Reaching Higher: Sacrifices and Brand Loyalty, Thesis Paper Example
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Conceptualizing Relationship Marketing
The concept of relationship marketing establishes the concept of collaborative engagement between consumers and brands. The relationship grows broader and deepens beyond the standard seller-buyer relationships. However, the relationship does not culminate into a joint venture partnership where partners are rewarded with significant market value (Atul & Mona, 2015). The purpose and manifestation of relationship marketing lie in establishing, developing, and perpetuating a relational exchange. It is a superscript of the buyer-seller process model where the psychological, social, and economic values are mutual and perpetual for the seller and buyer (Atul & Mona, 2015). Historical antecedents of relationship marketing extend to the seller-buyer models in the pre-industrial era, where agricultural producers established lasting bonds with their customers. The producer-consumer bonds faded when intermediaries arose to link agricultural producers and consumers and diminished interactions between buyers and sellers.
The emergence of intermediaries in the 20th and 21st centuries explains the fading consumer loyalty to firms’ brands. Less frequent interactions between firms and their consumers cause transaction-oriented marketing. Intermediaries assume the marketing functions of producers, whose implication is the economic focus instead of relational marketing (Dwivedi, 2015). Despite the intermediaries’ impact on the seller-buyer relationships, the evolution of relationship marketing and rapid development (the advent of ICT and sophisticated digital technologies). These developments led to de-intermediation and facilitated the direct interaction between producers and end-users. Today, marketing relationships are conventional practices using advanced technologies such as analytics and databases, which enable bypassing of intermediaries to reach end-users (Dwivedi, 2015). On the other hand, consumers increase their willingness to bypass intermediaries, engage in personal merchandising, and directly order commodities from manufacturers. The 21st-century market environment exhibits increased consumer interest in direct relationships with producers and marketers, contributing to the rise of online investment and online banking and immediate purchasing of insurance and automobile products.
Relationship marketing manifests through the service economy, where producers and marketers act as service providers. As service providers, producers and marketers engage end users desiring to develop, maintain and enhance the relationship. Consequently, a deeper emotional bond develops between sellers and buyers (Hasmini, 2016). Digital technology provided an opportunity to build an emotional bond between buyers and sellers through the systems selling approach. The system selling approach involves the integration of customers in the product development stages from their production through the supply chain until the product reaches the end user. The system’s selling approach capitalizes on the availability of digital technologies whose outcome is an intimate buyer-seller relationship (Hasmini, 2016). At this point, customers establish a buying relationship with the marketer or producer. In contrast, producers and marketers gather feedback, assess customers’ needs, and attach to the organization’s resources to satisfy the customer. A consumer-brand relationship theory (CBR) elaborates on brands and consumer engagement to formulate an interdepend relationship similar to interpersonal relationships in human beings.
The Theory of Consumer-brand Relationship (CBT)
The growth of relationship marketing results in a consumer-brand relationship (CBR) where consumers increase their attachment and intimacy to the marketer or producer to establish a buying relationship. Conversely, marketers and producers continue to assess and gather customer needs through feedback and invest in their systems for customer benefit (Xie et al., 2017). The outcome is a CBR defined as a psychological bond between consumers and brands. Psychological bond is reminiscent of human relationships that begin at a social interaction point before developing and perpetuating over time. When companies assess customers’ needs through feedback collection and research and subsequent investment in their systems to suit the requirements, they create a brand that offers an interface with customers in a social interaction similar to human relationships (Xie et al., 2017). Consequently, consumers interact with the brand as humans relate to one another to establish an interpersonal relationship (Xie et al., 2017). This practice is equivalent to humanizing the brand by elevating its interface and image to attract and develop customer relationships regardless of lacking human characteristics of feeling, thinking, smelling, and acting. The firm’s actions gather feedback, assess consumer needs before updating delivering customer needs, and undertake marketing actions that give brands human appeal.
