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The Importance of Consumer Market Interactions as a Form of Social Support for Elderly Consumers

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Abstract

Elderly consumers are often without adequate social support. Shopping habits may have significant implications for these consumers' mental and physical welfare. When shopping is seen, at least partly, as a social activity, consumer-market interactions become a widely available substitute for true or traditional social support. By introducing the century-old social support literature and integrating it with more recent consumer behavior and relationship marketing literature, the authors propose a conceptual framework that delineates the consumer health implications of shopping behavior. On the basis of this diverse literature, they propose several testable propositions. Additionally, they discuss public policy implications and future research directions.
The Importance of Consumer Market Interactions as a Form of Social Support for Elderly
Consumers
Author(s): Yong-Soon Kang and Nancy M. Ridgway
Source:
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing,
Vol. 15, No. 1, Nutrition and Health (Spring,
1996), pp. 108-117
Published by: American Marketing Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30000340 .
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The
Importance
of
Consumer
Market
Interactions
as
a
Form
of
Social
Support
for
Elderly
Consumers
Yong-Soon
Kang
and
Nancy
M.
Ridgway
Elderly
consumers are
often
without
adequate
social
support. Shopping
habits
may
have
significant implications for
these
consumers'
mental and
physical
welfare.
When
shopping
is
seen,
at
least
partly,
as a
social
activity,
consumer-market
interactions
become
a
widely
available substitute
for
true or
traditional social
support. By
introducing
the
century-old
social
support
literature and
integrating
it with
more recent
consumer behavior and
relationship
marketing
literature,
the authors
propose
a
conceptual framework
that
delineates the consumer health
implications of
shopping
behavior. On the
basis
of
this
diverse
literature,
they
propose
several testable
propositions.
Additionally,
they
discuss
public policy implications
and
future
research directions.
We
exchange
courtesies, smiles,
the time of
day,
and
so
on with
the clerk in
the store at the same
time
we
exchange
money
for
commodities.
-Kenneth
E.
Boulding,
Economics
as a Science
Suppose
there are four
elderly
consumers who
are
iden-
tical
except
for the levels of their
existing
social
sup-
port
(i.e.,
ties, contacts,
or
relationships
with
spouse,
family,
relatives,
and
friends)
and
their
consumption
behav-
ior
patterns.
Suppose
both Consumers
A
and B have several
family
members who live
with
them and
many
friends
nearby
(i.e.,
high
social
support),
whereas Consumers C and
D
live
alone
and do not have extensive
social contacts
(i.e.,
low
social
support).
Furthermore,
Consumers
A
and C are
frequent "mall-goers"; they
enjoy shopping trips primarily
because
they
enjoy interacting
with
the sales
clerks,
service
agents,
and fellow
shoppers
(i.e.,
high
market
interaction).
On
the other
hand,
Consumers B and
D
choose
not to
engage
in
such
marketplace
interactions.
They
prefer
to
buy through
mail-order,
and their
shopping trips
tend to be shorter
in time
than
those
of
Consumers
A
and C.
We
can characterize Con-
sumers B and D
as
"mail-shoppers"
(i.e.,
low
market
inter-
action).
The
following
table
summarizes these data:
High
Social
Low
Social
Support Support
High
Market
Interaction
Consumer
A
Consumer C
Low
Market
Interaction Consumer
B
Consumer
D
We
explore
the
health
consequences
of the
differential
shopping patterns
for these
elderly
consumers, who,
by
assumption,
have the same level of
income,
consumption
spending,
and
physical
mobility. By
excluding consumption
behavior for the
moment,
we
note that
according
to social
support
literature
(e.g.,
Barrera
1986;
House,
Landis,
and
Umberson
1988),
Consumers A
and
B
(with
high
social
sup-
port)
are
predicted
to be healthier
(mentally
and
physically)
than
Consumers C and D
(with
low
social
support). By
extending
the social
support
literature and
incorporating
it
with
recent
consumer behavior and
marketing
research
liter-
ature,
we
additionally
predict
that
market
interaction
is
pos-
itively
related to consumer
health
(i.e.,
A is
healthier than B
and C is healthier
than
D).
Hence,
we
posit
that,
knowingly
or
unknowingly,
many
marketers
provide
the
important
fringe
benefit of social
support
for vulnerable
elderly
cus-
tomers who would
otherwise be
more
socially
isolated.
The
existing
social
support
literature
has not considered a
person's
interaction
with commercial environments such as
shopping
malls as a form of or substitute for social
support.
At the same
time,
consumer researchers have
paid
scant
attention
to
this
potentially important question
of the con-
sumer health and welfare
implications
of
market
relation-
ships.
Generally,
consumer researchers
fail
to
recognize
the
emerging
body
of
interdisciplinary
knowledge
on
interper-
sonal
stress
and social
support,
which
we discuss
subse-
quently
in
some detail.1
An
exception
is
the literature
on
retail-patronage
behav-
ior. For
example,
Bloch,
Ridgway,
and
Nelson
(1991)
acknowledge
that
many people
use
shopping
as a form of
recreation.
They
note that
"shopping
malls are
also
hos-
pitable
to
people
who are alone"
by providing
social contact
(p.
446).
In
addition,
other researchers characterize
certain
consumers as recreational
shoppers
and
discuss
the social
aspects
of
shopping
malls
(Bellenger
and
Korgaonkar
1980;
see also
Feinberg
et al.
1989;
Forman and
Sriram
1991;
Westbrook
and Black
1985).
Although
these
researchers did
YONG-SOON
KANG
is a
research
associate,
Interdisciplinary
Telecommunications
Program, College
of
Engineering
and
Applied
Science
and
NANCY M. RIDGWAY is an associate
professor,
Department
of
Marketing,
College
of Business
and
Administra-
tion,
University
of Colorado.
The authors
thank
Megan
A.
Lewis,
Psychology
Department,
University
of
Colorado,
for her
helpful
comments on an earlier draft of
this
manuscript,
as
well as three
anonymous
JPP&M
reviewers
and Ron
Hill for
their
constructive
comments
during
the review
process.
Ronald
P. Hill
served
as edi-
tor for
this
article.
'House,
Landis,
and Umberson
(1988,
p.
541)
observe that "The
study
of
social
relationships
and health
was revitalized in the middle 1970s
by
the
emergence
of a
seemingly
new field
of scientific
research
on 'social
support.'"
108
Journal
of
Public
Policy
& Marketing
Vol.
15
(1)
Spring
1996,
108-117
This content downloaded from 141.166.41.149 on Wed, 3 Dec 2014 08:27:44 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Journal
of
Public
Policy
&
Marketing
109
not
examine
the health
consequences
of such recreational
shopping
behavior,
their
positions
are consistent
with
ours,
because
leisure and recreational
activities have been
shown
to have
positive
health
consequences
(see,
e.g.,
Coleman
and
Iso-Ahola
1993).
We
introduce the
major
theories
of
social
support
and our
particular
focus
on vulnerable
elderly
consumers
and then
discuss consumer-market
interaction
as a form of social
sup-
port. Using
these
theories,
we
suggest
testable
propositions
that
are relevant
to
marketing,
consumer
research,
and
health
psychology.
This
is
followed
by
a discussion of the
negative aspects
of market-based
social
support.
We
con-
clude with
public
policy
suggestions
and directions
for
fur-
ther
research.
