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The Customers’ Brand Identification with Luxury Hotels: A Social Identity Perspective.

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This study explores the relationships between the consumer-brand identification (CBI) construct and the customers’ satisfaction, commitment, trust and loyalty toward hospitality brands. The methodology included a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) that assessed the reliability and validity of previous tried and tested measures in marketing sciences. This study has supported the scales' content validity. A two-step structural equation modelling approach was used to analyze the relationships among the latent and observed constructs. The findings have reported a satisfactory fit for this study's research model. The empirical results shed light on the direct and indirect effects on brand loyalty. This contribution implies that brand trust had the highest effect on brand loyalty, and this was followed my other determinants, including; consumer-brand identification, consumer satisfaction and commitment. In conclusion, this paper identifies its research limitations and puts forward possible research avenues.
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1
The Customers’ Brand Identification with Luxury Hotels: A
Social Identity Perspective
By R.A. Rather
1
, University of Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, INDIA, and
Mark Anthony Camilleri
2
, University of Malta, MALTA and University of Edinburgh,
SCOTLAND.
This is a pre-publication version.
How to Cite:
Rather, R.A. & Camilleri, M.A. (2019). The Customers’ Brand Identification with
Luxury Hotels: A Social Identity Perspective. In Harrison, T. & Brennan, M. (Eds.) 2019 AMS
World Marketing Congress. University of Edinburgh, Scotland (July 2019). Academy of Marketing
Science.
ABSTRACT
This study explores the relationships between the consumer-brand identification (CBI)
construct and the customers’ satisfaction, commitment, trust and loyalty toward hospitality
brands. The methodology included a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) that assessed the
reliability and validity of previous tried and tested measures in marketing sciences. This study
has supported the scales' content validity. A two-step structural equation modelling approach
was used to analyze the relationships among the latent and observed constructs. The findings
have reported a satisfactory fit for this study's research model. The empirical results shed light
on the direct and indirect effects on brand loyalty. This contribution implies that brand trust
had the highest effect on brand loyalty, and this was followed my other determinants, including;
consumer-brand identification, consumer satisfaction and commitment. In conclusion, this
paper identifies its research limitations and puts forward possible research avenues.
Keywords: Social Identify Theory, Brand Loyalty, Customer-brand Identification,
Satisfaction, Commitment, Trust, Hospitality.
INTRODUCTION
1
The Business School, University of Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, INDIA. Email: r.raouf18@gmail.com
2
Department of Corporate Communication, Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences, University of Malta,
Msida, MSD2080, MALTA. Email: mark.a.camilleri@um.edu.mt
The Business School, University of Edinburgh, Bucchleuch Place, Edinburgh, EH89JS, SCOTLAND.
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Relevant theoretical underpinnings on the social identity theory (SIT) suggests that the
consumers’ self-expressions are somewhat associated with their relationships with firms and
brands (Rather & Hollebeek, 2019; Fujita, Harrigan & Soutar, 2018; Elbedweihy,
Jayawardhena, Elsharnouby & Elsharnouby, 2016; So, King & Sparkes, 2014; So, King,
Sparks & Wang, 2013; Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003). For this reason, this paper relied on the SIT
perspective to explore the consumer-brand relationships (Elbedweihy et al., 2016; Lam,
Ahearne, Mullins, Hayati, & Schillewaert, 2013; Ahearne, Bhattacharya & Gruen 2005).
The individual consumers form part of a social group who regularly experience the delivery of
services (Fujita et al., 2018; Huang, Cheng, & Chen, 2017; Elbedweihet al., 2016; So et al.,
2013; Kuenzel & Halliday, 2008; Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003). Hence, the service brands can
be considered as the facilitators of the consumers’ social identity and expression as individuals
can identify with brands if they perceive that they match their self-concept (Stokburger-Sauer,
Ratneshwar, & Sen, 2012; Homburg, Wieseke & Hoyer, 2009). In a similar vein, the customer-
brand identification (CBI) concept describes the relationships between the brands and their
customers, as it explicates how the brands relate to the individuals’ self-concept (Martinez &
Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013). Many brands are increasingly looking after their existing
customers by satisfying their various needs, wants and desires (Chaudhuri & Holbrook, 2001;
Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014). They do so to retain their existing customers. The
loyal customers are usually willing to pay more, spend more and recommend more than new
prospects (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014; Harris & Goode, 2004).