The focal point of the brand-consumer relationship is the ability to humanize brands through actions of organization management and employees to market and deploy tactics to create brand awareness. The activities and tactics of the company represent the behavior and attitudes that employees and the organization convey to the potential customer to portray the brand (Hasmini, 2016). This behavior and attitude give the brand a human feel, culminating in a brand personality with traits used to attract potential customers and develop a relationship that lasts as a result of mutual dependence. This concept shows the relationship between various brands ranging from grocery stores to telecommunication service companies, with employees using tactics and actions to portray their behavior and attitudes to the customer (Gómez-Suárez et al., 2017). Organization brands deploy marketing actions and tactics such as return policy, product and service discounts, and customer differentiation and segmentation, increasing appeal and attraction of customers. These actions and tactics create warm, approachable, and caring brands for the customers, increasing the likelihood of social interaction, developing an interdependent relationship, and sustaining the relationship through continued mutual interdependence.
A brand is an interface or image representing and communicating a firm’s products and services. It manifests through the uniqueness and differentiation of services and products in the market from competitors. These brands manifest through the actions of companies and their employees in producing and marketing products and services to potential customers (Atul & Mona, 2015). Employees in the company project their behavior and attitudes through production and marketing actions and tactics, which give the brand a personality that facilitates formulating and sustaining interactions and relationships with customers. Individuals and organizations own the brands and dictate the actions and tactics that produce personality traits (Khamitov et al., 2019). However, brands interact with potential customers and establish interdependent relationships through a totality of experiences, influencing consumers’ minds and consciences (Gómez-Suárez et al., 2017). This illustration underlines the significance of brand owners in enhancing brand image and reputation through actions at the production and marketing stages that promote positive consumer perceptions. Consumers are humans who can perceive and interact with brands representing organizations and their honors.
Coincidence of Brand Love and Patriotism for a Country
Brand love manifest when consumers show extreme willingness to stick and increase brand awareness through behavior and attitudes. This approach has close relationship with patriotism where citizens show support and sacrifice regardless of the country’s tumultuous and enjoyable moments. Patriotism to a particular country entails sticking with the national values and identity to preserve the heritage (Spielmann et al, 2020). Citizens show respect to their countries by abiding to the established value system. Despite emergence of globalization and technological advancements, citizen continue showing allegiance to their countries. This allegiance exists regardless of expansionism, internationalism and diversification of values, race and ethnicity to due to people’s mobility (Spielmann et al, 2020). Patriotism might involve interactions in ways that promote national identity to specific extent. Patriots display ranging levels of attachment to a country’s value system manifested when treating out-groups. The love for a country is voluntary, non-competitive and driven by national identities.
Brand love on the other involves demonstrating emotional attachment to a love regardless of having alternatives. This love emerges from an initial interaction where each party benefit from each other. This approach is different from patriotism where citizens do not expect compensation from the country their devotion and dedication (Spielmann et al, 2020). Additionally, brand love starts when the brand satisfies the consumer expectation on the first instance of interaction which influences the development of relationships. This brand consumer relationship lasts longer based on the brands ability to continue satisfying the consumer (Spielmann et al, 2020). This habit makes consumers stick with the brand regardless of entrance of attracting alternatives on the market. Loyalty to countries is similar to family and region loyalty where people devote through material and emotional investment without expecting something in return. Family and region love differs from brand love in that the former requires no motivation or compensation but loves as a sacrifice.
Humanizing of Brands
The human feel given to brands makes them appear ambiguous and manifest through attributes and experiential tangible and intangible characteristics that aspire to satisfy consumer expectations. On the surface, brands have names, copyright images, and symbolic features such as logos, creating awareness among potential consumers. After creating awareness among potential consumers through digital platforms and conventional channels, brands align themselves strategically to engage customers through their equity, personalities, and loyalty. Brands that possess positive personalities, equity, and loyalty are attractive to consumers and create consumer loyalty through repeat customer behaviour (Avis et al., 2012). Through the company and team members’ actions, consumers acquire brand recognition and knowledge from the brand’s image and attribute created for the market. Subsequently, consumers conceptualize and strike interest before interacting with brands according to the brand characteristics (Hasmini, 2016). Relationships are a match between brands that process human feel and consumers when brands penetrate the market and create awareness through their image. Perceived image and awareness are crucial functionalities that make brand memory into consumers enabling recognition and recall.