Social
Support
and
Integration
The
study
of the
relationship
between social
support
and
health
(or
mortality)
was started
by
the French
sociologist,
Emile
Durkheim
(1897/1951),
and furthered
by
empirical
sociologists, epidemiologists, community
mental health
professionals,
and
clinical
psychologists.
More
recently,
cognitive
and
social
psychologists
have
joined
this interdis-
ciplinary topic
(Gatchel
and Baum
1983).
A
plethora
of
dif-
ferent
terminology
and
approaches
exist,
each
representing
the various
disciplines.
Our discussion draws
primarily
on
the
psychologist's
research
tradition
(i.e.,
health
psychology).
An
Overview
of
Social
Support
Literature
In a
recent
review,
House, Landis,
and
Umberson
(1988,
p.
540)
state,
"More
socially
isolated
or
less
socially
integrated
individuals are
less
healthy,
psychologically
and
physically,
and more
likely
to
die."
Other authors who have reviewed
the literature also
agree
that there
is
a substantial amount of
evidence
for a close
correlation
between social
support
and
well-being (e.g.,
Barrera
1986;
Hughes
and
Gove
1981;
Kennedy,
Kiecolt-Glaser,
and Glaser
1990;
Rook
1984).
For
example,
according
to
Cohen
and Wills
(1985,
p.
351),
"It
is
clear
from
the
present
review that embeddedness
in a
social
network
and social
resources that
are
responsive
to stressful
events have
beneficial effects on
well-being."
Specifically,
social
support
and social
relationships
have
positive
effects
(both
in
terms of
mortality
and
coping)
on breast
cancer,
heart
disease,
hypertension,
and cholesterol level
(Berkman
and
Syme
1979;
Bloom and
Spiegel
1984;
Kaplan
1988;
Krantz,
DeQuattro,
and
Blackburn
1987;
Ornish
1990).
Ani-
mal research has
also shown
that the
presence
of familiar
members of the same
species
buffers
the
impact
of
experi-
mentally
induced stress on
ulcers,
hypertension,
and
neuro-
sis
(Cassel
1976).
Weighing
the accumulated
evidence,
House,
Landis,
and Umberson
(1988,
p.
544)
conclude,
It is
clear that
biology
and
personality
must and do affect
both
people's
health
and the
quantity
and
quality
of their social
rela-
tionships.
Research has established that such
factors do
not,
however,
explain
away
the
experimental,
cross-sectional,
and
prospective
evidence
linking
social
relationships
to health....
Social
relationships
have a
predictive, arguably
causal,
associa-
tion with
health in their own
right.
At the
most
general
level,
the various health
psychology
literature can be
shown
on a
single
framework
(see
Figure
Figure
1.
Social
Support
and Health: An
Integrated
Conceptual
Framework
Support
&
Integration
+
Mental
Well-Being
+
-
Social
Ties,
Inter-
actions,
and
Relation-
ships
-
Obligations
&
Conflicts
+
Psychological
Distress
-
Physical
Health
+
+
Control
&
Constraints
-
Hazardous
Behavior
-
1).
The
conceptual
framework is an
attempt
to
integrate
the
hypotheses
of
several
important empirical
studies in this
domain
(i.e.,
Hughes
and Gove
1981;
Rook
1984;
Rook,
Thuras,
and Lewis
1990;
Umberson
1987).
We first intro-
duce
the
conceptual
framework and then the
operationaliza-
tion of
variables
in
the model.2
Reflecting
the
hypotheses
of the aforementioned
empiri-
cal studies and the
conceptual
frameworks
of
House,
Umberson,
and Landis
(1988)
and Rook and
Pietromonaco
(1987),
there are three
major consequences
of social
rela-
tionships:
social
support
and
integration,
social
obligations
and
conflicts,
and
social control and constraints.
We focus
primarily
on
the
positive
effects of social ties
(see
bold lines
in the
upper part
of
Figure
1),
while
acknowledging
that
these
relationships
also entail
negative
consequences
(Rook
1984,
1992;
Rook
and
Pietromonaco
1987).
The
right-hand
side of
Figure
1
shows the most common
dependent
variables studied
(i.e.,
mental
well-being,
psy-
chological
distress,
hazardous
behavior,
and
physical
health)
and a
hypothesized
structure
among
them. Social
support
and
integration
is
positively
related to mental well-
being
and
negatively
related to
psychological
distress.3
However,
social
relationships
also
may
increase
psycholog-
ical distress
because of
social
obligations
and conflicts and
socially
introduced
controls
and constraints-the
two
addi-
tional
aspects
of social
relationships.
Furthermore,
social
controls and
constraints
inhibit health-hazardous
behavior,
such as
smoking
or
consumption
of alcoholic
beverages
(Mermelstein
et al.
1986;
Rook, Thuras,
and Lewis
1990;
Umberson
1987).
Additionally,
recent
psychoimmunology
studies
suggest
that
mental
well-being
is
causally
related
to
physical
health.
Using experimental
studies of both
human
beings
and
nonhuman
primates
as
a
basis,
researchers show
evidence
that
stress,
depression,
and loneliness are
closely
2Note that the
model
does not
include the
individual difference
variables
that
are
known to
influence
mental
well-being
and
physical
health,
such
as
age,
education,
and
socioeconomic
status
(see,
e.g.,
Larson
1978).
Here,
we
assume that
such
variables are
statistically
controlled
for.
3Measurement
of
psychological
distress
includes
anger,
anxiety,
and
depression
(Barrera
1986),
whereas
measurement of
mental
well-being
is
a
composite
of
positive
and
negative
mental
states
(Cohen
et al.
1982).
A few
empirical
studies
have
demonstrated
the
discriminant
validity among
social
support,
stress,
psychological
distress,
and
well-being
(for
a
discussion,
see
Barrera
1986).
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110
Elderly
Consumers
associated
with
poorer
immune function
(Kennedy,
Kiecolt-
Glaser,
and Glaser
1990).
Reflecting
these
findings,
physi-
cal
health is related
positively
to mental
well-being
and
negatively
to
psychological
distress and health-hazardous
behavior.
Dependent
variables in social
support
studies
(i.e.,
mental
or
physical
health)
have been
measured
differently
by
dif-
ferent researchers.
The
major
variables of
interest--depres-
sion,
loneliness, self-esteem,
morale,
depressive
and
self-reported physical symptoms,
and
mortality-have
been
measured
with
established
scales or
clinical instruments
(see
Berkman and
Syme
1979;
Blazer
1982; Cohen,
Teresi,
and
Holmes
1985;
Heller et al.
1991;
Monroe
et
al.
1986;
Rook,
Thuras,
and Lewis
1990).
Operationalization
of social
support
has also
varied
in
the
literature. Rook
(1984),
for
example,
measured social
sup-
port along
three
dimensions:
type,
number
of
persons,
and
frequency.
Similarly,
Berkman and
Syme
(1979)
assessed
social
support
as the
presence
or
extent of ties
such as mar-
riage
contacts
with extended
family
and
friends,
church
membership,
and other formal and informal
group
affilia-
tions;
Cohen
and
colleagues
(1982)
measured
neighborhood
cohesion,
frequency
of
visits
to friends and
relatives,
and
marital
status.
Finally,
it
should
be
noted that
though
there
exists broad
agreement
on
the
positive
association
between social
sup-
port
and
health,
"The exact mechanisms
by
which
social
support produces
health benefits
are
still
unknown"
(Heller
et al.