The subject of brand loyalty has been explored extensively in the marketing literature. Past
studies have often focused on the antecedents of loyalty, including; customer satisfaction
(Popp & Woratschek, 2017), trust (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014; So et al., 2013),
perceived service quality (So et al., 2013), commitment (Narteh, Agbemabiese, Kodua, &
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Braimah, 2013; Su, Swanson, Chinchanachokchai, Hsu, & Chen, 2016), customer engagement
(Rather, Hollebeek & Islam, 2019; So et al., 2014), as well as perceived value (So et al., 2013),
among other constructs. Notwithstanding, CBI has been investigated in different research
contexts, and has often yielded contradictory results. For instance, Su et al. (2016) indicated
that brand identification was not significant in predicting customer loyalty. While other studies
suggested that the relationship between customer retention, word-of-mouth and loyalty were
positive and significant (Kuenzel & Halliday, 2008); other research reported that there is a
correlation between CBI and customer loyalty (Rather & Hollebeek, 2019; Martinez &
Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013; 2014). However, the literature did not devote sufficient attention
to discover the antecedents of CBI, albeit a few exceptions (Su et al., 2016; So et al., 2013;
Keh & Xie, 2009).
Research Question
Previous theoretical underpinnings and empirical studies have contributed to advancing our
knowledge on brand loyalty and customer-brand relationships (Ahearne et al., 2005;
Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003; Fujita et al., 2018; He, Li, & Harris, 2012; So et al., 2013).
However, there is still a gap in the extent literature that explores CBI by using the social identity
perspective (Ahearne, et al., 2005; Choo, Park, & Petrick, 2011; Elbedweihy et al., 2016; He
et al., 2012; Martinez and Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014; Popp & Woratschek, 2017; So et al.,
2013; Su et al., 2016). Hence, this paper addresses this lacuna in academic literature. The aim
of this study is to provide further empirical evidence on the CBI construct (Keh & Xie, 2009;
Su et al., 2016). To the best of our knowledge, few studies have combined the social identity
theory with social exchange factors to explain the determinants of hotel brand loyalty. Many
researchers maintain that by incorporating the social identity (Rindfleisch, Burroughs, &
Wong, 2009; Homburg et al., 2009; Tajfel & Turner, 1986) and the service dynamics (Harris
& Goode, 2004; Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014) they would better understand the
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psychological processes that are linked to brand loyalty. Prior empirical studies in the
hospitality context did not incorporate certain aspects of brand loyalty, including the mediating
effects of commitment, satisfaction and trust. Hence, this research differentiates itself from
other contributions; by building on the foundations of previous research on the social identity
perspective of customer-brand loyalty. However, it considers the direct and indirect effects of
social exchange variables from the marketing science literature, to explore the causal path from
CBI to brand loyalty. In sum, this study addresses the following research questions: (i) How is
CBI related to customer satisfaction? (ii) How is CBI related to trust? (iii) Is CBI different from
customer commitment? (iv) Are CBI, customer satisfaction and commitment influencing brand
loyalty?
LITERATURE REVIEW
Customer-brand Identification
Hospitality and tourism researchers have described CBI as an important, yet under-utilized
construct (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003; Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013). Identification
takes place when individuals consider themselves as psychologically entangled with the
characteristics of the group (So et al., 2013). Academic research has consensually defined CBI
as a customer’s psychological state of perceiving, valuing and feeling his or her belongingness
with a brand (Lam et al., 2013). Customers do not only have a personal identity. They also
possess a social identity (Choo et al., 2011). Therefore, persons could identify with firms even
if they lack a formal membership with them. Since consumers have a need for building their
sense of self (self-definition), they may usually express, identify and relate themselves with
brands (Keh & Xie, 2009; Choo et al., 2011). Bhattacharya and Sen (2003) have suggested that
strong customer-company relationships are initially based on the customers’ identification with
the firms. The firms satisfy one or more of the individuals; self-definitional needs (e.g., self-
continuity, self-enhancement and self-distinctiveness). This argumentation reflects the social
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identity theory as well as the organizational identification theory, as these theoretical
underpinnings shed light on the customers’ relationships with brands/companies. Thus, the
higher the identification with a brand or organization, the more the customer is expected to be
content with the firms’ offerings/services. This will in turn lead to positive outcomes,
including; positive word-of-mouth, willingness to try new products/services, and resilience to
negative publicity, and the like (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003; Underwood, Bond & Baer, 2001).
Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty has also been recognized as a significant indicator of marketing success in
various industries, including hospitality and tourism (Liat, Mansori, Chuan, & Imrie, 2017;
Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014; So et al., 2013). This construct has emerged as one
of the most imperative goals of marketing and has proved to be one of the central drivers of
profit (Camilleri, 2018; Narteh et al., 2013; Popp & Woratschek, 2017). It combines both
attitudes and behaviors (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014). Loyalty incorporates the
customers’ revisit/repurchase intention (behavioral loyalty) as well as their willingness and
positive tendencies to recommend the business to other prospects (Jani & Han, 2011). These
favorable behaviors and attitudes represent two essential aspects of customer loyalty (Martinez
& Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013). Thus, brand loyalty may often reflect the attitudinal as well
as the behavioral aspects of repeat customers.
Trust
Both trust and commitment are considered by various researchers as the pillars of relationship
marketing because these constructs can result in desirable outcomes for the business (Morgan
& Hunt, 1994). The relationship marketing theory suggests that; trust and commitment are
central mediators between corporate activities and customer loyalty (Chaudhuri & Holbrook,
2001; Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013). Trust has often been defined as the level of
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confidence among different parties. It involves relational qualities such as integrity, honesty,
benevolence, consistency, and competency (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). In this study, trust
comprises two major components: (1) benevolence trust, as well as (2) performance or
credibility trust.
Commitment
Commitment is often considered as one of the relationship marketing concepts (Hennig-
Thurau, Gwinner, & Gremler, 2002; Morgan & Hunt, 1994). This construct also has its roots
in the social exchange theory. Moorman, Zaltman, and Deshpande (1992) defined commitment
as “an enduring desire to maintain a valued relationship” (p. 316). In addition, several
researchers have verified that both trust and commitment are vital factors that can make or
break long-term relationships among business partners (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2002; Morgan
& Hunt, 1994). Therefore, this study builds on the extant literature as it defines customer
commitment as the willingness of different parties to nurture genuine relationships (Morgan &
Hunt, 1994).
Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is yet another, indispensable relationship marketing concept. It has been
related to the overall evaluation of performance of a company and is often perceived as a prime
objective for managers (Anderson, Fornell & Lehmann, 1994). Satisfaction is a strong predictor
of intentions to revisit a service provider in the future. The level of customer satisfaction on
products and services will have an effect on their behavioral intention to re-purchase them
(Song, Van der Veen & Chen. 2011; Bai, Law & Wen, 2008). It can also lead individuals to
make positive recommendations and referrals (Su et al., 2016; Liat et al., 2017).
Customer-Brand Identification and Customer Commitment
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Martinez and Rodriguez del Bosque (2013) held that there was a research gap on CBI in the
marketing literature. They also argued that this construct is closely related to other social
exchange variables like customer commitment. Keh and Xie (2009) recommended that both
identification and commitment portray the strong linkage between corporate reputation and the
individuals’ behavioral intention. Ashforth & Mael (1989) suggested that identification reveals
the individuals’ self-definition, while commitment does not. As commitment is conceptualized
as an attitude with the company, identification is a cognitive construct which reveals the extent
to which the corporate features are entangled in the consumers’ self-concept (Ashforth & Mael,
1989). Previous research reported that consumers’ identification with the brand is a crucial
variable for the development of their commitment (Keh &Xie, 2009; Tuskej, Golob & Podnar,
2013). This argumentation leads to our first hypothesis:
Hypothesis One: Customer-brand identification is positively associated with commitment.
