Academic journal article Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior

Satisfaction, Regret, and Status Quo Effects on the Formation of Consumer Loyalty

Academic journal article Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior

Satisfaction, Regret, and Status Quo Effects on the Formation of Consumer Loyalty

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Consumer loyalty continues to be an important marketing consideration. A model of consumer loyalty is proposed that furthers efforts to model satisfaction-based explanations of consumer loyalty formation within emerging goaldirected, attitude-based models of judgment and decision making. The results of an empirical study support the proposed model of the process of loyalty formation, yielding benefits that include (1) helping to reconcile loyalty explanations with models of judgment and decision making; (2) contributing to identifying the unique roles of anticipated regret, anticipated emotions generally, and satisfaction judgments in the process; (3) demonstrating the need to consider status quo effects as a moderator to loyalty formation; and (4) suggesting the possibility of status quo effects influencing the role of many other concepts in explanations of loyalty formation. The managerial and research implications of the reported study are explicated and discussed.

INTRODUCTION

Consumer loyalty continues to represent an important area of marketing inquiry (Oliver 1999, 2010; Evanschitzky and Wunderlick 2006; Taylor et al. 2006; Gentry and Kalliny 2008; Han et al. 2008). A study is reported that considers how the decision to be loyal to an automobile insurer following a "poor" service experience forms in terms of satisfaction and more general attitudebased social psychological and judgment and decision making (J/DM) theories. First, existing theories of the formation of loyalty behaviors to services are briefly reviewed. This review suggests that while models of loyalty intention formation should recognize both cognitive and affective influences, many existing conceptualizations fail to explicitly recognize and/or differentiate such influences. An alternative perspective linked more explicitly to social psychology and J/DM theories is advocated for marketers that purports to better capture and differentiate cognitive and affective antecedents in the formation of loyalty behaviors. Second, an argument is presented for hypothesizing the wellknown status quo effect as a potential moderating influence on such processes. Third, the methods and results of a study to test the hypotheses derived from the theoretical arguments are presented. Finally, the managerial and research implications of the study results are explicated and considered.

THEORY

Oliver (1999, p. 34) provides a constitutive definition of loyalty as, "...a deeply held commitment to rebuy or repatronize a preferred product/service consistently in the future, thereby causing repetitive same-brand or same brand-set purchasing, despite (italics not added) situational influences and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior." Oliver further concurs that it is unwise to infer loyalty specifically from repetitive purchase patterns (behaviors), instead calling for the assessment of consumer beliefs, affect, and intention within the context of traditional consumer attitude structures. Oliver (1999) envisions four stages of loyalty related to attitude dimensions (cognitive, affective, conative, and action), and argues that consumers can be loyal at each phase relating to different elements of the attitude development structure. In addition, different factors can influence each loyalty phase. Key to Oliver's arguments is the notion of fortitude, defined as the degree to which consumers fight off competitive overtures on the basis of their allegiance to the brand and not on the basis of marketer-generated information. The current study builds upon this perspective through the lens of emerging J/DM and attitude theories.

Oliver's (1999) conceptualization of loyalty has started to receive empirical validation. For example, Harris and Goode (2004) provide empirical evidence supporting Oliver's (1999) four stage loyalty conceptualization (i.e., cognitive loyalty -> affective loyalty -> conative loyalty -> action loyalty) and suggest the importance of trust within the process. …

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