1991,
p.
55).
Next,
we
briefly
introduce
a
key
theoret-
ical
debate on how
social
support
works.
Main-Effect
Model Versus
Buffering Hypothesis
Two
competing
hypotheses
of social
support
exist: the
main-effect
model
and the
buffering
model.
The main-effect
model
suggests
a
generalized
beneficial effect
of
social
sup-
port
on health. The
proponents
of
this
model
emphasize
social network and
support
as
providing persons
with
posi-
tive affect and
experience,
socially
rewarding
roles,
a sense
of
predictability
and
stability
in
life,
and
recognition
of
self-
worth.
They
also
hypothesize
a "statistical
main
effect of
support
with no Stress
x
Support
interaction"
(Cohen
and
Wills
1985,
p.
310).
In other
words,
social
support
is seen
as
beneficial
regardless
of the
person's
level
of
stress.
Alternatively,
the
buffering hypothesis
posits
that social
support
protects
a
person
from
potentially
adverse
or
patho-
genic
effects
of
stressful
events
(i.e.,
stress
x
support
inter-
action
effect).
Therefore,
according
to this
hypothesis,
social
support
is
beneficial
only
to a
person
under stress
(Cohen
and Wills
1985).4
In
summary,
the
foregoing
theoretical
debate
has
implica-
tions for the
targeting
of intervention
programs
(Rook
and
Dooley
1985),
because the
two
hypotheses
differ in their
prediction
for
whom social
support
can be beneficial. The
main-effect model
suggests
that social
support
is beneficial
to all
consumers,
whereas the
buffering hypothesis
proposes
that such
benefits are limited to
stressed consumers.
Empir-
ical evidence is
inconclusive
concerning
the two
competing
models
(Barrera
1986;
Cohen and Wills
1985;
Rook
and
Dooley
1985).
Focus
on
Elderly
Consumers
A
unique aspect
of the social
support
research tradition is its
focus on
vulnerable
populations.
Older
people,
ethnic
minorities,
and the
poor
tend
to
be less
socially
integrated
and more
likely
to be under
stress
(House,
Landis,
and
Umberson
1988, House,
Umberson and Landis
1988).
First,
compared
to the
general population,
"there is much
biologi-
cal evidence
suggesting
that the
elderly
are less resilient to
stresses,
less
physiologically
adaptable,
have
slowed home-
ostatic-regulatory
functions,
and are less
immunologically
competent"
(Kasl
1992,
p.
28).
Hence,
"stress
in
relation
to
age
in adulthood forms a
U-shaped
curve-the level of
stress tends to
be
high among young
adults
and,
after a
decrease
among
the middle
aged
and the
young-old,
increases
again among
the old-old"
(Pearlin
and Mullan
1992,
p.
127).
Consequently,
for the
past
few
decades,
researchers
have
emphasized
the
special
vulnerabilities of
the
elderly
to various
catastrophic
conditions,
negative
life
events,
and
everyday
life stressors or hassles
(Chiriboga
1992).5
For
public policy
or intervention
purposes,
this vul-
nerable
subgroup
can
be
a
prime target
of
research
(e.g.,
Heller et al.
1991; Rook,
Thuras,
and
Lewis
1990).
Addi-
tionally,
in consumer research
literature,
there
is
a
growing
interest in
understanding
and
protecting
vulnerable con-
sumers
(e.g.,
Cole
and Balasubramanian
1993;
Faber and
O'Guinn
1992;
Smith and Moschis
1990).
Most
important, elderly
consumers
may
lack
true social
ties.
In other
words,
they
are
in the
"Empty
Nest" or "Soli-
tary
Survivor"
stages
of
the
family
life
cycle
(see
Wells
and
Gubar
1966).
Most
elderly
consumers do not
have as
many
family
members
or friends
as
they
used
to,
having
lost some
to
death,
distance,
or
other circumstances.
The Benefits
of Market-Based
Social
Support
Researchers
have
found that
many
consumers
go shopping
for
socializing purposes (e.g.,
Bloch,
Ridgway,
and Dawson
1994; Bloch,
Ridgway,
and
Nelson
1991; Dawson, Bloch,
and
Ridgway
1990;
Feinberg
et al.
1989;
Forman and Sri-
ram
1991;
Tauber
1972).
Stone
(1954)
previously suggested
that certain consumers
(i.e.,
"personalizing shoppers")
form
a
strong
personal
attachment
to store
employees
as a substi-
4Stress
is
a
popular
but elusive
concept.
Lay
definitions
of stress include
the notion
of
pressure
or aversive
tension of
which
typical
reactions
include
fear,
anxiety,
and
anger
(Gatchel
and Baum
1983,
see
pp.
39-75).
It is "the
process
by
which environmental
events threaten
or
challenge
an
organism's
well-being
and
by
which
that
organism
responds
to
this stress"
(Gatchel
and Baum
1983,
p.
39).
Similarly,
Cohen and
Wills
(1985,
p.
312)
state that
"stress arises
when one
appraises
a situation
as
threatening
or otherwise
demanding
and
does
not
have
an
appropriate
coping
responsd
...
our
psy-
chological
definition
of
stress
closely
links
appraised
stress
with
feelings
of
helplessness
and the
possible
loss
of self-esteem."
5According
to
Aldwin
(1990),
the
most
frequent types
of stressors
found
among
the
elderly
in
her
study
were
deterioration
of
memory,
death of
a
friend,
deterioration
in
health
or behavior
of
family
member,
decrease
in
activities
that the
person
really enjoys, personal
injury
or
illness,
decrease
or increase in his or
her
responsibilities
or hours at work
or
volunteer
site,
worsening relationship
with a
child
or
spouse,
and
deterioration
in financial
state.
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Journal
of Public
Policy
&
Marketing
111
tute
for social
relationships.6 Extending
these
observations,
we
argue
that,
to
a
large
extent,
many
commercial interac-
tions
provide
a functional
equivalent
of social
support.
The
next
question
becomes,
How effective are
commercial inter-
actions as substitutes for true or traditional
social
support?
The
Strength
of
Commercial
Ties
We
might presume
that commercial ties
are
not
as
strong
as
traditional social
relationships.
Yet,
the
effectiveness
of
market-based
social
support
is
fundamentally
an
empirical
question
depending largely
on
the extent of
consumers'
dif-
ferential
perception
of such ties.
For
example,
consumers
who
shop through home-shopping
television networks
feel
that
the show
hosts are like
friends
(Ridgway
and
Moody
1994).
In
fact,
they
know all about
the
hosts'
husbands
(or
wives)
and children and often
express
feelings
of "love" for
the hosts.
Certainly,
consumers'
feelings
of
being
embedded
in
such
commercially
created social relations
is an illusion to a
large
extent.
Yet,
research shows
that
positive
illusions have
a beneficial effect
on mental
well-being
(Taylor
and
Brown
1988,
1994).
Taylor
and
Brown
(1994),
on the
basis
of
experimental
study
results,
argue
that
positive
illusions
(par-
ticularly
about
self,
control of
environment,
and
future)
are
good
for mental
health and cure
people
of
physical
illness
and that
accurate
perceptions
of self and environment
is not
a
necessary
condition for
well-being. Drawing
on this
research
tradition,
we
might
argue
that market-based social
support
boosts
consumers'
positive
illusions,
and such
illu-
sions
in
turn
influence consumer's
mental and
physical
health.
