ArticlePDF Available

Corporate social performance and consumer-retailer emotional attachment: The moderating role of individual traits

Authors:
  • Alba Graduate Business School, The American College of Greece

Abstract and Figures

Purpose ‐ This paper aims to examine the influence of corporate social performance (CSP) on the emotional attachment of consumers to firms. In contrast to past CSR studies, this research seeks to investigate the role of personality variables as moderating factors. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study tested hypotheses through an experiment using scenarios, addressing corporate social responsibility activities, manipulating domains like environmental protection, treatment of employees, and charitable giving. Findings ‐ The results indicate that CSP influences consumer-firm emotional attachment and that this attachment constitutes an unrecognized mediational pathway in the CSP-loyalty link. The results identify the moderating and strengthening role of altruism, need-for-activity, and esteem-enhancement on the CSP-emotional attachment link. Finally, the study reveals that attributions are likely to moderate the influence of consumer altruism. Research limitations/implications ‐ Although the CSP record scenarios reflected real corporate social responsibility practices, future studies employing field experiments or consumer surveys exploring the effects of actual corporate social responsibility initiatives would be valuable to enhance the external validity of these results. Practical implications ‐ The study helps retailers towards improved and more targeted social responsibility investments. Specifically, retailers targeting consumer groups that are high in altruism, high in need for activity, and high in self-enhancement motives are probably in a more advantageous position when investing in CSR initiatives as a way to build and further deepen emotional attachment, and indirectly consumer loyalty. Originality/value ‐ Building on the CSR and attachment literatures, the study investigates the extent to which CSP is capable of influencing customer loyalty through emotion-laden processes. Furthermore, in contrast to previous CSR studies, this study is one of the first to directly investigate whether consumer differences influence consumer reactions to CSR. Specifically, this study finds that differences in consumers' personality traits may affect the effectiveness of CSR initiatives.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Consumer-retailer emotional
attachment
Some antecedents and the moderating role of
attachment anxiety
Pavlos A. Vlachos
Graduate School of DEREE The American College of Greece,
Athens, Greece, and
Aristeidis Theotokis, Katerina Pramatari and Adam Vrechopoulos
Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of the study is to investigate loyalty building and the creation of affectionate
bonds in the consumer-firm dyad.
Design/methodology/approach The study relies on face-to-face personal interviews in the
context of grocery store retailing.
Findings – The results identify the significant predictors of consumer-firm emotional attachment to
be firm trust, trust in employees, likeability of service personnel and likeability of co-consumers,
shopping enjoyment, self-expressiveness, place dependence, and place identity. Consumers’
self-enrichment, self-gratification and self-enablement likely influence emotional attachment, which
in turn is a strong predictor of behavioral loyalty and word of mouth. Attachment anxiety appears to
multiply the effects of emotional attachment on behavioral loyalty and word of mouth.
Research limitations/implications The cross-sectional nature of the study precludes definitive
conclusions concerning causality between the constructs utilized. The data come from the
supermarket retail channel, limiting the generalizibility of the results.
Practical implications As the results suggest that the consumer’s self-enrichment seems to be the
most important factor in determining emotional attachment, managers should incorporate the notion
of emotional attachment into strategic performance management systems.
Originality/value The study incorporates the notion of consumer heterogeneity into the
relationship anxiety construct, arguing in favor of a non-additive consumer-firm emotional attachment
nomological network.
Keywords Customer loyalty, Buyer-seller relationships, Retailing, Consumer behaviour
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Many consumer relationships are anchored on a well accepted linkage of
satisfaction to trust to consumer loyalty (Yim et al., 2008). However, recent research
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/0309-0566.htm
The authors are grateful to co-editor Nick Lee and three anonymous reviewers for comments on
earlier versions of the article. This study is funded by the ECR Europe International Commerce
Institute (ICI) Unilever Research Grant.
At the time this research was conducted the first author was affiliated to ELTRUN, the
research centre of the Athens University of Economic and Business.
EJM
44,9/10
1478
Received May 2008
Revised September 2008
December 2008
March 2009
Accepted March 2009
European Journal of Marketing
Vol. 44 No. 9/10, 2010
pp. 1478-1499
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
0309-0566
DOI 10.1108/03090561011062934
(Chaudhuri and Holbrook, 2001; Carroll and Ahuvia, 2006) suggests that simply
providing satisfying experiences might be insufficient for long-term success.
Researchers suggest that companies likely fail to build consumer loyalty due to
their inability to create affectionate ties with their consumers. The goal of the study
is to investigate whether, how and when managers should invest in building
affectionate ties with consumers.
To address the “whether” question, we examine whether consumer-firm emotional
attachment is likely to influence consumer loyalty and positive word of mouth. These
two constructs relate to different managerial goals: consumer loyalty pertains to
consumer retention and word of mouth to customer attraction. If managers invest in
consumer-firm emotional attachment, will it pay off for the company in terms of
customer retention and customer attraction?
The “how” question is addressed by investigating some antecedents of consumer-firm
emotional attachment. We postulate an antecedent model of consumer-firm emotional
attachment, thereby addressing the call of Carroll and Ahuvia (2006) for more research
identifying determinants of the consumer-firm emotional attachment phenomenon.
The “when” question relates to the examination of boundary conditions governing
the emotional attachment-loyalty linkage. Though there is evidence (e.g. Carroll and
Ahuvia, 2006; Thomson, 2006; Roberts, 2006) highlighting the positive effects of
creating emotional attachment with consumers, research is lacking regarding the role
of consumer heterogeneity in modifying the emotional attachment-loyalty link.
Finally, the study extends the literature in yet two more important ways. First,
contrary to the extant literature (e.g. Fournier, 1998; Albert et al., 2008; Smit et al.,
2007), this study investigates consumers’ emotional attachment in the context of a
service industry, namely the grocery retailing sector, further addressing the calls of
Carroll and Ahuvia (2006) and Yim et al. (2008) for investigating emotional attachment
in service firm settings. Building emotional attachment between the service provider
and consumers may be a more viable strategy when compared to the inanimate
object-consumer dyad, since service managers have the option to use their contact
personnel strategically to build emotional bonds with their consumers. Second, the
article is novel in that it incorporates insights from the place attachment literature so as
to more fully understand consumer-firm emotional attachment in settings that involve
physical locations (i.e. servicescapes).
Conceptual background
Attachment theory and relevant research streams
Attachment theory investigates humans’ tendency to form, maintain and dissolve
affectionate ties with particular others (Bartholomew and Horowitz, 1991; Hazan and
Shaver, 1994). However, research in psychology and marketing suggests that
attachments can extend beyond person-to-person relationship contexts (Thomson and
Johnson, 2006) to possessions (Kleine and Baker, 2004; Ball and Tasaki, 1992), places
(Williams and Vaske, 2003; Moore and Graefe, 1994), and companies or brands (Carroll
and Ahuvia, 2006; Paulssen and Fournier, 2007; Park and MacInnis, 2006). Table I
briefly describes different research streams investigating the phenomenon of human
attachment, major authors and short descriptions. We find relevant writings in
psychology, consumer behavior and leisure sciences.
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1479
Consumers’ emotional attachment to product and service brands
Recent marketing research supports the application of attachment theory in marketing
(Thomson and Johnson, 2006). Paulssen and Fournier (2007) provide empirical
evidence that commercial relationships behave in similar ways to personal
relationships.
The terminology used in the literature regarding attachment differs. Thomson
(2006) and Thomson et al. (2005) use the term “emotional attachment”. Carroll and
Ahuvia (2006) and Albert et al. (2008) use the term “love”; while Yim et al. (2008) use the
term “customer-firm affection”. In this study, we use the term “consumer-firm
emotional attachment”.
Regardless of terminology, the main findings of these studies indicate that
consumers are likely to develop strong affectionate ties in commercial relationships.
Albert et al. (2008) derive 11 dimensions of the love construct in consumer-brand
relationships, mostly similar to the antecedents suggested by Yim et al. (2008), Carroll
and Ahuvia (2006), Fournier (1998), Sivadas and Venkatesh (1995), and Ball and Tasaki
(1992). These dimensions relate to consumer-brand image congruity, trust, relationship
duration, passion, attraction, hedonism, and memories, among others.