The concept of brand involves brand image having two principal constructs. The first construct is a personality trait manifesting through emotional appeal created by the brand to trigger social interaction and establish an interdependent relationship. This construct means consumers personify the brand by creating an intimate attachment to the brand’s services and products. Secondly, self-concept (consumer image) is a construct where brands endeavour to achieve interpersonal attraction with consumers. The consumer image construct is crucial for brands and brand developers who strategize and aspire to have brands with personalities resembling targeted customer profiles. This elaboration means brands must achieve self-image congruence with the targeted consumer profiles to enhance and expedite intimacy during the interaction and experiences between customers and brands.
Congruence of self-image and self-concept is crucial in the brand concept where brands possess characteristics that endear to the customer to trigger sensory feelings of pleasure in the consumer. Moreover, when the brand and customers’ personalities and attitudes are congruent, brands elicit cognitive and effective stimulation (Rather & Camilleri, 2019). Consequently, brands establish interdependent relationships with customers and sustain the relationship through communication and reinforcement of social identities. The brand and consumers become intertwined with similar social identities and psychological characteristics of the cognitive and behavioral realm. This concept explains why brands internalize the subcultures of consumers in particular geographical regions to generate a livid experience (Rather & Camilleri, 2019). Consequently, consumers identify with the brand and recognize the social identities binding the consumers’ subculture and the brand, similar to human relationships involving people sharing identities and backgrounds.
Humanistic Brand-consumer Relationships
Consumers demonstrate human-like relationships with brands treating them like partners. This relationship makes consumers interact with brands using humanistic norms governing human-like relationships. Despite mimicking human relationships when interacting with brands consumers show slight differences in their interaction with brands (Avis et al., 2012). Some human relationship marriages and romantic relationships exhibit extreme and dyadic relationships (Sung & Choi, 2010). Conversely consumers develop relationships with multiple brands without having the dyadic elements but sharing some crucial qualities that are similar to human relationships.
It follows that consumers and brands operate as partners with the similar qualities as partner relationships in human beings (Sung & Choi, 2010). The investment model of human relationships is an epitome of brand consumer relationship. Besides the investment model, brand consumer relationship borrows its concept from the interdependence theory which argues that interdependence influences behaviour and motivation within parties in a mutual relationship (Avis et al., 2012). According to the investment model, commitment in a relationship is a product of interdependence (Sung & Choi, 2010). As a result, commitment is pivotal in the brand consumer relationship that relies on social exchange where brands and consumers depend on one another and develops feelings of attachment and orientation to the partner.
Interdependence and commitment are qualities similar to those in human relationships which predict voluntary continuance. Relationships last longer when parties contribute and receive maintenance from one another and continuously dislodge tempting alternatives (Sung & Choi, 2010). Moreover, parties in a relationship are willing to sacrifice for their partners and demonstrate readiness to strike desired behaviour and options to sustain the relationship. Moreover, the brand consumer relationship demonstrates similar qualities of human-like relationships where partners accommodate each other rather than retaliating and exploring alternatives whenever partners exhibit weaknesses (Sung & Choi, 2010). According to the investment model three crucial factors dictate the level of commitment among partners. These three factors include the availability and quality of alternatives, the level of satisfaction and magnitude of investment by partners (Avis et al., 2012). Satisfaction is a principal requirement for brand consumer relationships particularly in the service industry.