Customer-Brand Identification and Customer Satisfaction
To date, there were limited empirical studies that have incorporate customer satisfaction and
CBI (Rather & Hollebeek, 2019; Rather et al., 2019; Popp & Woratschek, 2017). However,
CBI has recently been identified as a critical variable that predicts customer-brand
relationships. The customers may identify themselves with the brands that satisfy their needs
and wants (Camilleri, 2017; Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003; He & Li, 2011). On the other hand, if
the customers’ expectations are not satisfied, they will not engage with the brand (Chaudhuri
& Holbrook, 2001). Thus, this argumentation suggests that those customers who exhibit
stronger levels of identification with the firm will probably experience increased satisfaction
levels. Hence, we hypothesize:
Hypothesis Two: Customer-brand identification has a positive relationship with satisfaction
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Customer-Brand Identification and Brand Trust
Previous tourism and hospitality research did not focus enough on the direct influence of
customer-brand identification or brand congruence on trust, or on consumers’ attachment with
the brands and their trust towards the brand (So et al., 2013). For instance, the affluent
customers would probably trust prestige brands, as they may be congruent with their self-image
(Han & Hyun, 2013). Similarly, this argumentation can be extended to the CBI concept. Thus,
we maintain that:
Hypothesis Three: Customer-brand identification is positively associated with brand trust
Customer-Brand Identification and Brand Loyalty
There have been few theoretical underpinnings that have linked the customer-brand
identification with the consumers’ loyalty towards brands (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque,
2013, 2014; So et al., 2013). Previous literature suggested that the social identity can influence
the individuals’ cognitions, perceptions and evaluation of products and services (Fujita et al.,
2018; Tajfel & Turner, 1986). Therefore, the customers’ identification with a service offering
or a brand can trigger positive outcomes, like increased brand loyalty (Kuenzel & Halliday,
2008; Underwood et al., 2001). The customers who identify themselves with the firms would
not only acquire products from them, but may also develop a closer relationship with them
(Camilleri, 2018; Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003). Hence, we put forward the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis Four: Customer-brand identification positively impacts brand loyalty.
Customer Satisfaction and Customer Commitment
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When customers are satisfied with their brand experience, they may usually feel a positive
attitude toward the brand. As a result, they may be intrigued to engage in a relationship with
the brand (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013. Liat et al., 2017). Prior research found that
the customers continuously evaluate their experiences with brands (Bowden, 2009). Hence, the
satisfied customers will feel committed toward the brand (Sung & Campbell, 2009; Morgan &
Hunt, 1994). This leads to our fifth hypothesis.
Hypothesis Five: Customer satisfaction has a positive association with customer commitment.
Brand Trust and Customer Commitment
The consumer trust is an antecedent of brand commitment as it is prerequisite for customer-
brand relationships with customers (Camilleri, 2018; Morgan & Hunt, S.1994; Moorman et al.,
1992). Several studies consistently reiterate that trust leads to commitment (Keh & Xie, 2009).
Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque (2014) also maintained that trust is one of the most important
antecedents of customer-brand relationships, in the context of upscale hotels. Hence, this study
proposes that trust would have a positive influence on customer commitment.
Hypothesis Six: Brand trust will positively impact hotel customer commitment.
Customer Satisfaction and Brand Trust
There is a close relationship between satisfaction and trust (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque,
2013). The customers’ satisfaction is an essential driver of brand trust (Bowden, Dagger, &
Elliott, 2013). Brand trust is evidenced when the customers engage in a relationship with
businesses as they regularly use the firms’ products or services (Bowden et al., 2013). The
consumers’ relationships with the businesses, as well as their ongoing satisfactory experiences
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with their products or services will inevitably have an effect on their brand trust (Martinez &
Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013). Hence, we argue that customer satisfaction leads to brand trust.
Hypothesis Seven: Customer satisfaction has been positively associated with brand trust.
Customer Commitment and Brand Loyalty
The consumers’ commitment toward the brand positively influence their behaviours.
Moreover, the loyal consumers will usually demonstrate greater levels of brand commitment
(Su et al., 2016; Narteh et al., 2013). Similarly, the customer commitment has been identified
to be one of the antecedents of hotel brand loyalty (Narteh et al., 2013). Hence, we hypothesise
that the customers’ commitment towards the hospitality brand is an important driver for their
brand loyalty.
Hypothesis Eight: Customer commitment has been positively related to brand loyalty.