While the majority of the consumer-brand emotional attachment literature focuses
on tangible brands (e.g. Carroll and Ahuvia, 2006; Thomson et al., 2005), recent
marketing research has investigated consumer-firm emotional attachment in
Discipline Context Authors Terms used Short description
Psychology Interpersonal
relationships
Sternberg (1986),
Bartholomew and
Horowitz (1991), Hazan
and Shaver (1994),
Bowlby (1979)
Adult-pair
attachment, infant-
caregiver attachment
Conceptualizes the
propensity of human
beings to make strong
affectional bonds to
particular others
Consumer
behavior
Consumer-
brand
relationships
Fournier (1998),
Thomson et al.(2005),
Carroll and Ahuvia
(2006), Park and
MacInnis (2006), Albert
et al. (2008), Paulssen
and Fournier (2007),
Yim et al. (2008)
Emotional
attachment, brand
love, affectionate ties
Investigates the
importance of
affectionate bonds in
consumers’ long-term
relationships with
brands
Consumer-
object
relationships
Belk (1988), Shimp and
Madden (1988), Ball
and Tasaki (1992),
Kleine and Baker
(2004), Ahuvia (2005)
Possession
attachment
Investigates
consumers’ ability to
love objects and
consumption activities
Leisure
sciences
Relationship
with
surroundings
Moore and Graefe
(1994), Bricker and
Kerstetter (2000),
Williams and Vaske
(2003), Kyle et al. (2005)
Place attachment Investigates emotional
ties individuals form
with their
surroundings,
providing insight into
the meaning people
assign to outdoor
settings
Table I.
Major research streams
investigating the
phenomenon of human
attachment
EJM
44,9/10
1480
non-tangible brand settings. For example, Paulssen and Fournier (2007) found that
secure personal attachment drives the strongest commercial relationships in the
automotive services category.
From these findings we draw two main implications. First, consumers are likely to
form strong emotional bonds with both product and service brands, and freely say that
they love a store or brand (Yim et al., 2008; however, for a discussion see Albert et al.,
2008). Second, creating consumer-firm emotional attachment requires focusing on
multiple psychological and functional factors.
Emotional attachment as a distinct construct
Research confirms that consumer-firm emotional attachment is distinct from attitude,
satisfaction, or involvement (e.g. Thomson et al., 2005). Park and MacInnis (2006)
question whether attitudes can adequately account for hot-affect based brand
relationships. Emotional attachment can explain stronger forms of behaviors and may
be considered a proxy for consumer-brand relationship strength (Thomson, 2006).
However, this may not be the case for satisfaction: previous marketing research
suggests that even highly satisfied consumers do not always re-patronize a brand
(Jones and Sasser, 1995). Emotional attachment requires a personal history between
the consumer and the brand (Belk, 1988), whereas satisfaction may stem from only a
few consumption experiences. In the same vein, Yim et al. (2008) distinguish
consumer-firm emotional attachment from consumption affection.
Consumer-emotional attachment entails only positive feelings, whereas consumption
affect may entail both positive and negative feelings.
Proposed model and hypotheses development
The conceptual premise underlying the model is based on attachment theory: people
tend to develop affectionate ties with people who seem especially responsive to their
needs (Aron et al., 1989; Hazan and Shaver, 1994). In parallel, firms aiming for
affectionate ties with their consumers must be extremely responsive to their needs.
Park et al. (2006) provide a conceptual framework indicating that people are most
likely to develop attachments to offerings that fulfill their functional needs (enabling
the self), their experiential needs (gratifying the self), and their emotional needs
(enriching the self). Building from these three pillars, we recognize antecedents that
constitute suitable strategies for enhancing the firm-self connection and consequently
consumer-firm emotional attachment.
We posit that:
.trust towards the firm and the firm’s employees as well as place dependence are
factors that enable a consumer’s self;
.interpersonal likeability and shopping enjoyment are factors that gratify a
consumer’s self; and
.self-expression and place identity are factors that enrich a consumer’s self.
Table II provides definitions of constructs included in the research model.
Pillar I: Enabling the self
Consumer firm-emotional attachment can occur when the firm creates a sense of an
efficacious and capable self (Park et al., 2006). If a firm is not able to serve consumers’
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1481
needs effectively through reliable functional performance, the basic assumption behind
the attachment would prove false.
The effect of trust on emotional attachment. Consumers’ trust of the firm is critical to
attachment formation and sustainability, since trust mainly relates to assessments
regarding the future performance of a firm (Park et al., 2006; Selnes, 1998). Importantly,
trust relates to the reduction of perceived risk, thus enabling consumers to pursue
consumption activities that they would not pursue otherwise.
The major role of attachment is the creation of emotional security through
satisfaction of a person’s needs (Hazan and Shaver, 1994; Thomson, 2006). In social and
economic exchanges consumers appear to deal with their safety needs via the trust
mechanism, and the existence of trust appears to directly satisfy consumers’ need for
psychological safety, since “to say that A trusts B means that A expects B will not
exploit a vulnerability A has created for himself by taking the action” ( James, 2002,
Construct Definition
Firm trust An evaluative construct reflecting expectations that the firm is
dependable and can be relied on to deliver on its promises (Sirdeshmukh
et al., 2002)
Employees trust An evaluative construct reflecting perceptions pertaining to the honesty,
reliability and competence of service staff (Sirdeshmukh et al., 2002)
Place dependence The construct reflects the importance of a place in providing features
and conditions that support consumers’ goals or desired activities
(Williams and Vaske, 2003)
Place identity The symbolic importance of a place as a repository for emotions and
relationships that give meaning to life (Williams and Vaske, 2003)
Shopping enjoyment The extent to which the shopping activity is perceived to provide
reinforcement in its own right, apart from any anticipated performance
consequences (Childers et al., 2001)
Interpersonal likeability An attraction to other consumers or service staff such that the consumer
would desire to be around the other out of choice, even if shopping
activities were to terminate (Nicholson et al., 2001)
Self-expression Consumer’s perception of the degree to which the specific retailer
enhances one’s social self and/or reflects one’s inner self (Carroll and
Ahuvia, 2006)
Emotional attachment The construct includes passion for the retailer, positive evaluation of the
retailer and declarations of love for the retailer (Carroll and Ahuvia,
2006)
Word of mouth The degree to which the consumer praises the retailer to others (Carroll
and Ahuvia, 2006)
Loyalty The degree to which the consumer is committed to repurchase of the
retailer (Carroll and Ahuvia, 2006)
Attachment-related anxiety Vigilance concerning rejection and abandonment (Fraley et al., 2000).
People who score high on this construct tend to worry whether their
partner is responsive and attentive
Table II.
Construct definitions
EJM
44,9/10
1482
p. 291). In the context of grocery retailing, consumers may feel particularly vulnerable
since they undertake physical (food safety and nutritional value), psychological
(self-esteem), and financial risks in deciding to buy from a food retailer (Fearne et al.,
2001).
Hazan and Shaver (2000) suggest that for a relationship to be considered as an
attachment relationship, the attachment figure should promote the other party’s
feelings of security and confidence. May et al. (2004) suggests trust as a positive
antecedent to psychological safety. Evidence for the positive effect of trust on
emotional attachment can also be found in the social psychology literature (Burke and
Stets, 1999)
Building on Sirdeshmukh et al. (2002), this study hypothesizes that consumers’ trust
in the firm develops around two distinct facets: company policies governing the service
exchange and employee behaviors manifested during the service encounter. A major
reason for investigating separately the role of employee trust in the formation of
consumer-firm emotional attachment is the probable importance of interpersonal ties.
Building on the previous discussion the following hypotheses are formed:
H1. Consumers’ trust towards the firm positively influences consumer-firm
emotional attachment.
H2. Consumers’ trust towards the firm’s employees positively influences
consumer-firm emotional attachment.
The effect of place dependence on emotional attachment. In the grocery retailing
context, consumers’ place (e.g. community) dependence may positively influence their
attachment to stores located in their community, since place dependence relates to how
a place compares with alternative places in satisfying needs (Bricker and Kerstetter,
2000). People are likely to develop emotional bonds with stores located in settings that
do well in facilitating their particular needs (e.g. maintaining established friendship
ties) (Moore and Graefe, 1994). Based on this discussion:
H3. Consumers’ dependence on the place where the firm is operating positively
influences consumer-firm emotional attachment.
Pillar II: Gratifying the self
Brands can play powerful roles in people’s lives when people rely on them to provide
pleasure through hedonic elements that have immediate mood-altering properties. In
what follows, we identify the constructs of enjoyment and interpersonal likeability as
elements provided by the firm that have the potential to gratify a consumer’s self.
The effect of shopping enjoyment on emotional attachment. While economic theory
presents shopping as a chore that consumers perform to acquire utility-producing
products, marketing research indicates that many consumers derive intrinsic
enjoyment from the shopping process (Cox et al., 2005). Some consumers enjoy
shopping as a leisure activity or for recreation, deriving pleasure from the shopping
activity itself (Reynolds and Beatty, 1999). Since humans tend to form emotional bonds
with people who seem especially responsive to their needs (Aron et al., 1989),
enjoyment can be expected to have a positive, direct effect on consumer-firm emotional
attachment.
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1483
Bowlby (1951) suggests enjoyment as a major factor of attachment in intimate
relationships. Childers et al. (2001), in the context of interactive media usage, find
enjoyment as a direct positive determinant of affective evaluations. This study predicts
that grocery retailers providing an enjoyable shopping experience are at an advantage
in building affectionate ties with their consumers.
