Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Does Satisfaction Affect a Member's Psychological Commitment to a Fitness Center?

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Does Satisfaction Affect a Member's Psychological Commitment to a Fitness Center?

Article excerpt

Introduction

Although evidence exist that the fitness industry is worldwide a rather growing sector (European Commission, 2004; Gerson, 1999; Lagrosen & Lagrosen, 2007; Tawse & Keogh, 1998), there are indications that its services management, especially the management of customer relations, is quite deficient (Hurley, 2004). Fitness services require physical interaction between the customer and the management/employees and its operations are both complex and distinctive (Chang & Chelladurai, 2003; Chelladurai, Scott & Heywood- Farmer, 1987; Lagrosen & Lagrosen, 2007). The reason for this is that it is more than difficult to standardize its services, such as aerobic classes, personal training programs, and fitness consultancy. Hence, the unique characteristics of services in general such as intangibility, heterogeneity and perishability, are particularly applicable in the fitness sector (Alexandris, Dimitriadis & Kasiara, 2001).

Research in this area is moreover important for despite the industry's size and services offered, health and fitness clubs suffer from low retention rates (Alexandris, Zahariadis, Tsorbatzoudis & Grouios, 2004; Gerson, 1999; Sawyer & Smith, 1998). As Rintjema (1998) declared, the fitness industry is one area of recreation that lias traditionally been associated with high customer turnover. Cliaet (1994) stated that a fitness center is doing well if it has an attrition rate of only 11-16%. Using this figure, a club that has 1000 members would be losing 110-160 members per year due to reasons other than moves, injuries or deaths. Cliaet (1994) further argued that the cost of membership retention can only be as little as half the cost spent in order for the club to attract new members. All these illustrate the importance of membership retention to fitness centers and the need for a systematic and ongoing research in this area.

In order for this research to be integrated, the demographic characteristics of the fitness clubs' members are also important to be recorded and understood, as practice indicates that they seem to differentiate from one region to the other or from one fitness provider to another. In marketing literatme, previous research had laid an interest in gender differences, especially for the evaluation of service quality, and concluded that female customers tend to rate perceived quality lower that men (Lin, Chiu & Hsieh, 2001; Snipes, Thomson & Oswald, 2004; Tan & Kek, 2004), with few exceptions (Lee, Kim, Ko & Sagas, 2011).

In general, gaining new customers lias been calculated as being five to six times greater than the cost of keeping existing ones (Rosenberg & Czepiel, 1983; Schmittlein, 1996). Researchers believe that customer retention is likely to be the single biggest predictor of future profitability (Petrison, 1993; Kamakura, Wedel, deRosa & Mazzon, 2003). Elben (2000) similarly argued that companies and service providers can get a much better return by investing in existing customers than by acquiring new ones. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether satisfaction and/or non-satisfaction may be used as predictor of psychological commitment. Moreover, it aimed to investigate whether satisfaction, non satisfaction and psychological commitment to fitness services' providers may differentiate between female and male participants.

Satisfaction and Psychological commitment

As a major theme in marketing research, customer satisfaction is recognized as a key element for both managers and researchers interested in service relationships (Bodet, 2006). Theory indicates that there is a significant positive relationship between customer satisfaction and his/hers repurchase intentions and/or retention (Alexandris & Palialia, 1999; Anderson & Sullivan, 1993; Howat, Murray & Crilley, 1999; Murrey & Howat, 2002). Considering that membership dues are a major source of revenue for health clubs, member retention is critical for financial viability (Lam, Zhang & Jensen, 2005; Reichheld & Sasser, 1990; Sawyer & Smith, 1999). …

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