Customer Satisfaction and Brand Loyalty
Several academic studies have examined the relationship between consumer satisfaction on the
products or services they acquired with their loyalty towards the brand (Song et al., 2011;
Caruana, 2002). There were also a number of empirical studies in the tourism and hospitality
context; that have proved that there was a positive relationship between customer satisfaction
and loyalty (Liat et al., 2017; Nam, Ekinci & Whyatt, 2011). Other findings did not establish a
significant relationship between satisfaction and loyalty (Al-Wugayan, Pleshko & Baqer,
2008). Therefore, this study investigates this relationship, as we hypothesise the following:
Hypothesis Nine: Customer satisfaction has been positively related to hotel brand loyalty.
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Brand Trust and Brand Loyalty
Previous literature suggested that the consumers’ loyalty towards brands is related to their trust
in those brands (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014; Narteh et al., 2013). Trust is also
considered an important determinant for building relationships in the hospitality context
(Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013). The positive relationships among relational
constructs, including; trust and commitment with brand loyalty has often been proved in the
marketing literature (Huang, 2017; Hennig-Thurau et al., 2002
;
Chaudhuri & Holbrook, 2001).
The consumers trust leads to improved relationships with businesses, that may accentuate
brand loyalty (He et al., 2012; Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Recently, Su et al. (2016) have also
examined the influence of CBI on the consumers’ repurchase intensions as they explored the
effects of the consumers’ satisfaction and commitment as mediating variables. In a similar vein,
we posit that customer commitment, customer satisfaction and brand trust could mediate the
effects of CBI on hotel brand loyalty. This, leads to the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis Ten: Brand trust has a positive relationship with brand loyalty.
Hypothesis Eleven: Customer commitment, trust and satisfaction mediate the relationship
between CBI and hotel brand loyalty.
The Research Model
This study is based on the conceptual developments appertaining to: (i) the social identity
theory, (ii) customer relationship marketing theory, as well as (iii) the customer satisfaction
model of expectation disconfirmation theory. Firstly, CBI explains the motivations why
individuals relate to firms. This is consistent with reasoning behind the social identity theory
(SIT) (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). SIT suggests that people are inclined to associate themselves
with successful groups, particularly when such affiliation offers them higher status or a better
identity (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003). Social identity has cognitive, affective, and evaluative
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elements that are activated in different social realities (Fujita et al., 2018). Secondly, the
customer relationship marketing theory explains how the customer-brand relationships may or
may not improve the brand equity and could therefore contribute to an increase or a decrease
in the firm’s profitability (Camilleri, 2018). In the hospitality context, upscale hotel brands are
increasingly nurturing relationships with profitable customers as they help them to improve
their bottom line (Camilleri, 2017; So et al., 2013; Su et al., 2016). Thirdly, the customer
satisfaction model of expectation disconfirmation theory suggests that the consumers are more
satisfied and content, when the businesses or brands would exceed their expectations
(Camilleri, 2017; Oliver, 1997). In this light, this study, explores the relationships between five
constructs, including; customer-brand identification, customer satisfaction, customer
commitment, customer trust and brand loyalty, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 The Research Model
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The Measures
The research participants were expected to indicate the extent of their agreement with the
survey items, in a seven-point Likert scale. The responses ranged from 1= “strongly disagree”
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to 7= “strongly agree”, where 4 signaled an indecision. This study adapted valid and reliable
measures that were tried and tested in academia. There were four items appertaining to
Customer-brand Identification (So et al., 2013), Customer Satisfaction (Martinez & Rodriguez
del Bosque, 2013), Customer Commitment (Su et al., 2016), Brand Trust (So et al., 2013).
Moreover, it relied on six items to measure Brand Loyalty (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque,
2014).
At the preliminary stage, the questionnaire was pre-tested by four hospitality managers and by
three marketing academics to confirm that the survey items were clear and comprehensible for
the respondents (Hair, Black, Babin, & Anderson, 2010). Their responses suggested that the
measuring items were understandable. The respondents were given the opportunity to seek
further explanations regarding the questionnaires’ content to further reduce the errors related
to the measurement. This has helped the researchers to improve the validity of this study.