H4. Shopping enjoyment positively influences consumer-firm emotional
attachment.
The effect of interpersonal likeability on emotional attachment.Theservices
management literature recognizes service employees and co-consumers as important
elements in the creation of favorable consumer perceptions of service performance
(Zeithaml et al., 2006). This study assumes that the liking levels consumers develop
with respect to both front-line personnel and co-consumers have a direct positive effect
on consumers’ emotional attachments to the firm. This study defines interpersonal
likeability as the perception of consumers that both the service firm front-office
employees and their co-consumers are pleasant and enjoyable to be around (Ahearne
et al., 1999). Liking, a personal and emotional factor, has long been recognized as a
strong human motivator for relationship development and maintenance. Nicholson
et al. (2001, p. 3) suggest, “liking creates a personal attachment, thus reinforcing
economic bonds”. Therefore:
H5. Consumers’ interpersonal liking levels towards co-consumers positively
influence consumer-firm emotional attachment.
H6. Consumers’ interpersonal liking levels towards service personnel positively
influence consumer-firm emotional attachment.
Pillar III: Enriching the self
Enriching one’s self relates to self-actualization, discovering one’s true preferences and
representing the self to both oneself and others (Ahuvia, 2005). Enriching one’s self
may contain elements of identity construction and identifying the lifestyle that will
bring self-fulfillment. We argue that both self-expression through consumption and
consumers’ symbolic attachment to places positively influence consumers’ emotional
bonding levels.
The effect of self-expression on emotional attachment. Consumers are more likely to
form and maintain strong emotional attachment to firms, possessions, brands and
people that help them define themselves and retain a positive self-image (Carroll and
Ahuvia, 2006). Ahuvia (2005) investigated empirically consumers’ reports regarding
their loved possessions and activities, finding that consumers love brands that help
them resolve identity conflicts and understand who they are as people. As Belk (1988,
p. 188) succinctly suggests when he notes that “we are what we have”, self-expression
seems to be a critical human need, which consumption activities seem to satisfy.
H7. Satisfaction of consumers’ self-expressive needs positively influences
consumer-firm emotional attachment.
The effect of place identity on emotional attachment. It is expected that symbolic
attachment on the place where the firm is operating positively influences
consumer-firm emotional attachment. Place identity refers to the symbolic
EJM
44,9/10
1484
importance of a place as a repository for emotions and relationships that give meaning
and purpose to a person’s life (Williams and Vaske, 2003). Park et al. (2006) note that
place brands such as one’s city or country symbolically represent one’s core past self,
providing a basis from which one can view and frame one’s current and future selves.
H8. Consumers’ symbolic attachment on the place where the firm is operating (i.e.
place identity) positively influences consumer-firm emotional attachment.
The effect of emotional attachment on behavioral outcomes. Marketers want to move
beyond repetitive buying to consumer loyalty, namely, consumer commitment and
enduring psychological bonds between a consumer and a company (McEwen, 2005).
The study proposes that consumers who are emotionally attached to the firm will be
more committed to repurchase from the firm and more likely to positively recommend
the firm to others (Carroll and Ahuvia, 2006):
H9. Consumer-firm emotional attachment positively influences (a) consumers’
loyalty to repurchase from the firm and (b) positive word of mouth.
The moderating role of attachment anxiety. Guided by attachment theory, the present
study suggests that the effect of consumer-firm emotional attachment on loyalty and
positive word of mouth is moderated (i.e. multiplied) by consumers’ levels of
attachment anxiety.
Conceptually this hypothesis builds on the premise that consumers are
heterogeneous in their needs for relationship building (Reynolds and Beatty, 1999).
Attachment anxiety – the degree to which individuals worry and ruminate about
being rejected or abandoned by their partners is one of the two orthogonal
dimensions that appear to tap individual differences in adult attachment (Campbell
et al., 2005). Evidence indicates that consumers with higher scores on anxiety in purely
personal relationships tend to experience more positive emotions and greater
satisfaction in commercial relationships (Thomson and Johnson, 2006). This evidence
implies that highly anxious people desire positive emotions in commercial
relationships so as to make up for negative emotions experienced in purely
interpersonal relationships.
For highly anxious people, then, the saliency of consumer-firm emotional
attachment in determining loyalty and word of mouth is likely heightened. While
emotional attachment is still an important determinant of loyalty and word of mouth
for less anxious individuals, it is not as important as for highly anxious individuals.
From this discussion, one can logically conclude that:
H10. Anxiety levels moderate the effect of consumer-firm emotional attachment (a)
on behavioral loyalty and (b) on word of mouth in that high anxiety multiplies
the effect of consumer-firm emotional attachment on these two behavioral
outcomes.
Materials and methods
Empirical context
Grocery retailing was chosen as the empirical context of the study for three reasons.
First, grocery retailing is characterized by low loyalty levels, and multi-chain
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1485
patronage on the part of consumers. Building affectionate ties with consumers in this
context may be the missing loyalty link.
Second, most research on emotional attachment focuses on either product brands or
service brands characterized by hedonic consumption experiences and relational
characteristics (e.g. hair salon services). Research on transactional industries like
grocery retailing or banking is largely missing. Importantly, while hedonism may
reside innately in shopping for or consuming some products and services, it arguably
is something that may be delivered to consumers through strategy and execution.
Third, the study is supported by a Fortune 500 consumer packaged-goods company,
which for the foregoing reasons has interests in investigating consumer-retailer
emotional attachment.
Method of analysis
We have chosen PLS analysis so as to accommodate the presence of a large model and
moderating effects (Ringle et al., 2005). The primary goal of this research is to
investigate the determinants of emotional attachment, rendering prediction-based
structural equation modeling (i.e. PLS) more appropriate (Echambadi et al., 2006).
Measures and instrument design
We measured consumer-firm emotional attachment by adapting items used by Carroll
and Ahuvia (2006) and items adapted from the possessions attachment literature (see
the Appendix). Specifically, we drew from Sivadas and Venkatesh (1995) and Ball and
Tasaki (1992). We adapted items capturing the constructs of self-expression, intense
loyalty and positive word of mouth from Carroll and Ahuvia (2006), whereas we
measured firm trust and trust in employees according to Sirdeshmukh et al. (2002). We
adapted interpersonal likeability measures from Nicholson et al. (2001). Note that we
use these items to capture the likeability of consumer service employees as well as the
likeability of co-consumers. We adapted place identity and place dependence measures
from Williams and Vaske (2003). Items capturing shopping enjoyment were adapted
from Childers et al. (2001). Attachment anxiety measures were adapted from Fraley
et al. (2000). Measures were assessed using nine-point semantic differential and Likert
scales.
We employed procedural remedies to control for common method variance
(Podsakoff et al., 2003). Specifically we made use of the “proximal separation”
technique of the predictor and criterion variables (Sparfeldt et al., 2006). For item
arrangement, we employed a block rather than a random item arrangement (Sparfeldt
et al., 2006). Further, researchers intercepted respondents in seven different grocery
retailers, each in a different geographic area, to address common method variance
generated by contextual cues (Podsakoff et al., 2003).
Sampling
The population target for this study was supermarket shoppers who were inhabitants
of the broader Attica region in Greece. The sampling frame includes ten stores selected
from seven different supermarket retail chains in such a way as to offer a broad
geographical coverage of the Attica region.
Researchers collected data in low-, medium-, and high-peak shopping days (Bush
and Hair, 1985). The researchers intercepted a total of 163 respondents in supermarket
EJM
44,9/10
1486
stores, employing a face-to-face personal interviewing method. The intercept procedure
is a relatively inexpensive method of collecting high-quality, accurate data in a
face-to-face manner (Bush and Hair, 1985).
Of the respondents, 69 percent were women and 56 percent were married. The
sample was balanced in terms of age groups represented: 51 percent were in the 25-44
age group and approximately one in three was in the 44 þage group. Overall in terms
of gender, age, and marital status, the sample was representative of Greek supermarket
shoppers, as indicated by retail managers of five supermarket chains.
Results
Figure 1 reports results based on a regression-based conceptualization; Figure 2
presents results based on a second-order formative factor conceptualization. We note
that the two conceptualizations do not differ in terms of the hypotheses that wait to be
tested. The main reason for using a second-order model relates to its ability to deal
with multi-co-linearity. Despite the satisfactory VIF values found (VIF across the eight
independent variables is 2.15), multi-colinearity is likely to be a problem, due to the
large number of estimated parameters and the small sample size of the study. Further,
it should be noted that a second-order molar model makes a statement regarding the
formation process of consumer-firm emotional attachment, which is theoretically more
interesting (Chin and Gopal, 1995). The purpose of the study is not to examine this
formation process empirically. However, our research may be a good starting point for
future research on this matter.