The product performance does not provide adequate prediction of the end consumer relationship. Consumers might demonstrate propensity over market alternatives regardless of whether they find the product satisfying and reliable. They are unwilling to develop brand consumer relationships with brands having satisfactory and reliable products (Sung & Choi, 2010). However, satisfaction is a crucial necessity connecting brand consumer relationships and determining the relationship longevity. Nevertheless, commitment alone does not predict the longevity of the brand consumer relationship (Avis et al., 2012). Thus, quality of alternatives and amount of investment in the brand. Consumers show investment when devoting their resources to show commitment and sustainability of the brand consumer relationship (Sung & Choi, 2010). However, brands must ensure continued attractiveness of services and products to the consumer although scanty research exists to show the impact investment on brand consumer relationship.
Countering Brand Humanizing Concept
The concept of brand humanizing, where brands show human-like features during interaction with consumers, is incomprehensible, particularly in the modernist consumer environment. The branding paradigm has undergone a significant shift, and consumers prefer engaging brands rather than adopting a permanent and intimate relationship (de Castro, 2018). Negative brand-consumer relationships emerged when consumers developed high-propensity behavior, where switching among brands became the hallmark of shopping behavior. Consumers strike a partnership with brands that last for a particular time before shifting to market alternatives depending on their offers and consumers’ tendency to have different tastes (Gatzioufa & Saprikis, 2022). According to the psychology literature, consumers describe events and experiences as exemplary satisfactory, or wasteful. Moreover, the modern-day consumer is emotional in decision-making, which implies rating events and experiences as satisfactory or unsatisfactory.
The psychology of consumers asserts that consumers have extreme emotions for disappointing experiences and actions which last longer. Conversely, consumers have short memories and underwhelming emotional reactions when experiences and events are satisfactory. Differences in the consumers’ reactions to satisfactory and disappointing experiences emanate from the brain responses (Gatzioufa & Saprikis, 2022). Brain responses have resulted in concepts of brand avoidance and brand aversion. Brand avoidance and brand aversion involve consumers experiencing anti-brand activism among other consumers and propagating anti-consumption for specific brand products and services. Moreover, consumer literature has developed cases of Brand divorce where consumers switch allegiance following a disappointing experience with a particular brand. The counter view of the brand-consumer relationship being human-like is the emergence of brand hate, where consumers exhibit bitterness and anger over disappointing brands at a particular point in their interaction.
The consumer culture entails developing that over services and products offered by brands. Consumer sovereignty in a market is characterized by high switching costs, consumer inertia, and underlying barriers and constraints in the market. Moreover, consumer markets exhibit cases of brand monopoly, purchasing ignorance among consumers, underlying social pressure directed towards specific brands, and consumer risk aversion habits (Gatzioufa & Saprikis, 2022). Consequently, consumers experience challenges such as abusing power, monopolistic brands and neglecting consumerism. These practices lead to consumer frustration and increase freaking behavior among consumers, particularly when attractive alternatives appear on the market. Brands communicate with consumers using different communication channels (Gatzioufa & Saprikis, 2022). Consumers passively receive brand communication differently, leading to differences in attachment to specific brands. Happy consumers associate with brands depending on the positivity of the messages, while unhappy consumers seek alternative brands on the market.
Consumers are likely to vent their frustration over particular brands on social media platforms. These frustrations manifest through complaints, negative reviews, and sharing negative experiences with particular brands regardless of their strength of brand-consumer relationships (de Castro, 2018). The expanded space for consumers to vent their frustration against disappointing experiences through negative reviews and social media complaints gives consumers power over brands. It implies that consumers utilize possible opportunities, particularly after receiving disappointing services or products, to fight brands citing justices (de Castro, 2018). Consequently, the emergence of online tools has increased complaints’ visibility and eliminated the concept of the brand-consumer relationship and the human-like relationship between consumers and brands.
The anti-brand communities emerged in the early 21st century exhibiting the behavior of brand hate, brand awareness, and brand aversion. It involves consumers developing negative perspectives and views about brands. Consumers share common views about particular brands on the market, leading to their rejection (de Castro, 2018). This behavior involves consumers receiving substandard services and products due to ignorance or brand monopoly. These consumers become anti-brand activists who share negative reviews and use social media to share disappointing encounters with brands. A paradigm shift in consumer consumption has seen consumers perceive brands as self-interested organizations disinterested in consumers’ requirements.