Data Collection
Data was collected from hotel guests who stayed in four or five-star accommodation
establishments that belonged to one of the hotel chains, including; Vivanta by Taj, Grand
Lalith, Khyber Resorts, Radisson Blu, Best Western, Holiday Inn and Hyatt. The study was
carried out in six Indian cities, namely; Srinagar, Gulmarg, Phalgam, Jammu, Katra and
Amritsar. The questionnaires were distributed to customers at different times of the day, over
a five-week period. There were 345 respondents out of one thousand and sixty who have
voluntarily decided to take part in this study.
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ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
The Socio-Demographic Profile of the Respondents
A descriptive analysis of the respondents indicates that 54% were male while 46% were female.
The majority of the respondents were between 31 and 50 years of age (n=221). Most of them
decided to stay in a four-star accommodation establishment (n=231), as illustrated in Table 1.
Interestingly, one third of the respondents were repeat (loyal) customers.
Table 1 Demographic Profile and Travel Behaviour of the Respondents
Gender N % Hotel Brand N %
Female
160
46
Four Star
231
67
Male 185 54 Five Star 114 33
Total 345 100 Total 345 100
Age N % Customer Status N %
21
-
30
74
21
First Time Customer
235
68
31
-
40
130
3
7
Repeat Customer
111
32
41-50 91 27 Total 346 100
51-60 45 13
61-70 5 1
Over 71 0 0
Total 345 100
Descriptive Analysis
Generally, the respondents indicated that they agreed with the survey items, except for the CBI
construct, as reported in Table 2. Moreover, the standard deviations indicated that there was a
narrow spread of participants’ responses, ranging from 0.4 to 1.47, indicating a narrow spread
around the mean.
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Table 2 Measurement items, mean, standard deviation and squared multiple correlation
Construct SL M SD SMC
Customer-brand Identification (CBI)
It feels like a personal insult when someone criticizes this
brand
0.81
3.06 1.47 0.65
When I refer to this brand, I usually say “my” rather than
“they”
0.86
3.95 1.43 0.74
This brand’s successes are my successes
0.90
4.16
1.32
0.81
When someone praises this brand, it feels like a personal
compliment
0.85
4.79 1.12 0.72
Brand Trust (BT)
I trust this brand
0.98
5.42
1.04
0.96
This is an honest brand
0.97
5.46
1.00
0.93
This b
rand is safe
0.7
3
5.87
0.40
0.53
I rely on this brand
0.90
5.47
0.93
0.80
Customer Sat
isfaction (CS)
I am satisfied with my decision to visit this brand
0.92
5.09
1.18
0.84
My choice to choose this brand was a wise one
0.94
4.95
1.21
0.88
I feel that my experience with this brand has been enjoyable
0.82
4.89
1.19
0.67
I think I did the right thing to visit t
his brand
0.95
4.99
1.12
0.89
Customer Commitment (CC)
I feel committed to this brand
0.
92
4.63
1.26
0.84
I am proud to belong to this brand
0.68
4.72
1.09
0.45
I am a loyal customer of this brand
0.91
4.
54
1.24
0.83
I
hope
for
the
long
-
term success of this brand
0.95
4.54
1.24
0.90
Brand Loyalty (BL)
I would recommend this brand to someone who seeks my
advice
0.89
5.32 1.04 0.78
I would encourage friends and relatives to do business with
this brand
0.83
5.21 1.12 0.85
I would say positive things about this brand to other people
0.94
5.12
1
.16
0.88
I would do more business with this brand in the next few
years
0.80
4.57 1.25 0.63
I am a loyal customer of this brand
0.86
4.51
1.32
0.73
I am willing to maintain my relationship with this brand
0.88
4.60
1.36
0.77
Note: SL = standard loadings, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, SMC = squared multiple
correlation
Measurement Model
The measurement model involved a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). This was conducted
through Structural Equation Modelling using Amos in order to assess the uni-dimensionality,
validity and reliability of the constructs. CFA removed the items that did not fit the
measurement model due to low factor loading. The researcher conducted a pooled CFA to
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assess the measures of the latent constructs. The overall goodness-of-fit indices of CFA
indicated that all the fits of the measurement model are satisfactory (CFI, TLI, GFI, and NFI
>0.90; RMSEA <0.08 (Bentler & Bonett, 1980). The overall the measurement model of the
CFA is achieved excellent fit χ2 = 572.540, df = 197, χ2/df = 2.906, p <.000, CFI = 0.96; TLI
= 0.95, NFI = 0.94, GFI = 0.88, RMSEA = 0.074, SRMR = 0.47).