To test the second-order formative model, we used the repeated indicators method
(Chin et al., 2003; Kleijnen et al., 2007). We first report results using the first-order
conceptualization.
Figure 1.
One-factor model based on
a regression-based
conceptualization
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1487
Assessments of validity and reliability
The reliabilities of all constructs (CR) are acceptable since they all exceed 0.70. We
investigated convergent and discriminant validity using the PLS confirmatory factor
analysis procedure (Agarwal and Karahanna, 2000). All items loaded well on their
respective factors, which are much higher than all cross loadings. Importantly, the
square root of all AVEs is much larger than all other cross-correlations, indicating
discriminant validity with the stringent test of Fornell and Larcker (1981) (see
Table III).
We use Harman’s single-factor test (Podsakoff et al., 2003) so as to examine for
common method variance. This model did not fit the data (
x
2ð703Þ¼5:158;3;
CFI ¼0:34; RMSEA ¼0:20), inferring no common method variance.
Test of hypotheses
Model estimates explain a large amount of variance in consumer-firm emotional
attachment (R2¼0:80), loyalty (R2¼0:37) and word of mouth (R2¼0:69) (see
Figure 1). Variance explained is the main model fit criterion in PLS analysis.
As predicted, trust towards the firm (b¼0:29, t¼4:40), trust towards employees
(b¼0:14, t¼2:14) and place dependence (b¼0:13, t¼2:26), significantly influence
emotional attachment; therefore H1,H2 and H3 are not rejected. Shopping enjoyment
influences emotional attachment in the predicted direction (b¼0:32, t¼5:79), but this
is not true for the likeability of consumers (b¼0:02, t¼0:72). Therefore H4 is not
rejected, whereas H5 is rejected. Likeability of employees is a significant predictor of
Figure 2.
A molar second-order
factor model
conceptualization
EJM
44,9/10
1488
CR Cronbach’s
a
Mean 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1. Attachment anxiety 0.62 0.80 4.3 0.71
2. Likeability (consumers) 0.92 0.84 4.0 0.27 0.93
3. Likeability (employees) 0.91 0.81 4.2 0.21 0.73 0.92
4. Word-of-mouth 0.96 0.93 3.7 0.18 0.52 0.55 0.94
5. Emotional attachment 0.95 0.91 3.8 0.12 0.61 0.57 0.84 0.81
6. Loyalty 0.90 0.99 2.8 0.10 0.34 0.34 0.71 0.61 0.91
7. Enjoyment 0.83 0.62 5.6 0.09 0.52 0.46 0.59 0.75 0.39 0.84
8. Place dependence 0.93 0.85 4.4 0.07 0.37 0.36 0.38 0.53 0.38 0.42 0.93
9. Place identity 0.90 0.84 4.0 0.12 0.41 0.44 0.44 0.56 0.36 0.42 0.70 0.87
10. Self-expression 0.98 0.97 2.8 0.26 0.57 0.45 0.65 0.63 0.55 0.39 0.22 0.25 0.96
11. Firm trust 0.97 0.96 6.4 0.04 0.35 0.36 0.52 0.63 0.44 0.55 0.27 0.37 0.36 0.94
12. Employees’ trust 0.97 0.96 6.3 0.04 0.39 0.61 0.41 0.47 0.34 0.39 0.32 0.47 0.34 0.64 0.96
Notes: Values on the diagonal represent the square root of AVE. Lower diagonal values indicate factor correlations. CR, composite reliability
Table III.
Descriptive statistics,
correlation matrix, and
average variance
extracted (AVE)
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1489
emotional attachment (b¼0:13, t¼1:82) and the same stands for the self-expressive
properties of the retailer brand (b¼0:30, t¼6:17). Therefore H6 and H7 are not
rejected. Place identity, positively influences emotional attachment (b¼0:17,
t¼2:70); therefore H8 is not rejected. Further, H9 is not rejected since
consumer-firm emotional attachment seems to be a strong positive determinant of
loyalty and positive word of mouth (b¼0:61, t¼10:39 and b¼0:82, t¼31:29,
respectively). These results indicate emotional attachment offers a more influential
strategy for retailers when the goal is customer attraction (i.e. through positive word of
mouth). However, this empirical conjecture requires further investigation.
As models yielding significant bootstrap statistics can still be invalid in a predictive
sense (Chin, 1995), measures of predictive validity for focal endogenous constructs
should be employed. One such measure is the Q
2
measure (i.e. the Stone-Geisser test).
Q
2
is a kind of cross-validated R
2
, representing how well observed values are
reconstructed by the parameter estimates of the model (Tenenhaus et al., 2005). Q
2
for
emotional attachment, loyalty and word of mouth is 0.53, 0.28 and 0.60, respectively,
indicating that the model’s predictive relevance is good (Sirohi et al., 1998; Tenenhaus
et al., 2005).
To test H10, we entered the multiplicative terms into the linear-only terms model
(Ping, 1998). Composite reliability for the multiplicative variable is 0.94 and AVE
equals 0.51. The square root of AVE is greater than its correlations with the other
variables, indicating discriminant validity.
To investigate whether the inclusion of the multiplicative term in the main effects
model is empirically meaningful, we used the difference of R
2
values (Ping, 1998). The
results indicate that the addition of the moderating term is empirically meaningful for
both loyalty and word of mouth (f2¼5:05, p,0:01 and f2¼4:97, p,0:01,
respectively). Attachment anxiety multiplies the effect of emotional attachment on
loyalty (b¼0:14, t¼2:41). For word of mouth, the estimate is in the predicted
direction and seems to have a weak statistical significance (b¼0:08, t¼1:59,
p,0:10). Therefore, H10 is not rejected.
Structural model results for the molar conceptualization. The measurement model
properties for the molar conceptualization all conform to accepted reliability,
convergent validity, and discriminant validity standards. AVE and composite
reliability indexes for the three newly added emergent factors are all greater than 0.55
and 0.88, respectively. The results are in accordance with the regression-based
conceptualization. Interestingly, likeability of consumers is statistically significant (see
Figure 2). Compared with the regression-based conceptualization, these results may be
attributed to lowered multi-co-linearity levels inherent in the molar conceptualization
(Chin and Gopal, 1995).
Further, the moderating effect of anxiety on the emotional attachment-word of
mouth link is no longer marginally significant (b¼0:10, t¼1:97). As predicted,
enabling consumers’ self has a positive effect on emotional attachment (b¼0:27,
t¼4:49). Similarly, gratifying consumers’ self influences emotional attachment
(b¼0:33, t¼4:69) and the same stands for the effect of enriching consumers’ self
(b¼0:39, t¼6:17). Based on these values, enrichment of consumers’ self seems to be
more important for building consumer-firm emotional attachment, and gratifying
consumers’ self is of greater importance than enabling consumers’ self.
EJM
44,9/10
1490
Discussion
Extant research under the relational paradigm indicates that consumers’
post-consumption evaluations (e.g. satisfaction judgments) represent core drivers of
consumer loyalty (Yim et al., 2008). However, while most service loyalty programs rely
on the satisfaction-trust-loyalty paradigm, consumer loyalty remains unpredictable.
To that end, our study provides a path that considers consumer-firm emotional
attachment as a major driver of consumer loyalty.
This study extends the emotional attachment literature by proposing some
antecedents of the phenomenon using the theoretical lens of attachment theory, place
attachment and brand love. Moreover, we investigate a second-order factor model,
which provides empirical support for the conceptual work of Park et al. (2006).
Specifically, we posit consumers’ self enablement, gratification and enrichment as
second-order molar constructs theoretically building from attitudinal research (e.g.
Bagozzi, 1988). This model is superior to a first-order factor model in that it makes a
statement regarding the structure of the formation process of consumer-firm emotional
attachment.
Importantly, the study is one of the first to investigate whether personality traits
matter in the emotional attachment-loyalty link. We find that consumer-firm emotional
attachment is more important in building loyalty in consumers who score high on
interpersonal anxiety levels. In what follows we summarize our findings.
Is consumer-firm emotional attachment an important strategic goal for service
providers?
Apparently so, in light of the large effect size consumer-firm emotional attachment has
on behavioral loyalty self-reports and word of mouth. Our results suggest that
managers need to begin longitudinally measuring emotional attachment levels and
conducting studies to understand whether antagonistic firm emotional attachment
moderates (i.e. weakens) their respective emotional attachment-loyalty link.
In which strategic assets should the service provider invest in order to build emotional
brand attachment?
Numerous factors determine how and to what extent consumers form emotional
attachments to service providers. The results indicate that managers interested in
building affectionate ties with consumers should focus primarily on strategies
intended to enrich consumers’ self, and that retailers can achieve such a goal through
the place identity and self-expression mechanisms.
Managers should also make tactical efforts to build consumer trust, enjoyable
shopping experiences, and service offerings that help consumers to symbolically
express themselves. Moreover, since interpersonal likeability also appears to be
important, managers should try to make their employees likeable and attractive to
consumers.