Furthermore,
those who
lack traditional
social
support
are
shown
to
be
responsive
to
minor
intervention
programs.
Many
experimental
studies have used
seemingly
weak alter-
natives to
true
or
traditional social
support.
For
example,
the
low-income
elderly
women who
received
"10 weeks of
friendly
staff
telephone
contact" showed
improvement
in
mental
health scores
(Heller
et al.
1991,
p.
53;
see also
Raube
1992).
In
a social
context,
weak social ties at times
exert
strong
power
(Granovetter
1973);
such
strength
comes
mainly
from the
quantity,
rather
than
the
quality,
of the rela-
tionship.
Therefore,
market-based social
relationships,
par-
ticularly
if
frequent
in
nature,
also
may
have
strong
effects
on
consumer
welfare.
The Content of
Market-Based
Social
Support
Based on a
review of the
existing
research
(i.e.,
Gottlieb
1978;
Lofland
1982;
Weiss
1974),
Rook and
Pietromonaco
(1987,
pp.
12-13)
identify
three
categories
of "beneficial
functions of
social
bonds":
help, companionship
or intimate
interaction,
and
regulation.
These
authors
list
specific types
of social
exchanges
that have
potential
health
implications.
The
categories
of
help exchanges
include
"emphatic
listen-
ing;
expression
of
caring/concern;
reassurance of
worth;
advice;
provision
of material
aid/services."
Examples
for
the
companionship
and
intimate interaction
category
are
"shared
leisure/recreation;
discussion of common
interests;
humor; affection;
disclosure of
hopes,
fantasies,
beliefs."
Under the
regulation category,
the authors cite
"feedback
about
inappropriate
behavior."
Many
of
these beneficial
functions are
performed regu-
larly by
hair
stylists,
bartenders,
and
clothing
sales
clerks.
A
car
salesperson
may
talk about the customer's favorite
sport
in the midst of
a sales talk.
Or,
consider
the nature of the
so-
called commercial interactions between the
storekeeper
and
resident customers at
a
general
store
in a
rural area.
Thus,
socially
supportive
functions are
commonly performed by
some service
agents
and
salespeople.
Furthermore,
many
consumers
engage
in social interaction with fellow
shoppers
while at the
marketplace
(see,
e.g.,
Dawson,
Bloch,
and
Ridgway
1990).
Feinberg
and
colleagues
(1989)
found
that
these social interactions between customers account for
25% of all interactions at a
shopping
mall.
Bellenger
and
Korgaonkar
(1980)
also
report
that 69% of their
respondents
were
recreational
shoppers
who
enjoy shopping
as a leisure-
time
activity.
In
summary,
the
marketplace
is where
many
consumers have
social
relationships
(see
also Forman
and
Sriram
1991).
The
Other Side of the Market
Relationship
We
have focused
primarily
on
the consumer
side
of the mar-
ket
relationship.
Yet,
marketers also
play
an
important,
active role in
providing
social
relationships.
Granovetter
(1985,
p.
495)
argues
that economic transactions are
embed-
ded in the
ongoing system
of
social
relations;
as a
result,
"business relations are
mixed
up
with social
ones."
In
the
Weberian tradition of
sociology,
economic transactions are
a
category
of
social relations
(Granovetter
1985).
Bradach
and Eccles
(1989)
also
observe
that
economic transactions
are
governed
typically
by
a combination of
price, authority,
and
trust,
rather than
by
a
single
mechanism.
In
the market-
ing
literature,
Lovelock
(1983,
pp.
13-14;
emphasis
added)
notes,
"In the
service
sector
...
purchasers may
enter into
ongoing
relationships
with
service
suppliers
and
may
receive
service on
a
continuing
basis" with or without mem-
bership implications.
Peters and Waterman
(1982),
for
example,
found
that
banks that
practice relationship
market-
ing
have
on-going
relationships
with
customers. The tellers
get
to know their
customers
by
name,
inquire
about their
families,
and vice
versa. There are
many
other
product
and
service
companies
that become
personally
familiar with
their
frequent
clients.
Examples
include
specialty
stores
that
attract
enthusiasts,
such as
computer, rock-climbing gear,
and
cycling
stores,
or
various collector
shows.
In
addition,
customers
in
these stores
frequently
share their interests
with one another. In
summary,
then,
most economic or mar-
ket
transactions contain some social characteristics.
As
relationship marketing
has
become a
popular
market-
ing strategy,
the
social content of market interactions has
increased. For
example, increasing
numbers of marketers
notice that
good
relationships
with customers
are a
key
to
long-term
financial success
(Gundlach
and
Murphy
1993).
Webster
(1992,
p.
14)
states,
"There has been a shift from a
transaction to a
relationship
focus ...
organizations
must
place
increased
emphasis
on
relationship management
skills
...
personal, targeted,
special
purpose
communications have
become
more
important."
Following
Levitt
(1983),
Dwyer,
6Note,
however,
that
not
all
consumers
are
seeking
social
contacts
(Goodwin
and
Lockshin
1992).
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112
Elderly
Consumers
Schurr,
and
Oh
(1987,
p.
14)
characterize
relationship
mar-
keting
as
"The
Marriage
of
Buyer
and Seller."
Therefore,
the
introduction of
personal relationship
aspects
into
market
relationships
as a
part
of
marketing
strategy
serves
to
increase
the
social content of consumer-market interactions.
In
summary,
relationship
marketing,
a
ubiquitous
phenome-
non of
today,
is
the other side
(and
the
source)
of market-
based social
support.
Because
relationship marketing
is a
major
trend
in
"the
customer battle ... in
the 1990s"
(Gundlach
and
Murphy
1993,
p.
35),
research interest also is
growing.
Relationship
marketing
is seen
as
an
effective
or
desirable
strategy
from
a
firm's
perspective.
However,
marketing
researchers
have
not
yet
considered the
consumer
welfare
implications
of this
strategy.
Consumer Welfare
Implications
of Market-Based
Social
Support
Because markets are
everywhere,
market friends are
readily
accessible most of the time at low
cost.
More
important,
these
commercial friends
usually try
to
be
nice
to their cus-
tomers;
store
employees
and
service
providers
are "on
stage"
performing
their
prescribed
roles
(e.g.,
Goffman
1959).
Furthermore,
as a result of the
wide-spread
relation-
ship
marketing
strategy,
salespersons
perform
the role
of
relationship manager
(Crosby,
Evans,
and Cowles
1990).
On
the basis
of
the
previous
discussion,
we
postulate
the
first and most
important proposition
(PI).
The next two
propositions
further elaborate on
Pi
and
are thus listed
as
Pla
and
Plb.
PI:
All else
being equal, elderly
consumers
who
engage
in
fre-
quent
market-based social
interactions
with
people
in
com-
mercial environments are healthier
both
physically
and
psychologically
than those who do not.
Obviously,
consumer-market interactions
differ
in terms
of
length
of time
and
conversational content
(Feinberg
et al.
1989).
Some
types
of
commercial contacts are
highly
social
or
relational,
where the association is
"close,
enduring,
and
interdependent"
(Crosby,
Evans,
and
Cowles
1990,
p.
68),
such as
those,
for
example,
in
a
bar,
health
club,
or hair
salon. Other contacts
tend to be more transactional
(imper-
sonal and
discrete)
in
nature;
for
example,
buying
a soft
drink at
a convenience
store.
