Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Do Salespeople's In-Role and Extrarole Brand-Building Behaviors Contribute to Customer Loyalty Transfer?

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Do Salespeople's In-Role and Extrarole Brand-Building Behaviors Contribute to Customer Loyalty Transfer?

Article excerpt

We examined how, and under what conditions, a customer's loyalty to a specific salesperson (personal loyalty) can transfer over to loyalty to the firm. Participants were 900 salesperson- customer dyads who completed a paired questionnaire. We hypothesized that customer loyalty toward individuals would have a positive influence on firm loyalty. Specifically, we reasoned that the loyalty transfer process would be strengthened by salespeople's in-role and extrarole brand-building behavior (IRBBB and ERBBB). We tested our theoretical model in the context of the Chinese direct-selling industry, using the Amway organization as our research case. Our findings suggest that both IRBBB and ERBBB have a general moderating effect on the relationship between personal loyalty and firm loyalty. Compared with ERBBB, IRBBB had a stronger moderating role in the relationship between customer loyalty to the salesperson and loyalty to the firm. Our findings advance the extant marketing literature on customer loyalty and we offer suggestions for ways to incorporate this knowledge into managerial strategies and practice.

Keywords: personal loyalty, firm loyalty, customer loyalty transfer, in-role brand-building behavior, extrarole brand-building behavior.

Selling firms and salespeople employ strategies aimed at enhancing customer loyalty (Palmatier, Scheer, Houston, Evans, & Gopalakrishna, 2007; Yim, Tse, & Chan, 2008). Some customer loyalty researchers have adopted a multifocused perspective to investigate customers' concurrent, or multifocal, loyalties to both the selling firm and to the salesperson (Palmatier, Houston, Dant, & Grewal, 2013). Customer loyalty to the selling firm refers to customers' "intention to perform a diverse set of behaviors that signal a motivation to maintain a relationship with the focal firm" (Sirdeshmukh, Singh, & Sabol, 2002, p. 20). It reflects a customer's relationship with a specific target (an employee, a brand, or a firm) that involves a psychological state (such as preference or attachment), cognitive attitude (evaluation), and behavioral intentions (e.g., to maintain the relationship, or to recommend products to others). Salesperson-owned loyalty (personal loyalty) is "customers' intention to perform behaviors that signal the motivation to maintain a relationship specifically with the focal salesperson" (Palmatier et al., 2007, p. 186). Both the selling firm and the salesperson engage in relationship-enhancing activities to secure customer loyalty (Palmatier et al., 2013). Staffmembers who have contact with customers constitute a critical link between customers and firms. It is, therefore, important to understand what that link is and how to strengthen it. However, to date no attempt has been made to determine how, and under what conditions, customer loyalty to one referent transfers to, or converges with, another referent.

With regard to strengthening the link, one assumption in the context of making connections between the firm and other entities (boundary spanning) is that a spanner is generally viewed as an agent of the firm - a condition that actually varies according to the firm's entitativity. According to social judgment theory (O'Laughlin & Malle, 2002), people apply different informationprocessing strategies based on the expected entitativity of individuals versus groups. Therefore, when employees act as brand ambassadors (Vallaster & de Chernatony, 2006) or brand builders (Morhart, Herzog, & Tomczak, 2009), they enhance customers' perceptions of entitativity and create affective bonds between the customer and the firm and brand. Customers are, therefore, likely to attribute employees' relational behaviors to the firm. In other words, employee brand-building behaviors can be catalysts in the customer loyalty transfer process.

Because this is so, our examination of how the loyalty transfer process can be strengthened by salespersons' in-role brand-building behavior (IRBBB) and extrarole brand-building behavior (ERBBB) in the Chinese direct-selling context, is relevant and illuminating for the study of customer loyalty as a whole. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.