In the context of in-store grocery retailing, place attachment influences consumers’
emotional attachment. This finding suggests that managers should localize their
offerings at the community level (e.g. by posting signs that clearly indicate their stores’
locations and attachment to the neighborhood or by hiring local personnel).
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1491
Does context matter with respect to personality characteristics?
The present study incorporates the notion of consumer heterogeneity in terms of the
relationship anxiety construct, arguing in favor of a non-additive consumer-firm
emotional attachment model. The results of the present study indicate that highly
anxious consumers view emotional attachment as being important with respect to their
behavioral loyalty. Market researchers should begin to identify these segments and
strive to appeal to their emotional attachment needs.
Attachment theorists have proposed several features that distinguish attachment
relationships from other kinds of relationships (Fraley et al., 2000). For example, one
such characteristic relates to the use of the attachment figure as a secure base for
exploration that promotes feelings of security and confidence. Service managers
should try to build on such features, and many of the antecedent factors presented in
this article seem to be in accordance with these features. For example, the feature of the
attachment figure as a secure base for exploration suggests the notion of trust.
Consumers who trust their grocery retailer may feel more confident about trying new
brands and services that the grocery retailer provides.
Limitations and further research
We tested our model on cross-sectional data, which precludes any conclusions
concerning causality and probably renders the results tentative.
Another limitation of the study relates to its sample size. This limitation is
strengthened in light of the large number of parameters estimated. The length of the
survey instrument inhibited us from collecting responses from more consumers.
Future research should try cross-validating the results using larger sample sizes.
The setting of this study, grocery retailing, is characterized by limited consumer
contact and attracts consumers with price, speed of service consistency, and
convenient location. Future research could compare the results of this study with those
from other retailing sectors, especially where hedonic shopping experiences and
interaction with the sales personnel are more important (e.g. fashion retailers and
theme parks).
Pertaining to the second-order molar conceptualization used in the study, future
research should identify more first-order factors capable of forming the respective
three second-order factors. In this respect our model is theoretically suitable, since each
second-order factor is likely to be formed by more first-order factors. Our study may be
a starting point for a more exhaustive investigation of first-order factors influencing
consumers’ self-enrichment, gratification and enablement. We have suggested that the
second-order model is theoretically more interesting compared with the first-order
model since it makes a conceptual statement regarding the formation process of
consumer-firm emotional attachment. Our empirical derivations for the second-order
model are based on cross-sectional data precluding any conclusions regarding
causality. The posited formation process remains to be investigated empirically using
longitudinal data.
Satisfaction or retail store image measures were not included in this study. Future
research could investigate the antecedent role of these constructs on emotional
attachment and also compare whether emotional attachment is a more important
predictor of behavioral outcomes than satisfaction judgments and retail store image.
Further, future research should investigate the effect of emotional attachment
EJM
44,9/10
1492
behavioral outcomes beyond loyalty and word of mouth, including as consequences,
for example, constructs like willingness to pay more and complaining behavior
(Zeithaml et al., 1996). Comparisons should be made regarding the relative importance
of emotional attachment in influencing these differing managerial goals.
Finally, future research should investigate specific tactical efforts that build the
higher order antecedent factors this study presents. For example, future researchers
should investigate whether cause-related marketing actions influence consumers’ trust
and corporate character perceptions, which in turn may influence consumer-firm
emotional attachment.
References
Agarwal, R. and Karahanna, E. (2000), “Time flies when you’re having fun: cognitive absorption
and beliefs about information technology usage”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 665-94.
Ahearne, M., Gruen, T.W. and Jarvis, C.B. (1999), “If looks could sell: moderation and mediation
of the attractiveness effect on salesperson performance”, International Journal of Research
in Marketing, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 269-84.
Ahuvia, A. (2005), “Beyond the extended self: loved objects and consumers’ identity narratives”,
Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 171-84.
Albert, N., Merunka, D. and Valette-Florence, P. (2008), “When consumers love their brands:
exploring the concept and its dimensions”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 61 No. 10,
pp. 1062-75.
Aron, A.P., Dutton, D.G., Aron, E.N. and Iverson, A. (1989), “Experiences of falling in love”,
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 243-57.
Bagozzi, R.P. (1988), “The rebirth of attitude research in marketing”, Journal of the Market
Research Society, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 163-95.
Ball, D. and Tasaki, L.H. (1992), “The role and measurement of attachment in consumer
behavior”, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 155-72.
Bartholomew, K. and Horowitz, L.M. (1991), “Attachment styles among young adults: a test of a
four-category model”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 61 No. 2, pp. 226-44.
Belk, R.W. (1988), “Possessions and the extended self”, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 15
No. 2, pp. 139-68.
Bowlby, J. (1951), “Maternal care and mental health”, Bulletin of the World Health Organization,
Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 355-533.
Bowlby, J. (1979), The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds, Tavistock, London.
Bricker, K.S. and Kerstetter, D.L. (2000), “Level of specialization and place attachment:
an exploratory study of whitewater recreationists”, Leisure Sciences, Vol. 22 No. 4,
pp. 233-57.
Burke, P.J. and Stets, J.E. (1999), “Trust and commitment through self-verification”, Social
Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 62 No. 4, pp. 347-66.
Bush, A.J. and Hair, J.F. Jr (1985), “An assessment of the mall intercept as a data collection
method”, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 158-67.
Campbell, L., Simpson, J.A., Boldry, J. and Kashy, D.A. (2005), “Perceptions of conflict and
support in romantic relationships: the role of attachment anxiety”, Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, Vol. 88 No. 3, pp. 510-31.
Carroll, B. and Ahuvia, A. (2006), “Some antecedents and outcomes of brand love”, Marketing
Letters, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 79-89.
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1493
Chaudhuri, A. and Holbrook, M.B. (2001), “The chain effects from brand trust and brand affect to
brand performance: the role of brand loyalty”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 65 No. 2,
pp. 81-93.
Childers, T.L., Carr, C.L., Peck, J. and Carson, S. (2001), “Hedonic and utilitarian motivations for
online retail shopping behavior”, Journal of Retailing, Vol. 77 No. 4, pp. 511-35.
Chin, W. (1995), “Partial least squares is to LISREL as principal components analysis is to
common factor analysis”, Technology Studies, Vol. 2, pp. 315-9.
Chin, W.W. and Gopal, A. (1995), “Adoption intention in GSS: relative importance of beliefs”,
The Data Base for Advances in Information Systems, Vol. 26, May/August, pp. 42-64.
Chin, W.W., Marcolin, B.L. and Newsted, P.R. (2003), “A partial least squares latent variable
modeling approach for measuring interaction effects: results from a Monte Carlo
simulation study and an electronic mail emotion/adoption study”, Information Systems
Research, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 189-217.
Cox, A.D., Cox, D. and Anderson, R.D. (2005), “Reassessing the pleasure of store shopping”,
Journal of Business Research, Vol. 58 No. 2, pp. 250-9.
Echambadi, R., Campbell, B. and Agarwal, R. (2006), “Encouraging best practice in quantitative
management research: an incomplete list of opportunities”, Journal of Management
Studies, Vol. 43 No. 8, pp. 1801-20.
Fearne, A., Hornibrook, S. and Dedman, S. (2001), “The management of perceived risk in the food
supply chain: a comparative study of retailer-led beef quality assurance schemes in
Germany and Italy”, International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, Vol. 4
No. 1, pp. 19-36.
Fornell, C. and Larcker, D.F. (1981), “Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable
variables and measurement error”, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 39-50.
Fournier, S. (1998), “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer
research”, The Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 343-73.
Fraley, R.C., Waller, N.G. and Brennan, K.A. (2000), “An item response theory analysis of
self-report measures of adult attachment”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Vol. 78 No. 2, pp. 350-65.
Hazan, C. and Shaver, P.R. (2000), “Adult romantic attachment: theoretical developments,
emerging controversies, and unanswered questions”, Review of General Psychology, Vol. 4
No. 2, pp. 132-54.
Hazan, C. and Shaver, P.R. (1994), “Attachment as an organizational framework for research on
close relationships”, Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 1-22.
James, H.S. (2002), “The trust paradox: a survey of economic inquiries into the nature of trust and
trustworthiness”, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 47 No. 3,
pp. 291-307.
Jones, T.O. and Sasser, W.E. Jr (1995), “Why satisfied customers defect”, Harvard Business
Review, Vol. 73 No. 6, pp. 89-99.
Kleine, S.S. and Baker, S.M. (2004), “An integrative review of material possession attachment”,
Academy of Marketing Science Review, Vol. 1, pp. 1-35.
Kleijnen, M., de Ruyter, K. and Wetzels, M. (2007), “An assessment of value creation in mobile
service delivery and the moderating role of time consciousness”, Journal of Retailing,
Vol. 83 No. 1, pp. 33-46.