Anti-brand actions and activism occurs offline and online involving rejection and opposition for particular brands, which causes a negative reputation. Moreover, this activist behavior negatively impacts brand equity since the rejection calls are lasting and spread widely (de Castro, 2018). The Anti- brand crusaders are community members with deep connections and a sense of identity and belonging to society. The concept of anti-brand communities in the current consumer market neutralizes the possibility of a human-like relationship between brands and consumers.
Brand-Consumer Relationships for Different Brands
Consumers show deep emotional connection with brands to highlight brands’ strength in consumers’ well-being. The survival of brands is dependent on brands capability to obtain brand loyalty which starts from brand consumer relationship. The outcome of brand consumer relationship and consumer loyalty is increased acquisition rates and high repurchase volumes. Brand consumer relationships have several dimensions but are subject to discussion (Avis et al., 2012). The brand consumer dimensions depend on service contexts spanning industries such as energy, mobile internet, grocery, financial services and telecommunication industry. Several factors determine brand perception and brands appeal to consumers (Avis et al., 2012). Consumers have varying attitudes on brands in different industries while brands utilize different advertising strategies. The nature of connection between brands and consumers depends on how brands interact with consumers and vice versa. Quality of alternatives and investment levels are additional factors that determine how consumers interact with brands from different industries.
Brand consumer relationships for brands in different industries can be bi-directional or unidirectional. Bi-directional relationships occur when brands and consumers engage in reciprocity relationships with each party having equal contribution (Avis et al., 2012). Product industries show unidirectional brand consumer relationships where consumers are loyal by sticking to a particular brand. In several cases, brands such as sportswear and electronics have limited consumer manufacturer interaction (Odin et al., 2001). This limited interaction implies that consumers interact with marketers and retailers. When consumers show loyalty to the brand by repurchasing its products, the manufacturer is unaware. Moreover, consumers are unaware of manufacturers or location of manufacturing plants that exhibit loyalty to the products. This loyalty is present in products such as sportswear and electronic products such as refrigerators (Odin et al., 2001). The majority of unidirectional relationships involve a single brand interacting with several consumers at a particular time. This interaction is evident in sportswear where brands such as Nike interact with consumers worldwide through advertising and social media conversations.
Bi-directional relationships are common in the service industry where brands and consumers engage in constant interaction. Service Industries involves consumers shopping from brands through online or face-to-face interaction. Bi-directional relationship involves independence and responsibility between consumers and brands (Odin et al., 2001). Typical service Industries such as catering music streaming and subscription, telecommunication and mobile company services, finance services and energy supply engage in bi-directional relationships with their consumers (Odin et al., 2001). Reciprocity is evident in these relationships where consumers explore services through online connections that are instantaneous. Consumers utilize services from these brands and provide real-time feedback to enable the brands to gauge their level of satisfaction (Odin et al., 2001). Similarly, service Industries provide real time services to their consumers and adjust according to the consumer feedback to increase levels of satisfaction. Product Industries have high levels of one-to-many interactions between brands and their consumers while service Industries exhibit one-to-one interactions undertaken through the shopping platform.
The service industry exhibits a bi-directional relationship that underlines brand-consumer relationship strength. In the financial sector, consumers settle on one or two banks and are reluctant to switch allegiance regardless of other exciting alternatives. However, brand loyalty in the financial service sector varies depending on the age of customers. Younger customers prefer diversifying their financial services with different financial providers, while older customers show reluctance to switch among providers. Consumers loyalty for service brands (energy, telecommunication and streaming services) is long-term and stronger than loyalty in product-based companies such as sportswear and grocery. Consumers display high switching behavior in sportswear and grocery brands owing to the unidirectional relation manifested through low reciprocity levels.
