo, 2003). Based on the data by JAQTS, many researchers carried out empirical studies about the customer satisfaction with a given store (Jia and Yan, 2002). China Retailing Research Center (CRR) of Tsinghua University described the overall situation of customer satisfaction with 20 large-sized grocery supermarkets in China (Wang, Li and Lu, 2006).

However, the focus of these studies is either on the measurement scale development of customer satisfaction with retailers or differences of customer satisfaction with different kinds of retailers. It remains to be explored whether the driving forces of customer satisfaction vary with retailers from different countries. Based on the prior research findings, the purpose of this article is to find out if there exist statistical differences between the national and foreign supermarkets about the factors that influence customer satisfaction and loyalty from the perspective of consumers in China.

Literature Review

Since Cardozo (1965) brought the concept of customer satisfaction into the field of marketing, customer satisfaction has attracted increasing attention from academicians and practitioners around the world. Studies of the customer satisfaction with retailers have also been prosperous with the development of customer satisfaction measurement models, such as customer satisfaction measurement based on the theory of service quality (Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry, 1985, 1988; Parasuraman, Berry and Zeithaml, 1991) and customer satisfaction measurement of retailing companies from macro perspectives (Johnson and Fornell, 1991; Fornell, 1992; Fornell, Johnson, Anderson, Cha and Bryant, 1996). However, little study has been discovered about the different factors that influence customer satisfaction with the supermarkets of different natures, especially in the context of China, by comparatively studying the differences between national and foreign companies.

Within the limited numbers of studies in China, some studies compare the positioning point of Wal-Mart and Carrefour in China, and some test the adaptability of Crawford and Mathews's findings in China (Li, Liu and Wu, 2006). Other studies indicate that the evaluation scores of foreign supermarkets are superior to those of local supermarkets in almost all of customer satisfaction criteria (Wang, Li and Lu, 2006). …