Kyle, G., Graefe, A. and Manning, R. (2005), “Testing the dimensionality of place attachment in
recreational settings”, Environment and Behavior, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 153-77.
EJM
44,9/10
1494
McEwen, W.J. (2005), Married to the Brand: Why Consumers Bond with Some Brands for Life,
Gallup Press, Princeton, NJ.
May, D.R., Gilson, R.L. and Harter, L.M. (2004), “The psychological conditions of meaningfulness,
safety and availability and the engagement of the human spirit at work”, Journal of
Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 77 No. 1, pp. 11-37.
Moore, R.L. and Graefe, A.R. (1994), “Attachments to recreation settings: the case of rail-trail
users”, Leisure Sciences, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 17-31.
Nicholson, C.Y., Compeau, L.D. and Sethi, R. (2001), “The role of interpersonal liking in building
trust in long-term channel relationships”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science,
Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 3-15.
Park, C.W. and MacInnis, D.J. (2006), “What’s in and what’s out: questions on the boundaries of
the attitude construct”, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 16-18.
Park, C.W., MacInnis, J. and Priester, J. (2006), “Beyond attitudes: attachment and consumer
behavior”, Seoul Journal of Business, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 3-36.
Paulssen, M. and Fournier, S. (2007), “Attachment security and the strength of commercial
relationships: a longitudinal study”, Discussion Paper No. 50, Department of Business and
Economics, Humboldt University, Berlin.
Ping, R.A. Jr (1998), “EQS and LISREL examples using survey data”, in Schumacker, R.E. and
Marcoulides, G.A. (Eds), Interaction and Nonlinear Effects in Structural Equation
Modeling, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 63-100.
Podsakoff, P.M., MacKenzie, S.B., Podsakoff, N.P. and Lee, J.-Y. (2003), “Common method biases
in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies”,
Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 88 No. 5, pp. 879-903.
Reynolds, K.E. and Beatty, S.E. (1999), “A relationship consumer typology”, Journal of Retailing,
Vol. 75 No. 4, pp. 509-23.
Ringle, C.M., Wende, S. and Will, S. (2005), “SmartPLS 2.0 M3 Beta”, available at: www.smartpls.de
Roberts, K. (2006), The Lovemarks Effect: Winning in the Consumer Revolution, PowerHouse
Books, New York, NY.
Selnes, F. (1998), “Antecedents and consequences of trust and satisfaction in buyer-seller
relationships”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 32 Nos 3/4, pp. 305-22.
Shimp, T.A. and Madden, T.J. (1988), “Consumer-object relations: a conceptual framework based
analogously on Sternberg’s triangular theory of love”, Advances in Consumer Research,
Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 163-8.
Sirdeshmukh, D., Singh, J. and Sabol, B. (2002), “Consumer trust, value, and loyalty in relational
exchanges”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 66 No. 1, pp. 15-37.
Sirohi, N., McLaughlin, E. and Wittink, D. (1998), “A model of consumer perceptions and store
loyalty intentions for a supermarket retailer”, Journal of Retailing, Vol. 74 No. 2, pp. 223-45.
Sivadas, E. and Venkatesh, R. (1995), “An examination of individual and object specific
influences on the extended self and its relation to attachment and satisfaction”, Advances
in Consumer Research, Vol. 22, pp. 406-12.
Smit, E., Bronner, F. and Tolboom, M. (2007), “Brand relationship quality and its value for
personal contact”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 60 No. 6, pp. 627-33.
Sparfeldt, J.R., Schilling, S.R., Rost, D.H. and Thiel, A. (2006), “Blocked versus randomized format
of questionnaires: a confirmatory multigroup analysis”, Educational and Psychological
Measurement, Vol. 66 No. 6, pp. 961-74.
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1495
Sternberg, R.J. (1986), “A triangular theory of love”, Psychological Review, Vol. 93 No. 2,
pp. 119-35.
Tenenhaus, M., Vinzi, V.E., Chatelin, Y. and Lauro, C. (2005), “PLS path modeling”,
Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, Vol. 48 No. 1, pp. 159-205.
Thomson, M. (2006), “Human brands: investigating antecedents to consumers’ strong
attachments to celebrities”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 70 No. 3, pp. 104-19.
Thomson, M. and Johnson, A.R. (2006), “Marketplace and personal space: investigating the
differential effects of attachment style across relationship contexts”, Psychology and
Marketing, Vol. 23 No. 8, pp. 711-26.
Thomson, M., MacInnis, D.J. and Park, C.W. (2005), “The ties that bind: measuring the strength
of consumers’ emotional attachments to brands”, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 15
No. 1, pp. 77-91.
Williams, D.R. and Vaske, J.J. (2003), “The measurement of place attachment: validity and
generalizibility of a psychometric approach”, Forest Science, Vol. 49 No. 6, pp. 830-40.
Yim, C.K., Tse, D.K. and Chan, K.W. (2008), “Strengthening customer loyalty through intimacy
and passion: roles of customer-firm affection and customer-staff relationships in services”,
Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 45 No. 6, pp. 741-56.
Zeithaml, V.A., Berry, L.L. and Parasuraman, A. (1996), “The behavioral consequences of service
quality”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 60 No. 2, pp. 31-6.
Zeithaml, V.A., Bitner, M.J. and Gremler, D.D. (2006), Services Marketing: Integrating Customer
Focus across Firms, McGraw-Hill/Irwin, New York, NY.
Further reading
Bowen, J. (1990), “Development of a taxonomy of services to gain strategic marketing insights”,
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 43-9.
Chin, W.W. (1998), “Commentary: Issues and opinion on structural equation modeling”, MIS
Quarterly, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 7-14.
Chin, W.W. and Newsted, P.R. (1999), “Structural equation modeling analysis with small samples
using partial least squares”, in Hoyle, R.H. (Ed.), Statistical Strategies for Small Sample
Research, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Gijsbrechts, E., Campo, K. and Nisol, P. (2008), “Beyond promotion-based store switching:
antecedents and patterns of systematic multiple-store shopping”, International Journal of
Research in Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 5-21.
Moorman, C., Zaltman, G. and Deshpande, R. (1992), “Relationships between providers and users
of market research: the dynamics of trust within and between organizations”, Journal of
Marketing Research, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 314-28.
Pavlou, P.A. and Gefen, D. (2005), “Building effective online marketplaces with institution-based
trust”, Information Systems Research, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 37-59.
EJM
44,9/10
1496
Appendix
Construct Loading
Relationship anxiety
All too often I worry that people close to me do not understand my needs 0.52
I worry a lot about my relationships 0.98
Consumer-firm emotional attachment
Shopping at (grocery retailer name) makes me feel good 0.83
Shopping at (grocery retailer makes) me very happy 0.89
I love shopping at (grocery retailer name) 0.81
Shopping at (grocery retailer name) is a pure delight 0.92
I am passionate about shopping at (grocery retailer name) 0.88
Shopping at (grocery retailer name) reminds me people that I love and beautiful
experiences 0.83
If I were describing myself shopping at (grocery retailer name) would likely be something I
would mention 0.84
If someone ridiculed shopping at (grocery retailer name) I would feel irritated 0.86
If someone praised shopping at (grocery retailer name) I would feel somewhat praised
myself 0.87
Probably people who know me might sometimes think of me shopping at (grocery retailer
name) when they think of me. 0.83
I would feel sorry if (grocery retailer name) stopped its operations 0.71
Interpersonal likeability (service employees)
I really like being around people working for (grocery retailer name) 0.92
Even without shopping at (grocery retailer name), I would choose to be around service
employees working at (grocery retailer name) 0.92
Interpersonal likeability (consumers)
I really like being around customers shopping at (grocery retailer name) 0.92
Even without shopping at (grocery retailer name), I would choose to be around consumers
shopping at (grocery retailer name) 0.93
Word-of-mouth
I have recommended (grocery retailer name) to lots of people 0.95
I “talk up” (grocery retailer name) to my friends 0.94
I try to convince friends to do their shopping at (grocery retailer name) 0.92
Loyalty
I’ll “do without” rather than shop at another grocery retailer 0.95
When I go grocery shopping. I don’t even think of visiting competing grocery retailer
brands 0.86
Shopping enjoyment
Shopping at (grocery retailer name) is not boring at all 0.92
I really enjoy shopping at (grocery retailer name) 0.75
Place dependence
Shopping at (name of the community where the grocery retailer is located) is more
important to me than shopping in any other place 0.94
It is important for me to do my shopping at (name of the community where the grocery
retailer is located) 0.92
(continued)Table AI.