Furthermore,
even
among
the
telemarketing
situations,
home-shopping
televisions
provide
consumers
with more
opportunity
for market-based
social
relationships
than traditional
mail-order
purchases.
Hence,
in
reality,
we find that the
frequent
mall-goer
versus the
mail-shopper dichotomy
is
oversimplified.
Instead,
it is
more
appropriate
to
envision a continuum
of
marketplace
contacts ranked
according
to their social
content,
with
a
pure
social contact
(e.g., visiting
a friend's store without
any buy-
ing
intention)
at
one
end and a
pure
transactional contact
(e.g.,
using
an automated teller
machine)
at the other. Relat-
edly, Feinberg
and
colleagues
(1989)
found that consumers
perceive
shopping
malls and
farmers
markets as
being
more
social than downtown stores and
supermarkets.
Therefore,
regardless
of the
nature
of the
specific
visitation,
we
expect
a
positive
main effect for
frequency
of market-based
social
interactions
(i.e., P1).
However,
the more social the com-
mercial
contact
is,
the more
positive
the
health
conse-
quences
will
be.
Pla;
All else
being
equal, elderly
consumers who have more fre-
quent
contact with and/or
spend
more time
in
product
or
service establishments with
high
social content are
physi-
cally
and
psychologically
healthier than others.
A
plausible
immediate
reaction to these
propositions
may
be that
physical
health
(especially
mobility)
and
the level of
discretionary
income
may
affect the
frequency
of
mall
visits
or services
consumption
instead of the state of
health
being
a result of the
shopping pattern.
We do not
deny
the exis-
tence of such
correlations; instead,
we
suggest (following
the
general
premise
or
expectation
of
the
health
psychology
literature;
e.g.,
House,
Landis,
Umberson
1988)
that,
even
after we
statistically
control for
physical
mobility,
income
differences,
and
a
host of
other factors
(including
existing
social
support),
we still
observe the
beneficial effects
of
the
social
aspects
of
commercial interaction and the
experiential
service
consumption
on the consumer's
well-being.
In
Pla,
the
social content of market interaction
is
seen as
depending
on the
type
of
product
or
service and retail insti-
tution.
Yet,
the extent of
relationship
and
the
social content
of
the
market interaction also
depends
on the
marketer's
strategy.
If the marketer
practices relationship
marketing,
in
which
personal relationships
with customers are
deliberately
cultivated,
the social content of interaction
will
increase.
Plb:
Elderly
consumers who have more
frequent
contact
with
commercial establishments that
practice relationship
mar-
keting
are
physically
and
psychologically
healthier than
others.
We do not
suggest
that the effects of true
and
market-
based social
supports
on
well-being
are
linearly
additive.
The
marginal
benefit of
additional social
ties
may
decrease
as the
overall
quantity
of
such
relationships
increases.
Rook
(1992)
suggests
the
possibility
of threshold effects.
We,
therefore,
postulate
P2, P2a,
and
P2b.
P2:
The
beneficial effects
of market-based
social
support
on
health
or
well-being
are
greater
if
the
elderly
consumer has
a
relatively
low
level
of true
or
traditional social
supports
than
if
the
consumer
already
has a
high
level
of social
support.
In
terms of
our aforementioned
hypothetical
Consumers
A,
B,
C,
and
D,
P2
predicts
that Consumers
C and
D
(with
low
traditional social
support)
will benefit
more
from
the social
interaction
at commercial
environments
than will Con-
sumers
A
and
B,
respectively.
Likewise,
market-based
social
support
itself also is sub-
ject
to a law of
diminishing
return. The
initial few market
interactions
may
have
greater
impact
on the consumer's
well-being
than the same number of additional interactions
after a certain level of social interactions
are reached.
Therefore,
P2a:
The beneficial effects of market-based
social
support
on
health increase at
a
decreasing
rate as the number of mar-
ket-based
social ties and the
frequency
of
such interactions
increase.
Although
we
have limited the
study population
to
elderly
consumers who are
likely
to
experience
more stress than the
general population,
all
of the
foregoing
propositions
are
stated
in a manner
consistent with the main-effect
model of
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Journal
of Public
Policy
&
Marketing
113
social
support.
We
cannot,
however,
exclude
the
possibility
that the
buffering hypothesis
is
correct;
therefore,
the
bene-
ficial effects
of the market-based
social
support
will
be
observed
only
if
the
elderly
consumers
are under
relatively
heavy
stress.7
P2b:
All
else
being equal,
the
beneficial
effects of
the market-
based
social
support
on consumer
health
increase
as the
person's
level
of
psychological
stress increases.
If
P2b
is not
supported,
then
the
main-effect model
is
favored.
With
appropriate
research
methodology,
a
researcher
can
simultaneously
test the
predictions
of
the
main-effect
and
buffering
models.
The Costs
of
Market-Based
Social
Support
The
previous
discussion
may
have
unfairly depicted
mar-
keters as
benign providers
of social
support
to
lonely
elderly
consumers.
Although
economic
transactions
embedded
in
personal relationships
may
decrease the
hazards of
one-time
opportunism
(Bradach
and Eccles
1989),
any
social
rela-
tionship
also involves
potentially
detrimental
aspects.
More-
over,
negative aspects
of
social
relationships
may
have
a
stronger
impact
on mental
health than
positive
aspects
(Pagel,
Erdly,
and Becker
1987;
Rook
1984,
1990;
see also
Taylor
1991).
Additionally,
citing Bolger
and
colleagues'
(1989)
study
of
married
couples,
Rook
(1992,
p.
161)
states
"interpersonal
conflicts
accounted
for over
80%
of the
explained
variance
in
respondent's
mood."
Rook and Pietromonaco
(1987)
identify
several
types
of
detrimental
functions
of social
relationships:
ineffective
help,
excessive
help,
unwanted or
unpleasant
interactions,
and
negative
regulations.
Pagel,
Erdly,
and Becker
(1987,
p.
793)
also
emphasize
the costs
of
relationships,
including
"broken
promises,
network members
who
in the
provision
of
support
are
irritating,
annoying,
or
overinvolved,
and
help
that comes
with
strings
attached."
Unfortunately,
such
neg-
ative
consequences
can be inherent
and substantial
in
mar-
ket-based
social
relationships.
For
example,
consumers
may
experience
unpleasant
(and
often
confrontational)
interac-
tions
with service
providers
(e.g.,
automobile
mechanics,
home
builders,
or taxi
drivers).
At an
extreme,
we can
imag-
ine a case where the
marketers
commercially exploit
the
socially dependent
elderly
customer
(e.g.,
charging higher
prices
or
selling unnecessary
and
expensive
items).
It
is
not
completely
unusual
for friends to
exploit
one
another
in
a
traditional
social
context;
however,
market-based social
relationships may actually
lend themselves
to
exploitation.
Marketers often
possess
means and
opportunities
to harm
individual
customers,
either
financially
or
emotionally;
fur-
thermore,
they may
have a
powerful
motivation to do so.
This
sad scenario
is more
likely
to occur
if the merchant
knows that the customer thinks and treats him
or her as a de
facto
friend.8
In
this
regard,
it seems
worthwhile
to
repeat
Max
Weber's
early
observation
(1904-5/1958,
p.
17):
The
impulse
to
acquisition,
pursuit
of
gain,
of
money,
of the
greatest
possible
amount
of
money,
has itself
nothing
to do
with
capitalism.