Reliability and Validity of Scales
In addition, CFA assessed the reliability as well as validity of all scales. Convergent validity
was confirmed by analysing the conditions suggested by (Fornell & Larcker, 1981). At first,
all CFA factor loadings were statistically significant at p <0.001. Furthermore, all the
indicators for all the measurement constructs were significant (critical values were higher than
1.96) and the AVE were higher than 0.5, suggesting convergent validity of the scale or uni-
dimensionality of the constructs (Fornell & Larcker, 1981). Finally, the reliabilities for each
construct were above the value of 0.70, fulfilling the general condition of reliability for the
research instruments, as shown in Table 3.
Table 3 Discriminant validity, reliability and correlation values
Construct
α CR AVE BL CBI CS CC BT
BL 0.955 0.954 0.777 0.882
CBI 0.91 0.917 0.733 0.803 0.856
CS 0.948 0.95 0.826 0.816 0.786 0.909
CC 0.921 0.925 0.757 0.82 0.833 0.853 0.87
BT 0.922 0.944 0.809 0.791 0.641 0.718 0.713 0.889
Note: α = Cronbach’s alpha, AVE = average variance extracted, CR = construct reliability,
BL = brand loyalty, CBI = customer-brand identification, BT = brand trust, CS = customer
satisfaction, CM = customer commitment. Off diagonal factors are the correlations among the
study constructs.
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To confirm the discriminant validity the researchers evaluated the correlations of the constructs
with the square root of the average variance extracted for each of the constructs (Fornell &
Larcker, 1981). Table 3 indicates that the AVE is higher than its squared correlations of any
pair of two constructs. This finding supports the discriminant validity of the constructs.
Moreover, the results of the specific chi-square difference test for CBI and commitment χ2 =
102.347, df = 19, χ2/df = 5.387, p <.000 or (Δχ2 = 5.387, p = .000) showed that these two
closely related constructs differed significantly. Hence there was discriminant validity between
identification and commitment as the two redundancy constructs were different.
The Structural Equation Modelling (SEM)
The overall structural model was tested by means of AMOS 20.0 with maximum likelihood
estimation. The overall model fitness indices χ2 = 572.540, df = 197, χ2/df = 2.906, CFI = .96,
TLI = .95, NFI = .94, GFI = 0.88, RMSEA = .074, and SRMR = 0.48 reported an optimal
model fit.
All the structural path coefficients were found to be positive and significant. The current study
reported significant influences particularly in H2, between CBI and satisfaction, where β =
0.79, R
2
= 0.62, p <0.05. There were also significant relationships between CBI and customer
commitment (H1) where β = 0.40, R
2
= 0.81, p <0.05; between CBI and brand loyalty (H4),
where β = 0.29, R
2
= 0.80, p <0.05; and between CBI and brand trust (H3), where β = 0.20, R
2
= 0.53, p <0.05.
Satisfaction had a significant positive influence on commitment (H5), where β = 0.44, R
2
=
0.81, p <0.05, whilst brand trust had a very significant effect on customer commitment (H6),
where β = 0.14, R
2
= 0.81, p <0.01). Satisfaction also had a significant and an effect on brand
trust (H7), where β = 0.29, R
2
= 0.53, p <0.05). Moreover, the findings suggest that
Electronic copy available at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3339153
18
commitment was an antecedent of brand loyalty (H8), where β = 0.16, R
2
= 0.80, p <0.05); and
satisfaction had a small, significant effect on brand loyalty (H9), where β = 0.21, R
2
= 0.80, p
<.05. Notwithstanding, this study has shown that brand trust is also a highly significant driver
of brand loyalty (H10), where β = 0.35, R
2
= 0.80, p <0.005. The brand trust (β = 0.35) had a
higher effect on brand loyalty than CBI (β = 0.29), satisfaction (β = 0.21) and commitment (β
= 0.16). Therefore, the consumers’ trust in the brand determined their loyalty. The results from
the structural equation modelling are reported in Table 4.