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1497
About the authors
Pavlos A. Vlachos, PhD, is a lecturer in marketing at the Graduate School of DEREE The
American College of Greece. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in marketing and IS
journals such as Industrial Marketing Management,Journal of the Academy of Marketing
Science,International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics,Journal of Services Marketing,
International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction,The Marketing Review,Electronic
Markets,International Journal on Media Management, and European Journal of Information
Systems. His research interests include marketing models, stakeholders’ reactions to corporate
social performance and evaluation of information systems. Pavlos A. Vlachos is the
corresponding author and can be contacted at: pv@cg.gr
Aristeidis Theotokis is a PhD student at the Department of Management Science and
Technology of Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB). He is research officer in
the ELTRUN Research Center. He holds a BSc in Industrial Management and Technology from
the University of Piraeus and an MSc in Operational Research from the School of Mathematics of
University of Edinburgh. He has worked as a project manager in Almatrans SA, a transport
company, and as a Sales Assistant in Telepassport SA, a Greek telecommunications company.
His main research interests lie in the area of marketing and information systems research. His
thesis focuses on consumer adoption of technology-based services in retailing. He has published
in European Journal of Information Systems. Moreover, he is interested in consumer reactions to
innovative retail pricing tactics and corporate social responsibility issues.
Katerina Pramatari is Lecturer at the Department of Management Science and Technology of
the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) and scientific coordinator of the
ELTRUN-SCORE research group operating at the ELTRUN Research Center at AUEB. She
holds a PhD in economics and business (AUEB) from Athens University and a Master’s in
information systems from the same university. She worked as a systems analyst for Procter &
Construct Loading
Place identity
I feel (name of the community where the grocery retailer is located) is a part of me 0.86
(Name of the community where the grocery retailer is located) is very special to me 0.89
Shopping at (name of community where the grocery retailer is located) says a lot about
who I am 0.85
Self-expression
Shopping at (grocery retailer name) symbolizes the kind of person I really am inside. 0.95
Shopping at (grocery retailer name) reflects my personality 0.98
Shopping at (grocery retailer name) has a positive impact on what others think of me 0.94
Shopping at (grocery retailer name) improves the way society views me 0.96
Firm trust (grocery retailer X is)
Very undependable/very dependable 0.94
Of very low integrity/of very high integrity 0.96
Is dishonest and untrustworthy/honest and trustworthy 0.96
I do not trust at all this grocery retailer/ I completely trust this grocery retailer 0.93
Employees trust
I do not trust at all employees working (grocery retailer name)/I completely trust
employees working for (grocery retailer name) 0.97
Employees working for (grocery retailer name) are dishonest/Employees working for
(grocery retailer name) are honest 0.97
Employees working for (grocery retailer name) are incompetent/Employees working for
(grocery retailer name) are competent 0.94
Table AI.
EJM
44,9/10
1498
Gamble’s European headquarters for two years, on the development of global category
management applications, and spent another year in the marketing department of Procter &
Gamble Greece. In recent years she has participated actively in the fields of IT and marketing in
the set-up of new business ventures in the area of e-business and supply chain integration in
grocery retailing. She has won both business and academic distinctions, and has been granted
eight state and school scholarships. She has published more than 25 journal and conference
articles.
Adam Vrechopoulos is a lecturer at the Athens University of Economics and Business
(AUEB) Department of Management Science and Technology, and scientific coordinator of the
Interactive Marketing and Electronic Services (IMES) Research Group at the ELTRUN Research
Center. His research interests are digital marketing, electronic retailing and consumer behaviour
in multichannel retailing. He holds a PhD from Brunel University, an MBA from ALBA, and a
BSc in information systems from AUEB. He has participated in many research projects funded
by the EU and the Greek Government. He has published more than 50 papers in peer reviewed
journals and academic conferences, has acted as a reviewer for several international journals,
and has been a member of conferences’ scientific committees. He was the 2002 “Gold Award”
winner of the ECR Europe Academic Partnership Award. Before starting his academic career he
worked in industry in marketing, sales and project management positions.
Customer-retailer
emotional
attachment
1499
To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.com
Or visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints
... We controlled for gender, age, and income, as in Study 1, as well as for altruism (3 items, M = 4.92, SD = 1.06, a = .78; Vlachos, 2012) and goodwill toward social causes (1 item, M = 5.79, SD = 1.21; Chernev and Blair, 2015), which are relevant to customers' evaluations of CSR (Clary et al., 1998). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Co-operative managers must invest appropriately to strengthen member relationships, such as by initiating corporate social responsibility (CSR) actions or providing members with more relational benefits. This paper aims to investigate how members’ motives (collectivistic vs individualistic) might influence the effectiveness of these investments in terms of enhancing members’ trust and loyalty intentions. Design/methodology/approach This research combines an exploratory approach, based on six focus groups, with a confirmatory approach based on a field study and two scenario-based experiments. Findings Members tend to regard the two motives in contest and infer a “more CSR versus more benefits” arbitration effort by co-operatives, such that they appear to prioritize one motive over the other. Members with individualistic motives principally support co-operatives’ arbitration toward relational benefits, so the positive effects of CSR initiatives on their trust and loyalty intentions are weaker (Study 1). Both CSR and relational benefits can be more or less efficient, depending on members’ motives (Study 2). Research limitations/implications Reflecting their contrasting motives, members infer arbitration by co-operative managers, reflected in their “more CSR versus more benefits” belief. This insight and the related implications for trust and loyalty intentions have not been addressed in prior research. Practical implications Managers can avoid the negative consequences of “more CSR versus more benefits” inferences by ensuring a good fit between their investments and their members’ prevailing motives. If members have more collectivistic (cf. individualistic) motives, CSR initiatives (cf. relational benefits) enhance their trust and loyalty intentions more effectively. Originality/value This research builds on previous work on members’ relationships within co-operatives and on members’ motives. Results find that the effectiveness of co-operatives’ investments to strengthen members’ loyalty intentions depends on members’ prior motives.
... Companies' efforts are seen as acts of zeal and kindness evident to all interested parties, not just for the group destined to receive such benefits [41]. However, when it comes to philanthropic actions, consumers must perceive that such acts developed by the company are part of their values so that they do not confuse the idea that the company has these attitudes to obtain returns arising from this practice [42]. ...
Article
Several studies explored the effect of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on marketing. However, bibliometric research that organizes this production is scarce. Thus, this study aims to provide a bibliometric view of marketing-related CSR research, identifying this field’s state-of-the-art literature. Two thousand and forty-two articles were collected through the Web of Science (WoS) platform. Data were analyzed using VOSviewer software to map the data graphically. The results show that: (a) the literature on CSR in the marketing area is growing; (b) five articles alone accounted for 9940 citations, and there are several prolific authors; (c) the prominent journals identified in this research published 42.16% of the total; (d) The “Journal of Business Ethics” is the leader in the number of publications, followed by “Sustainability,” which has shown strong growth in recent years, and; (e) The US is the leading country, according to the number of articles and citations. The keyword trending network analysis revealed that CSR is becoming a strategic marketing approach for companies. This study offers an insight into the state-of-the-art and trends identification in CSR and marketing.
... Companies' efforts are seen as acts of zeal and kindness evident to all interested parties, not just for the group destined to receive such benefits [41]. However, when it comes to philanthropic actions, consumers must perceive that such acts developed by the company are part of their values so that they do not confuse the idea that the company has these attitudes to obtain returns arising from this practice [42]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Several studies explored the effect of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on marketing. However, bibliometric research that organizes this production is scarce. Thus, this study aims to provide a bibliometric view of marketing-related CSR research, identifying this field’s state-of-the-art literature. Two thousand and forty-two articles were collected through the Web of Science (WoS) platform. Data were analyzed using VOSviewer software to map the data graphically. The results show that: (a) the literature on CSR in the marketing area is growing; (b) five articles alone accounted for 9940 citations, and there are several prolific authors; (c) the prominent journals identified in this research published 42.16% of the total; (d) The “Journal of Business Ethics” is the leader in the number of publications, followed by “Sustainability,” which has shown strong growth in recent years, and; (e) The US is the leading country, according to the number of articles and citations. The keyword trending network analysis revealed that CSR is becoming a strategic marketing approach for companies. This study offers an insight into the state-of-the-art and trends identification in CSR and marketing.
... Later, attachment to specific others finds expression in romantic relationships and/or friendships (Hazan & Shaver, 1987). Evidence shows that attachment can extend beyond interpersonal relationships (Pozharliev et al., 2021;Vlachos, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Smartphones have evolved to be among the most important objects in peoples’ daily lives. However, little knowledge exists on users’ relationships with smartphones. This study examines the user‐smartphone relationship from an attachment perspective. More specifically, the present research develops an understanding of the different faces of smartphone attachment considering the perceived value‐in‐use of smartphones as a source. The findings of an online survey among smartphone users reveal that users are attached to the smartphone itself because of the value it derives during usage. Most interestingly, the effects of perceived value‐in‐use have been found to be ambivalent because they can enhance both positive (e.g., passion) and negative (e.g., separation distress) aspects of smartphone attachment. Moreover, specific compositions of the value‐in‐use define the individual facets of smartphone attachment. For instance, passion has been found to be determined by social, hedonic, and utilitarian value‐in‐use, whereas distress is triggered by both perceived utilitarian and hedonic value‐in‐use. In sum, this study’s findings help to understand and manage consumers’ smartphone attachment.