Consumer’s Dimension in Humanizing Brands
Contemporary consumers aspire to develop buying relationships with sellers instead of purchasing products in a single encounter. The willingness of consumers to create a buying experience represents the willingness to humanize brands with similar identities and personalities (Gómez-Suárez et al., 2017). Humanization of the brand-consumer relationship imitates the interdependent relationships developed and sustained among people in intimate associations such as marriage. Consumers prefer brands over others since they deploy principles governing interpersonal relationships that depend on people’s personalities, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior (Gómez-Suárez et al., 2017). As a result, consumers’ responsiveness to particular brands in the market depends on the brand’s potential to project endearing social and cultural identities and personality traits that satisfy consumers’ psychological well-being. The outcome is a psychological relationship between consumers and preferred brands beyond practical and functional benefits.
The brand personality model achieves the anthropomorphism of brands by conferring behaviour traits and attitudes, which renders brands as humans. This approach makes brands appear humans by exhibiting abilities and intentions to motivate, attract and satisfy customers through experiences. Conversely, consumers increase the humanization of brands by attaching intimacy and integrating their significance and meaning into their minds when engaging in the first and subsequent shopping experiences (Todd, 2014). Moreover, consumers establish brand relationships by perceiving brands as sources of social and cultural values. Digital platforms and technological advances such as databases and analytics have increased the connection between brands and consumers. It has led to consumers accepting brands as crucial components in the seller-buyer relationship (Todd, 2014). Consequently, brand relationships begin when consumers attach personal identities to specific brands. These identities sustain the linkage between consumers and brands through mutual interdependence and brands fulfilling the psychological needs of consumers.
The CBR concept borrows from the psychology of interpersonal relationships involving human beings. In this comparison, human beings perceive objects and intangible elements as they perceive fellow human beings. Consequently, consumers perceive brands as they perceive fellow humans. Research findings have shown that consumers emphasize the emotional and relational value in their engagement with particular brands on the market (Khamitov et al., 2019; Chung & Park, 2017). These findings show that consumers prefer striking an emotional linkage with particular brands based on individual perceptions over practical benefits and functional outcomes of the brand’s services and products. Moreover, these findings imply that consumers formulate an intimate connection with the brands after approving them based on the brand perception and the capability of brands to establish an emotional impact through the buying and selling experience Chung & Park, 2017. Thus, consumers identify and interact with brands out of love while creating enmity with brands’ competitors. The culmination of interdependent relationships between consumers and brands is brand loyalty resembling intimate relationships between two people, such as marriage.
Brand Relationship Drivers
The first driver of brand relationship is consumer-brand identification involving a sense of connection between consumers and brands. According to the social identity theory, consumers perceive brands from the perspective of brand identity in the market. Consumers require a psychological state of perception, which must develop into feelings and values before identifying with the respective brand (Chung & Park, 2017). The brand identification process is voluntary, selective, and active development within the consumer’s mind and conscience requiring outward motivations such as customer satisfaction, uniqueness of experience, and social and cultural identification with the brand. This development will require brands to be distinct and process and during characteristics in the market.
Recent changes in consumer behavior have underlined the significance of brand identification in establishing lasting and practical consumer-brand relationships leading to brand loyalty. It compels brands to go beyond customer benefits in services and products by delivering experiences and feelings that trigger stimuli within consumer minds to identify with the brand. This consumer-brand relationship development has seen brands integrate word of mouth and customer extra-role behaviors besides providing services and products that satisfy consumer needs (Khamitov et al., 2019). Consumers have evolved and become unpredictable to the level where they identify with several brand identifiers besides the brand name and its services and products.