This
impulse
exists and
has existed
among
waiters,
physicians,
coachmen,
artists,
prostitutes,
dishonest
officials,
soldiers, nobles,
crusaders,
gamblers,
and
beggars.
One
may say
that
it has been common
to all
sorts and
conditions
of men
at all
times and
in all countries
of the earth.
It
is
inappropriate
to
assume
a
priori
that
many
(if
not
all)
marketers
take
advantage
of
their
relationships
with
cus-
tomers;
at the same
time,
however,
such
a
possibility
exists.
Because
elderly
consumers
tend to be
more
socially
isolated
and
vulnerable than
others,
they
may
not be on
an
equal
stance
with other consumers.
Such
vulnerability
or
inequal-
ity
can
provide
potentially
fertile
grounds
for
exploitation
or
manipulation
by
marketers.
Emerson's
(1962)
power
theory
suggests
that a consumer's
dependence
on
the marketer
is an
increasing
function of
the former's
motivational
investment
in the
goal
or resource
mediated
by
the latter
(in
this
case,
social
support
or
maintenance
of
relationship)
and
a
decreasing
function of
the
availability
of the resource
out-
side
the
relationship.
Skills
or
techniques
of
relationship
marketing
facilitate
this
process.
Therefore,
socially
isolated
elderly
consumers
are
likely
to
develop
strong
dependence
on
marketers
(see
Forman
and
Sriram
1991).
Hence,
we should
pay
attention to
the actual costs
of
developing
and
maintaining
the market-based social
rela-
tionships
from
an
elderly
consumer's
point
of view.
Social
exchange
theories
suggest
that consumers
feel
obligated
to
pay
back
the marketer's
friendliness
(Blau
1964).
Reciproc-
ity
is
a
long-established
social
norm
(e.g.,
Blau
1964,
p.
26,
quoting
Aristotle's
The
Nicomachean
Ethics).
Unlike
the
parties
at
a true friend's
home,
the consumer
must
pay
the
bill
and,
probably,
tip generously
for the dinner
at his
or her
favorite
restaurant where
the owner
acts like a
friend.
Friendship
with a merchant
can be
costly,
especially
when
the
customer is
emotionally dependent
on
a
professional
seller.
Sustaining
this kind of
relationship
can cause
serious
financial
strain to
elderly
consumers on
fixed incomes.
In
summary,
market-based
social
support
entails
price
and
risks,
as do conventional
social
relationships.
Our
previous
discussion
indicates that
emphasizing
only
the beneficial
aspects
of
market
relationships
constitutes
a
distorted
view of
reality.
Likewise,
an
empirical
study
that
measures
only
the desirable
consequences
of commercial
interactions
suffers from a
specification
error.
Therefore,
we
postulate
P3
and
P3a.
P3:
The
elderly
consumer's
psychological
well-being
is related
negatively
to the extent of detrimental or
pathogenic
social
relationships occurring
in the commercial environment.
Depending
on the content of
market
interaction,
staying
away
from
potentially
troublesome social
relationships
at
marketplaces may
be a
superior,
more healthful
strategy
for
some consumers.
Finally,
because
relationship marketing
is
practiced
by
greater
numbers of
marketers,
there
may
be
an increase
in
7It
is
important
to
consider both
amount and source of
stress. It seems
plausible
that
when
consumers attribute
their stress
to market
interactions,
market-based
social
support
would
not be of
any help.
In
addition,
those
who have
trouble in true or
traditional
social
relationships may
turn to
mar-
ket
interactions.
Consequently,
it is
possible
that those who have
more
mar-
ket-based
social ties
might
be
less
healthy
than those with less.
These
are
important
questions
that can
be
empirically
tested.
8Note that
frequently
the
distinction
between true and commercial
friends can be blurred.
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114
Elderly
Consumers
merchants who
attempt
to
exploit
relationships
with
vulner-
able consumers. Health
psychology
literature
suggests
that
the health
consequences
of
social
relationships depend
largely
on the
perception
(i.e.,
cognitive appraisal)
or attri-
bution
of the
person (e.g.,
Barrera
1986).
For
instance,
con-
sumers
may
perceive
the
marketer
being obviously
insincere
or
the
friendly
talk
being apparently
canned.
If
the consumer
perceives
that he
or
she is
being exploited
or deceived
by
"friendly"
marketers,
the
negative
health
consequences
can
be
exaggerated.
Therefore,
P3a:
The
negative
effect
of detrimental or
pathogenic
social
rela-
tionships
on
the
elderly
consumer's
well-being
is
greater
when the consumer
perceives
that
he or she is
exploited
by
the marketer than when
he
or
she
does
not
perceive
so.
We
consider
some other unintentional
outcomes
of
market
interaction that
may
have
negative
health and
well-being
implications,
such as the
consumer's dissatisfaction
with the
product
or service.
In
particular,
the
primary
source of
satis-
faction or dissatisfaction
with retail
institutions
is the social
dimension
of the
shopping
environment
(see
Westbrook
1981).
Therefore,
it is
likely
that
such
negative
conse-
quences
of
marketplace
social
support
is mediated
by
con-
sumer dissatisfaction.
Conclusion
We
discuss
the
century-old
social
support
literature
and
integrate
it with consumer
retail-patronage
behavior
research and
relationship
marketing
literature.
The
integra-
tive
conceptual
framework
suggests
that
consumers'
market
interactions can serve
as
a functional
equivalent
of
social
support,
especially
for the
elderly.
Furthermore,
the increas-
ing practice
of
relationship
marketing
makes
market
inter-
action even more
social and
personal.
Frequent
store
shoppers
and the consumers
of certain
experiential
services
may
be
physically
and
psychologically
healthier
than
others.
However,
relying
on
market-based
social
support
may
not
be
costless
or
riskless
from
a
consumer's
view
point.
Limitations
Before
turning
to the
implications
of the
conceptual
frame-
work and
propositions
presented
here,
it is
important
to con-
sider
the limitations
of
this
article.
First,
as
was reiterated
by
many
researchers
(e.g.,
House,
Landis,
Umberson
1988),
though
the
evidence
for
causal
impact
of social
relationships
on
mental and
physical
health
is
accumulating
from
experi-
mental
and
quasi-experimental
studies,
we are still
far from
fully understanding
the
process.
Consequently,
the
current
theoretical
framework
reflects this
limitation.
Second,
it
is
uncertain
whether market-based social
support
is beneficial
to
elderly
consumers or
to consumers
in
general.
This
is
related to an
important
theoretical
question
(i.e.,
main-effect
model
versus
buffering
hypothesis)
that
must be
empirically
clarified.
We
adopt
a conservative
position
and
limit
the
potential
benefits to
the
elderly,
who
are more
likely
to
be
under
greater
stress
than others.
Marketing
and Public
Policy Implications
Our line of
reasoning
leads to several
important
implications
regarding marketing
strategy
and
public policy.
First,
mar-
keters
may
be
able to utilize
strategically
the
market-based
social
support
function
to
further
their
competitive
advan-
tage.
For
example,
marketers
who
offer
social benefits
to
their
customers are
likely
to
increase
sales and customer
loyalty.
This
is
already
evidenced
by
the
popularity
of
rela-
tionship marketing,
as
well as
by
the
increasing
research
interest in the
topic (e.g.,
Gundlach
and
Murphy
1993).
