Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Consumer Marketing Orientations: Does Your Customer Want a Relationship?

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Consumer Marketing Orientations: Does Your Customer Want a Relationship?

Article excerpt

PURPOSE OF STUDY

In this study consumer orientations ranging from transactional to relational are explored. The consumer referred to in this study is what Stern (1997, p.3) calls the 'personal consumer' as opposed to the business-to-business customer. The purpose of this study is to aid firms in determining their consumers' orientations prior to deciding whether to engage in transactional marketing or relationship marketing. The constructs necessary for these strategies are defined, and their relationships to the proposed marketing strategies are discussed. This study is based on the assumption that consumers' orientations differ, and range from transactional to relational.

Not all consumers desire a relationship with a firm, and it is not necessary for a firm to engage in long-term relationship building with all of its consumers. Rosenfield (1999) suggests that consumers could conceivably become alienated by a firm's attempt to force relationships upon them by use of inappropriate marketing strategies. This paper also assumes that consumers require different levels of relationships with different firms, depending on the service provided by a particular firm. In Relationship Marketing Gordon (1988) argues that he has different relationship expectations when buying detergent from Procter and Gamble than he does when purchasing a car from Ford. In reference to Procter and Gamble he expects a detergent that will clean clothes at a fair price. With Ford, he has a higher set of expectations, including product features and service tailored to fit his needs. A firm must understand the relationship in the context of its consumers' expectations in order to implement an appropriate marketing strategy.

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF MODEL

The model shown in figure 1 is designed to help determine consumers receptiveness to relationship marketing. The constructs used in this model include involvement, satisfaction, trust and commitment. Involvement is effective in predicting short-term use of a service provider. This study hypothesizes that a consumer with a high level of enduring involvement will be more responsive to relationship marketing. The literature points out that some degree of underlying satisfaction must be present in order for a consumer to engage in a continued relationship with a service provider. However this study suggests that given this basic level of satisfaction, a consumer concerned solely with obtaining higher levels of satisfaction is more likely to have a transactional orientation, whereas a consumer who puts more emphasis on trust will have a relational orientation. Additionally, the literature links trust to commitment (Cox, 1995; Morgan and Hunt, 1994). Based on this information , it is hypothesized that a consumer who rates overall trust as an important factor in a provider relationship will be more prone to psychologically commit to doing repeat business with a service provider and will be more receptive to relationship marketing.

RELATIONSHIP MARKETING

Relationship marketing is gaining support in this new era of marketing and technology. Firms realize that customers can no longer be easily segmented; customers must instead be considered on an individual basis. Relationship marketing helps foster this focus on the individual consumer by creating value specific to the individual (Gordon, 1998, p.9). The objective of relationship marketing is to create long-term profitable relationships with a firm's customer base. This is accomplished through an open line of one-to-one communication between representatives of the firm and the customer. There are several preconditions that should exist for relationship marketing to be beneficial to both the firm and the consumer. These preconditions require that each customer desires a unique solution, perceives this as having a value, and desires an ongoing relationship with the firm. It is also necessary that the firm be able to profit from providing this solution through higher prices and be capable of accommodating its customers' preferences. …

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