The recent changes in consumer behaviour have explanations in the self-categorization theory. The self-categorization theory avers that present-day consumers prefer belonging to different brand-related groups at a particular time. This approach enables contemporary consumers to forge multiple brand identities within their social construct (Rather & Camilleri, 2019). As a result, consumers will prefer interacting with several brands when brands have a single identity dimension, such as brand name, product, or service. Consumers fail to capture the actual brand perception or image when its identification is a brand name product or service offered to the end-user (Rather & Camilleri, 2019). Thus, brand owners and organization management must attach multiple identifiers to the brand to satisfy the modern consumer. Multiple identifiers enable consumers to generate different perceptions while allowing the brand to create consumer perceptions on multiple fronts (Rather & Camilleri, 2019). Customer satisfaction is the second brand relationship driver and a critical customer loyalty determinant in the customer-brand relationship. It depicts the post-consumption assessment and analysis of a service and product from a particular brand.
The expectancy disconfirmation paradigm argues that brand service or product satisfies the customer if their performance meets customer expectations. Customer satisfaction carries a higher index of predicting customer loyalty (Giovanis & Athanasopoulou, 2018). It relies on the customer’s repeat transactions after the first or single transaction. Customer satisfaction is distinct from customer-brand identification since the former is related to the actual performance of services or products associated with a particular brand (Giovanis & Athanasopoulou, 2018). Moreover, customer satisfaction exerts a backward-oriented role, while customer-brand identification has a forward-oriented focus.
The two are interdependent despite brand identification and brand loyalty being separate constructs. Brand loyalty is possible whenever consumers identify and associate with a brand through its uniqueness and market value. The repeat purchasing behaviour among consumers represents their unique definition of brand identity that reinforces a sense of belonging (Giovanis & Athanasopoulou, 2018). Consumers obtain psychological benefits when using various parameters to identify brands. This psychological benefit diminishes when consumers engage other brands on the market. Some consumers display brand-supportive behaviours within the social circle, which underlines the resulting sense of belonging when consumers identify with a particular brand (Popp & Woratschek, 2017). Supportive behaviour and consumers’ emotional benefit when identifying with a particular brand represent sacrificial loyalty which emerges when consumers assist or appear to be assisting brands in prospering. Consumers express positive behaviour through word-of-mouth about a brand to increase their self-identity in the social setting. Customer loyalty and customer satisfaction are interdependent from the perspectives of learning, risk, and cognitive dissonance theories (Popp & Woratschek, 2017). These theories support high customer satisfaction as a way of increasing word of mouth and facilitating customer loyalty.
Quality Model in CBR
The consequence of CBR is customer loyalty and an increase in word of mouth that manifest when consumers identify and interact with the brand before being satisfied with its services and products. It follows that the level of consumer identification with a brand and satisfaction with its services and products leads to a varying degree of consumer-brand relationship (Elbedweihy et al., 2016). Stability and relationships between brands and consumers vary according to the customer’s brand perception and subsequent satisfaction from the brand. Stability in the relationship improves quality (brand relationship quality, BRQ). BRQ outlines the overall characteristics of the consumer-brand relationship comprising strength, depth, and quality (Elbedweihy et al., 2016). Meaningful and mutually interdependent interaction and the relationship between brands and consumers increases the quality of BRQ. The BRQ model for examining the strength and quality of consumer-brand relationships has six primary factors outlined below:
Interdependence; this factor deals with the intensity, frequency, and degree of the consumer-brand relationship. It involves brands fulfilling customers’ desires by meeting customer expectations using services and products. The brand-related activities should be diverse and extensive to satisfy complex consumer expectations (Elbedweihy et al., 2016). Consumers reciprocate brands’ satisfaction of their expectations through customer loyalty and self-identity with the brand manifested by consumers’ supportive behaviour of the brand.
Intimacy; intimacy represents the level of affection and unique sense of interconnectedness between the brand and its consumers. This factor occurs when brands have adequate structures for creating awareness leading to robust brand relationships with customers (Adhikari & Panda, 2019). Consumers express feelings of approval and believe in the brand to satisfy their expectations. Broad and deep levels of intimacy between consumers and brands culminate in quality and enduring relationships relating to customer loyalty.
Love and passion; love and passion are at the focal point of brand-consumer relationships. This factor determines the strength and breadth of CBRs, affecting the relationship’s longevity (Adhikari & Panda, 2019). Strong feelings of love and passion increase positive emotions and perceptions of a brand making the brand irreplaceable and leading to brand loyalty through repeat transactions.