... 2.1 Skepticism and reliance on online reviews A skeptic is someone who is "highly sensitive to negative evidence but ignores positive evidence" (Hogarth and Einhorn, 1992, p. 40). Skepticism has been previously studied in marketing within the contexts of purchase behavior (Goh and Balaji, 2016), corporate social responsibility messages (Vlachos, 2012;Zhang and Hanks, 2017), taxonomic versus thematic partnerships (Mendini et al., 2018), cause-related marketing (Vlachos et al., 2016) and online reviews (Sher and Lee, 2009). Past research primarily focuses on understanding both the reasons behind consumer skepticism and how consumers with different degrees of skepticism evaluate online reviews. ...
Article
Purpose Despite skepticism, consumers rely on online reviews for their purchase decisions. However, academics mostly argue that skepticism has an inverse relationship with consumer decision-making. This study aims to investigate the relationship among skepticism, reliance and consumer purchase decisions in an online review context. It also investigates the moderating role of review self-efficacy and regulatory focus in the relationship between skepticism and reliance on online reviews. Design/methodology/approach A survey with a nationally representative sample and two experimental studies are conducted. Findings Skepticism negatively affects consumers’ reliance on online reviews and reliance on online reviews mediates the relationship between skepticism and review-based purchase decisions. High review self-efficacy participants tend to rely more on online reviews than low review self-efficacy participants. Promotion-focused people rely more on online reviews than prevention-focused people, despite similar levels of skepticism. Research limitations/implications The findings contribute to the skepticism, self-efficacy and regulatory focus literature. The general framework of the relationship among skepticism, reliance and purchase decision is also applicable in an online review context. Originality/value The results provide evidence of a stronger reliance on online reviews of high review self-efficacy and promotion-oriented consumers compared to low review self-efficacy and prevention-oriented consumers.
... Meskipun memiliki arti penting, CSR masih kurang memiliki definisi generalisasi dari jenisnya (Green dan Peloza, 2011). Untuk menjelaskan fenomena CSR, berbagai penulis telah memberikan definisi dan perspektif teoritis CSR yang berbeda (Vlachos, 2012). Carroll (1991) mendefinisikan CSR sebagai hierarki dari 4 tingkat tanggung jawab: komponen ekonomi, hukum, etika dan filantropis. ...
Article
This study aims to measure the effect of CSR on Corporate Image. The research approach used explanatory research analysis. The sample of this research is people who know about CSR which is applied in cigarette companies. The implementation of CSR for cigarette companies is important as a form of contribution to society. However, the implementation of CSR in cigarette companies is still considered as part of a promotional strategy alone. The debate on the application of CSR to the cigarette industry is an interesting part to discuss. The results of this study reveal that CSR is a determining factor in shaping and strengthening a company's image. In addition, the findings in this study confirm that Altruistic Responsibility which focuses on improving the welfare of the community will have a big impact on the company, the role of Altruistic Responsibility as a component of CSR that shapes the company's image will have an impact on company profitability, logistical support, and strengthen public trust.
Chapter
The Pandemic leads to different changes in the daily life such as eating, smoking behavior. The study mainly focused to comparatively analyze the change of eating and smoking behavior during lockdown among the people of Gujranwala, Mumbai and New York and also highlight what significant changes come in life due to pandemic. The study is cross national study and quantitative in nature. The survey method was used for data collection. The data was collected through Google survey from. The population of this study was people who belong to Gujranwala, Mumbai and New York and sample sized of 450 people were selected by using convenience sampling technique. The study results showed that participants of these three cities recorded changes in their eating and smoking behavior during pandemic. Most of the respondent’s weight were observed increased. They started eating extra food against their normal routine. The study results also noted that people have also changed their smoking behavior. They increased the frequency of smoking per day in confinement. The study also found that people spent more time with their family after the pandemic, because government of these three countries imposed a lockdown. The study concluded that Covid-19 effect on smoking and eating behavior negatively.
Article
Purpose Given the growing prevalence of gun control policies in service settings, this study aims to investigate how the adoption of a gun control policy by a service businesses influences consumers’ evaluations of the service businesses. Design/methodology/approach Three experiments were conducted to examine how the adoption of a gun control policy by a service businesses influences consumers’ brand favorability of that service businesses and how value congruence (i.e. the alignment between a consumer’s own personal values and perceptions of the brand’s values) is the underlying mechanism. Findings This study documents several major findings. First, the authors find that the adoption of a gun control policy by a service businesses increases consumers’ brand favorability. Second, the authors highlight a boundary condition to this effect, such that a gun control policy actually decreases consumers’ brand favorability for people high (vs low) in support for gun rights. Third, the authors show that value congruence is the psychological process underlying these effects. Fourth, the authors generalize the focal effects to a real-world brand and demonstrate that the adoption of a gun control policy increases brand favorability for consumers low (vs high) in patronage behavior of the brand. Finally, the authors find that a pioneer brand strategy in the adoption of a gun control policy significantly increases brand favorability, whereas a follower brand strategy in the adoption of such a policy is less effective. Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this research is the first to provide critical insight to service businesseses as to how their position regarding guns influences consumers’ evaluations of the service businesses.
Article
Full-text available
Creating shared value has been a new strategic management paradigm for professional sport teams around the world. However, despite the active participation of professional sport teams in creating a shared value program, research that addresses its effectiveness appears to be very limited. The present study investigates the influence of sport fans’ perceived creating shared value on team trust and fan loyalty and the moderating effects of sport fans’ altruism on the relationship between creating shared value and team trust in the Korean professional volleyball league. A total of 198 Korean volleyball fans participated in the present study. Results revealed that sport fans’ perceived economic and social values had significant impacts on team trust and, in turn, team trust significantly affected fan loyalty. However, the moderating effect of sport fans’ altruism was not found on the relationships between creating shared value and team trust. Consequently, the present study’s findings may provide professional sport teams’ marketers with the rationale as to the effectiveness of launching creating shared value programs.
Article
Purpose While past studies have shown that corporate social responsibility (CSR) influences brand equity, loyalty and brand attitudes, research about CSR effects on the responsible and active dimensions of brand personality remains limited. This study aims to address this gap and examine how brands with different personality strength benefit from CSR communication, providing novel insights about CSR’s branding payoffs to firms. Design/methodology/approach Three experiments were conducted. Study 1 tested if CSR communication influenced responsible and active brand personality dimensions compared to non-CSR communication. Study 2 examined how varying CSR spending allocations affect personality perceptions of weak and strong brands. Studies 1 and 2 measured responsible and active brand personalities before and after exposure to experimental manipulations, assessing immediate changes in brand personality. Study 3 replicated the results of Study 2 using fictitious brands whose initial brand personalities were manipulated as either weak or strong. Findings CSR communication has the potential to influence brands’ responsible and active personalities compared to non-CSR communication. However, changes in brand personalities were contingent on CSR manipulations (smaller vs larger CSR spending) and initial brand strength. Brands that lacked strongly responsible and strong active personalities experienced an improvement in these perceptions after exposure to any CSR spending message. However, brands with strong responsible or strong active personalities experienced brand erosion after exposure to smaller CSR spending message or no improvement when the CSR message was aligned with the responsible and active conduct (e.g. mentioned larger CSR spending). Originality/value This study is the first to examine how CSR affects brand personality. By combining signalling and attitude change/congruity principle theories, it provides novel theoretical contributions to explain when CSR can improve, erode or exert no effect on the responsible and active brand personalities, providing insights for effective brand management.
Article
Full-text available
If service quality relates to retention of customers at the aggregate level, as other research has indicated, then evidence of its impact on customers’ behavioral responses should be detectable. The authors offer a conceptual model of the impact of service quality on particular behaviors that signal whether customers remain with or defect from a company. Results from a multicompany empirical study examining relationships from the model concerning customers’ behavioral intentions show strong evidence of their being influenced by service quality. The findings also reveal differences in the nature of the quality-intentions link across different dimensions of behavioral intentions. The authors’ discussion centers on ways the results and research approach of their study can be helpful to researchers and managers.
Article
The statistical tests used in the analysis of structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error are examined. A drawback of the commonly applied chi square test, in addition to the known problems related to sample size and power, is that it may indicate an increasing correspondence between the hypothesized model and the observed data as both the measurement properties and the relationship between constructs decline. Further, and contrary to common assertion, the risk of making a Type II error can be substantial even when the sample size is large. Moreover, the present testing methods are unable to assess a model's explanatory power. To overcome these problems, the authors develop and apply a testing system based on measures of shared variance within the structural model, measurement model, and overall model.