Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Does the Role a Pet Played before Disposition, and How the Pet Is Lost Influence Pet Owner's Future Pet Adoption Decision?

Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Does the Role a Pet Played before Disposition, and How the Pet Is Lost Influence Pet Owner's Future Pet Adoption Decision?

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of the paper is to explore how the role a pet played before disposition and how the owner lost his/her pet affect the pet owner's next pet adoption decision. Results from Pearson chi-square tests of independence show no significant relationship between how the respondent viewed his/her pet before relationship ended and the length of time he/she waited before adopting another pet. However, a significant relationship was found between how the pet owner lost his/her pet and the length of time he/she waited before adopting another pet. Respondents who said they lost their pet voluntarily were more likely to wait longer before adopting another pet than those who said they lost their pet involuntarily. Moreover, the results confirm that respondents who viewed their pet as a child, before end of relationship, were more likely to hold funeral rituals than those who viewed their pet as a friend, a family or household member. Finally, those pet owners who lost their pets and decided to adopt another pet are likely to choose a pet of the same species but different breed. Implications to theory and practice are discussed.

Keywords: consumer behavior, social marketing, pet disposition, pet adoption decision, pet shelters

1. Introduction

The disposition stage of the pet consumption experience has not received a great deal of attention in the consumer behavior literature (Aylesworth, Chapman, and Dobscha 1999). Understanding the disposition decision stage of the pet consumption experience is important in two ways. First, each year six to eight million lost and unwanted pets end up at animal shelters across the U.S. and half of those animals must be euthanized (ASCPA2012; Fournier and Geller 2004; Stephen and Brian 2009). Hence, understanding the disposition stage of the pet consumption experience may allow us to decrease the number of unwanted pets. Second, in the case of involuntary relationship termination (when the animal dies or is lost), examining the pet-human relationship before end of the relationship might be helpful in understanding its effect on future pet acquisition decisions (Aylesworth, Chapman, and Dobscha 1999; Hirsclunan 1994).

Hirsclunan (1994) discussed the various roles animals play in the lives of consumers. She explained that animals can serve as friends, family, objects and extensions of self. She provided a phenomenological evidence to support her views. This research extends Hirschman's work by exploring the influence of (a) the role the pet played in the owner's life (friend, family, objects and self) before disposition, and (b) the way the pet is lost (voluntarily or involuntarily), on the pet owner's future pet adoption decision. Quantitative empirical evidence on the pet-human relationship from the perspective of pet disposition is rather weak and often is based on descriptive case studies (Hirsclunan 1994; Stephens and Hill 1996). Thus, this research also fills part of the empirical gap. It complements the story-telling style research of Hirsclunan, Stephens and Hill, and others by providing empirical evidence. The better we understand this process, the more we can help consumers through it and increase the likelihood that they will readopt from pet shelters and pet rescue agencies.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), twenty six percent of dogs are purchased from breeders and 20-30 percent of cats and dogs are adopted from shelters and rescue agencies. Hence, our argument is consistent with the social marketing approach (Lefebvre 2011). It is based on the premise that nonprofit pet shelters and pet rescue agencies are facing competition from pet breeders. For nonprofit pet shelters and pet rescue agencies to win the competition, they need to understand the needs of their customers (Day 1994; Görke 2003; Kara Spillan, and DeShields Jr. 2004) and cater to them accordingly. Thus, to explore the role a pet played before relationship termination and the way a pet is lost on the future pet adoption decision of the pet owner, this study adopts consumer behavior from the marketing literature. …

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