Second,
elderly
consumers
should be
made
aware
of the
possible
benefits of market-based
social
support
and rela-
tionships.
Market interactions can
enhance
the consumer's
psychological
and
physical
health;
therefore,
elderly
con-
sumers are
encouraged
to
engage
in
market
interactions as
an
alternative
to traditional
social
support.
Third,
the
first two
implications
lead
to the most
impor-
tant issue:
consumer
protection.
Elderly
consumers
should
be
explicitly
cautioned
against
the
potential
costs and inher-
ent
risks of
market
relationships.
The
potential
negative
con-
sequences
include
both
monetary
(e.g.,
unnecessary
or
excessive
spendings)
and emotional
(e.g.,
the
feeling
of
being exploited)
costs.
Although
some
consumers
are
likely
to
experience
the
negative
consequences
of the market-
based
social
relationship, government
or
third-party regula-
tion over
market
relationships appears
not to
be a viable
policy
option.
Because
consumer-market
interactions are
subtle
phenomena
occurring
at
the
interpersonal
level,
enforcement
of
special
regulatory
laws could
be
difficult.
Therefore,
self-regulation
is
preferred,
because
marketing
institutions
voluntarily
assume
their share
of social and
eth-
ical
responsibility.
Among
others,
those
who
practice
rela-
tionship
marketing
should
bear a fair
portion
of
the
responsibility
for
consumer
education
and
protection.
Addi-
tionally,
consumer
interest
groups
could initiate
educational
programs
for
elderly
consumers.
For
example,
the American
Association
of
Retired Persons
could
publish
lists
of
national retailers
(e.g., Target,
Wal-Mart)
that cherish
rela-
tionships
with
elderly
consumers
and do
not
exploit
them.
Likewise,
this
organization
can
publish
lists
of
"unfriendly"
retailers.
The
negative public
relations
value of
being
on
such a list
may
cause these
retailers
to
work hard
to avoid
being
on
or to
get
off
the list.
In extreme
instances,
the
American Association
of
Retired
Persons
can threaten
or
even
lead
boycotts
aimed
at
retailers that
have been
proven
to
exploit
elderly
consumers.
For
local
or
small
retailers,
better
business
bureaus
in
each
city
can
publish
lists
of
friendly
and
unfriendly
retailers.
To further
clarify
the
related
public
policy
issues,
researchers could
investigate
economic
aspects
of market-
based social
support
and
relationship
marketing.
For
instance,
at a
micro
level,
how much do consumers
pay
as a
premium
for
friendly
service?
How much
does the friendli-
ness
add to the marketer's
operation
costs?
At
the societal
level,
would
the
costs and benefits
(of
both
consumers
and
marketers)
justify
such
practices?
Finally, assuming
that
relationship
marketing
and
market-
based
social
support
are inevitable
phenomena
of
this
era,
it
will be beneficial
for
both marketers
and
consumers
if busi-
nesses were to
develop
better
relationship
marketing
atti-
tudes
and/or skills
that
minimize the
possibility
of
consumers
feeling exploited.
For
example,
the
(perceived)
sincerity
of the
consumer-market
relationship
could
be
improved
through employee-training
programs.
Fundamen-
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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Journal
of Public
Policy
&
Marketing
115
tally,
however,
marketers should make a
genuine,
long-term
commitment to consumer
welfare.
Directions for Further Research
Research
on
social
support,
initiated
by
Durkheim,
has
evolved
over
a
century.
Extension of the literature into the
consumer-market
relationship represents
a
major leap
in
its
theoretical
development.
Therefore,
it seems that
empirical
tests of
the
major propositions
are of
great importance.
Ide-
ally,
the
propositions
should be tested
using large samples
and
longitudinal
data
(e.g.,
Monroe
et
al.
1986).
Because the
empirical
social
support
studies involve a
large
number
of
covariates
(e.g.,
income,
age, gender,
physical
mobility,
availability
and
accessibility
of
shopping
places,
personal-
ity)
and
independent
variables
(true
social
support
and the
market-based
social
support)
and because the effect
size,
in
the
absence of
manipulation,
is
typically
small,
it
is
impor-
tant to have
a
large
number of
survey respondents.
Berkman
and
Syme
(1979),
for
example,
studied
a
probability sample
of
4775 adults.
Otherwise,
the
statistical
analysis
could
be
underpowered.
Alternatively,
with
a
relatively
small
sample
size,
researchers
can examine the effects of commercial
interac-
tions on consumer
welfare
using experimental,
quasi-exper-
imental,
or
in-depth
qualitative
study
methods. For
example,
in
the
consumer research
literature, Hornik
(1992)
experi-
mentally
showed that
touching by
restaurant
employees
has
a
positive impact
on
the
touched consumer's mental state
(i.e.,
mood).
Note that
touching
is a true
social interaction
(though
performed by
a marketer
in
this
case).
Hence,
an
extension
of
such a research scheme could
easily
incorpo-
rate and test some
of
the
propositions
made
here.
When the
sample
size is
manageable
and the
study
involves
the
elderly,
researchers favor
in-person,
structured
interviews as data collection
methods. Good
examples
include Rook's
(1984)
study
based on
one-hour
long
inter-
views with
115
elderly
widowed women
and
Rook, Thuras,
and Lewis's
(1990)
study
that
interviewed 162 older
adults
for
approximately
90 minutes.
After
the basic
propositions
are tested and
reasonably
supported,
researchers can
examine the
theory
in a
cross-
cultural
setting.
An
elderly
consumer in the
United
States
may
be more
socially
isolated
than his
or
her
counterparts
in
other
cultures
or
countries
(Bernikow
1986).
Comparisons
based on
the
level
of
industrialization,
extent of the
practice
of
relationship marketing,
and
cultural treatment of the
elderly
should
lead
to
important insights.
Finally,
some researchers contend
that
personal
attributes
(e.g., personal
competence
or social
skills)
are the
underly-
ing
factors
that influence both health and social
support
(for
a
discussion,
see
House, Umberson,
and Landis
1988).
Thus,
researchers could
explore
the
relationships among
individual difference
variables,
shopping
habits,
social
sup-
port,
and
health.
Clearly,
those who undertake studies on social
support
or
social intervention should consider
(and
measure as a
covariate)
market-based social
support
to enhance the statis-
tical
power
of the
study.
The
propositions presented
here
may help
explain why
a few
social
support
studies were
unable to find a
strong
relationship
between social
support
and
well-being
(see
Barrera
1986).
According
to the reason-
ing
given
here,
most
people
have
easy
access to and
typi-
cally enjoy
this
relatively inexpensive
alternative
form
of
social
support.
By
calling
for the inclusion
of
such measure-
ment,
we
can make a
significant
contribution
to the
social
support
literature.
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... Since the mid-1970s, there has been an increasing interest in social support as a coping factor related to physical health (Bruwer et al., 2008;Ermis-Demirtas et al., 2018). Social support has been regarded as a multidimensional construct and defined in various ways (Cobb, 1976;Kang and Nancy, 1996;Williams et al., 2004;Bruwer et al., 2008;Ellonen et al., 2008;Vollmann et al., 2010). Social support is defined as the perception a person has of specific or general supports from people in their context, which contribute and/or act as a buffer for their wellbeing (Demaray and Malecki, 2002;Malecki and Demaray, 2003;Vedder et al., 2005;Marambe et al., 2012;Ermis-Demirtas et al., 2018;Wilson et al., 2020). ...