Table 4 Structural equation model results
H Structural Relationships R
2
β T
H1
customer-brand identification customer commitment
0.81
0.4 7.38 Sig
H2
customer-brand identification customer satisfaction 0.62
0.79
16.53
Sig
H3
customer-brand identification brand trust 0.5 0.2 2.83 Sig
H4
customer-brand identification brand loyalty 0.8 0.29
4.64 Sig
H5
customer satisfaction customer commitment 0.81
0.44
7.71 Sig
H6
brand trust customer commitment 0.84
0.14
3.43 Sig
H7
customer satisfaction brand trust 0.53
0.29
8.03 Sig
H8
customer commitment brand loyalty 0.81
0.16
2.75 Sig
H9
customer satisfaction brand loyalty 0.8 0.21
3.21 Sig
H10
brand trust brand loyalty 0.83
0.35
7.88 Sig
The overall model fitness indices: χ2 = 572.540
df = 197, χ2/df = 2.906, CFI = .96, TLI = .95, NFI = .94, GFI = 0.88, RMSEA = .074, SRMR = 0.48
___________________________________________________________________________
Taking into reflection the indirect effects in the model, CBI had the strongest indirect effect on
hotel brand loyalty (β = 0.51) followed by the customer satisfaction (β = 0.27). Brand trust had
a minimal indirect effect on brand loyalty (β = 0.023). Furthermore, commitment, brand trust
and satisfaction significantly mediated the relationship between CBI and hotel brand loyalty.
The indirect, direct, and total effects are reported in Table 5.
Electronic copy available at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3339153
19
Table 5 Standardized effects on endogenous constructs: direct, indirect and total effects
__________________________________________________________________________
Direct and
Indirect Effects CBI CS BT CM BL
___________________________________________________________________________
CS
1. Direct path effect 0.786 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
2. Indirect path effect 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
3. Total effect 0. 786 0.000 0.000 0 .000 0.000
BT
1. Direct path effect 0.200 0.561 0.000 0.000 0.000
2. Indirect path effect 0.441 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
3. Total effect 0.641 0.561 0.000 0.000 0.000
CM
1. Direct path effect 0.396 0.437 0.145 0.000 0.000
2. Indirect path effect 0.437 0 .081 0.000 0 .000 0.000
3. Total effect 0.833 0.519 0.145 0 .000 0.000
BL
1. Direct path effect 0.287 0.207 0.346 0.159 0.000
2. Indirect path effect 0.516 0.276 0.023 0.000 0 .000
3. Total effect 0.803 0.483 0.369 0.159 0.000
_________________________________________________________________________
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
A social identity lens was used to advance our understanding of consumer-brand identity in the
hospitality context. This study has built on the extant knowledge relating to the social identity
theory as well as on relationship marketing literature (Ahearne et al., 2005; Fujita et al., 2018;
Lam et al., 2013; Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014; So et al., 2013), and empirically
tested the relationships between consumer-brand identity and consumer commitment, trust and
Electronic copy available at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3339153
20
satisfaction. At the same time, it explained these constructs’ direct and its indirect influences
on hotel brand loyalty. In a nutshell, the results indicated that satisfaction, commitment and
trust are antecedents of CBI, that would in turn lead to brand loyalty. This paper puts forward
important implications to academia and practitioners on brand identification and brand loyalty
literature. To the best of our knowledge, there were no other studies that have empirically
investigated this integrated research model within the hospitality context. Moreover, this
contribution identified the key antecedents or drivers of the consumers’ loyalty towards hotels.
We recognize that all studies may have their inherent limitations. Firstly, we are aware that this
empirical research has relied on cross-sectional data. Therefore, in future, a longitudinal study
could possibly be used to examine the relationship of these constructs over a longer time span.
Secondly, the data for this research was gathered from the hospitality industry context. Future
research could replicate the findings from this study across different sectors, or in other
countries. Further research could employ different constructs from the marketing sciences. In
conclusion, we believe that there is scope for future research to identify other drivers and
consequences of hospitality brand identification and brand loyalty. Other research can explore
the emerging themes of customer-brand engagement, including; co-creation and service
innovation, among other topics.
Acknowledgements
The authors thank the hotel managers who have allowed us to use their premises to gather the
data among their guests. We are also grateful to the reviewers of the AMS World Marketing
Congress 2019, who have provided us with insightful remarks and suggestions.
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