... Vollmann et al. (2010) found social support to be the most beneficial in reinforcing student self-esteem (Camara et al., 2017). According to Kang and Nancy (1996), students, as customers of the universities, have a need for social support. Social support is an important dimension in improving self-efficacy (Maleki-Saghooni et al., 2020). ...
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... Service encounters also play a greater role in maintaining the wellbeing of elderly consumers (Plaud & Guillemot, 2015). Shopping constitutes an important social activity for elderly consumers (Grougiou & Pettigrew, 2011;Kang & Ridgway, 1996), and their responses to service encounters differ from those of younger consumers (Lumpkin & Hite, 1988). Due to fewer social interactions in general, however, elderly consumers receive and engage less in word-of-mouth communication, something that may contribute to their comparative brand loyalty and low levels of brand switching and information-seeking behavior (East et al., 2014). ...
... ; Sirgy et al. (1991); Smith (1993); Kang and Ridgway (1996) ...
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This paper reports a theme‐based structured systematic literature review of the growing body of marketing research about elderly consumers. By synthesizing, explicating, and relating this research, the paper offers a structured view of the past and present state of the research field and integrates it into a theoretical framework. The literature review was based on 209 marketing research articles published from the early 1970s to 2021. It identified thirteen research topics, which were subsequently grouped into three themes: 1) describing and defining the elderly market segment, 2) age changes and the elderly consumer, and 3) marketing responses of elderly consumers. Based on these themes, the paper presents a theoretical framework and provides directions for future marketing research on elderly consumers. The systematic literature review thus provides clarity to a wide and interdisciplinary research field, facilitating its continued growth.
... Bengtsson and Kock (2014) further illustrated that coopetition, as a paradoxical relationship between two or more firms, simultaneously embodied the essence of cooperation and competition regardless of whether they are involved in horizontal or vertical relationships. Prior research objects on this topic are diverse, including firms and their competitors (Brandenburger and Nalebuff, 1996;Zineldin, 2004), subunits of multinational enterprises (Luo, 2005), upstream and downstream enterprises in supply channels (Bagozzi, 1995), and different departments of one enterprise (Kang and Ridgway, 1996). As for the determinants of the coopetition relationship between firms, much work has been done. ...
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... Il y a lieu de noter que malgré la tendance à privilégier la vulnérabilité comme prisme d'appréhension des « laissés pour compte » du/dans le marché (Castel 1995), que nous présenterons dans ce qui suit, au détriment de l'approche par le désavantage (Andreasen 1975(Andreasen , 1982 les caractéristiques qui distinguent les consommateurs désavantagés, présentés ci-haut, seront reprises, entre autres, par la suite en tant qu'objets de nombreuses recherches, en marketing et en comportement du consommateur, auprès de populations dont l'accès à la consommation n'est pas effectif, ou est du moins restreint. Ainsi sera étudié le rapport à la consommation et au marché d'individus en manque de moyens économiques (Alwitt 1995;Amine et Toumi 2018;Hamilton 2009a;Hill et Stephens 1997;Saatcioglu et Ozanne 2013b) appartenant à des minorités raciales ou ethniques (Askegaard, Arnould, et Kjeldgaard 2005;Bone, Christensen, et Williams 2014;Crockett 2017;Crockett et Wallendorf 2004;Thomas 2013), d'un âge avancé (Amine, Bonnemaizon, et Josion-Portail 2017;Barnhart et Peñaloza 2013;Kang et Ridgway 1996;Tepper 1994), ou qui ont des difficultés linguistiques (Adkins et Ozanne 2005b, 2005aGau et Viswanathan 2008). ...
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Notre travail doctoral a consisté en une approche ethnographique à travers laquelle nous avons exploré les expériences de consommation de personnes ayant recours aux organismes d’aide notre objectif était d'étudier comment l'adoption d'activités de consommation contraintes par les individus en situation de pauvreté sur la négociation de leurs identités sociales au sein de la société de consommation. Pour ce faire, nous avons eu recours à une méthodologie qualitative grâce à laquelle nous avons pu accéder aux significations accordées par les usagers à leurs activités de consommation au sein et en dehors des organismes d’aide. Notre dispositif de collecte était constitué d’entretiens, d’observations et de photos que nous avons prise pour documenter certaines pratiques de consommation adoptées par les usagers.Nos résultats mettent au jour la différence entre les expériences de consommation, non marchandes, au sein des organismes d'aide et d’autres, plus normalisées au sein de la sphère marchande. Les organismes d’aide apparaissent comme des espaces de consommation qui se situent à la marge du marché conventionnel et sont caractérisés par différentes contraintes, qui ont une propension à inscrire les usagers qui les fréquentent dans un statut, dévalorisé, de bénéficiaires. Ce dernier est négocié par nos répondants en s’appropriant, via la mobilisation de compétences et savoir-faire, des ressources symboliques et/ou matérielles disponibles dans les espaces contraints, celles de l'espace marchands, ou des espaces charnières qui constituent la frontière entre les deux. Suivant ces incursions dans lesdits espaces, nous aboutissons à une typologie d'usager des OA en regard de la négociation de leurs identités sociales. A côté de ces apports théoriques, notre travail permet de questionner la place des organismes d’aide au sein de la société de consommation, notamment à travers leurs emplacements, vecteurs d’exposition sociale et leurs caractéristiques organisationnelles, qui imposent des rapports asymétriques aux usagers qui les fréquentent.
... Purchasing of seniors have multiple functions. For most of them, it's more than simply satisfying the material necessities, and also has importance as a method of interaction among peers (Kang & Ridgway, 1996). ...
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The market situation of European shopping centres has been significantly changed compared to previous decades for a number of reasons. Among other reasons, it is important to underline the ageing European population. Furthermore, the ratio of elderly is projected to increase further in Hungary. These demographic processes lead to wide range of socioeconomic impacts on the country. One of the consequences that senior customers are becoming increasingly important target group for shopping centres nowadays. They have already had a considerable purchasing power in Budapest. Meanwhile, shopping centres in the capital city are still focusing on young generations. For this very reason, researches required to get a better insight into the behaviors of senior customers. This paper aims to explore differences and similarities in shopping behaviors between different age groups of customers in the case of Árkád Budapest. The author gathered published official statistical information from the website of Hungarian Central Statistical Office (HCSO) and analyzed the current demographical situation in Budapest. The analysis of mall-visiting behaviors is based on questionnaire which contains responses of 156 purchasers. Descriptive statistical methods were implemented by the author. Expected research findings are support to increase our knowledge about mall-visiting behaviours of senior customers in Budapest.
... Older women with fewer social interactions and spending more time alone tend to do television home shopping to alleviate loneliness (Park and Lennon 2004 (Kang and Ridgway 1996). Even in the traditional retail stores, elderly consumers, who tend to be socially-isolated, are more likely to interact with salespeople than younger consumers (Levy 1979). ...
... Satisfied and involved customers extend their relationships with retailers (Christy et al., 1996;Shang et al., 2005), therefore consumer's relationship with the firm needs to be highly considered (Roberts et al., 2003). Moreover, consumers are loyal to those retailers who invest in relationships (Bagozzi, 1995) whereas a friendly retail environment compels the customer to establish their relationships (Kang and Ridgway, 1996). Moreover, social interactions, locational convenience, friendly service personnel and relationships with retailers are reported to be highly regarded by consumers (Khare, 2014). ...