Brand partner quality; this factor emerges from overall strength and mutual satisfaction between brands and consumers. Research shows that brand partner quality has five primary constructs. The first construct involves brands creating a feeling of respect toward consumers through positive brand orientation (Chang et al., 2018). Secondly, the brand satisfies consumer expectations by being predictable, reliable, and dependable. The third construct entails brands complying with existing regulatory frameworks and codes of ethics. Fourthly, brand promises must be trustworthy (Chang et al., 2018). The fifth construct requires brands to be accountable for their operations and actions. These five constructs are crucial in sustaining a robust, deep, broad consumer-brand relationship.
Commitment; commitment is a factor where consumers and brands willingly invest equivalent amounts of time and emotional energy. High levels of commitment in the brand-consumer relationship increase the stability of the relationship leading to its longevity (Chang et al., 2018). Brand commitment manifests through continued research and aligning service and product features according to consumer feedback. Conversely, consumer commitment manifests through repeat transactions, supportive behaviour, and resisting the temptation to explore alternative brands in the market.
Self-connection; self-connection is a factor driving focus from brands and consumers. Brands satisfy the self-connection element by delivering their identity projections to the consumer base. The brand fulfills aspirations captured in its themes, actions, and expressions to its consumers (Chang et al., 2018). Conversely, customers fulfill their identity projection by maintaining loyalty to the brand regardless of alternatives. Self-connection is a factor that depends on the past, present, or future relationship.
Scale in Brand Relationship Quality (BRQ)
|BRQ Model Factors||Scale metric|
|Interdependence||Brand satisfy consumer expectations
Consumers stay loyal to the brand
High degree, frequency, and intensity of engagement
|Intimacy||The customer learns of the brand’s background and values
The customer learns of brand identity details such as vision and mission
Brand collects consumer feedback and evaluates their satisfaction levels
|Commitment/Love and passion||Brands and consumers have similar identities and personalities
The customer has a sense of affection for the brand
Consumers resist betraying the brand through alternatives
Customers make willing sacrifices for the brand
Brand aligns its services and products to the consumer needs
Brands rewards repeat consumers through loyalty programs
|Partner Quality||Brands offer care for consumer’s needs
Brands rectify shortcomings and misgivings to consumer
Brands consider consumer feedback and listens
Brands are responsive, accountable, and dependable
|Self-connection||Brand shares identities and occupies consumer’s vital part
Outlines the significance of consumers
Brands solve consumers’ issues and needs
Brand aligns with consumer’s problems and goals
Consumer supports the brand through word-of-mouth
Consumer assists in creating brand awareness
Brand loyalty is a concept where consumers enter a successful consumer-brand relationship by developing positive brand feelings and attitudes. Consumers engage with a particular brand repeatedly owing to the emotional bond. A high degree of emotional bond exists between consumers and brands when brands have consumers feel recognized, valued, comfortable and satisfied (Popp & Woratschek, 2017). Consumer loyalty behavior manifests when consumers resist brand-switching behaviour by sticking to preferred brands and being insensitive to price. Thus, consumers sacrifice their time, money, and emotional energy to engage a brand regardless of distance, high prices, and availability of alternatives in the market (Confente & Kucharska, 2021). Sacrifices in brands, such as high prices, arise due to consumers’ perception of brand uniqueness. Brand loyalty occurs when the brand satisfies consumer expectations before establishing an emotional bond with consumers (Veloutsou, 2015). Brands that establish emotional bonds with consumers spend less money on advertising and marketing as they benefit from consumers’ supportive behaviors, such as word of mouth on prospective consumers.
Consumers express loyalty through repetitive transactions with the brand regardless of changes in brand satisfaction caused by increased prices or inadequacy of supply. This behavior implies that consumers who repeatedly engage in a brand due to its affordability and switch brands when prices or availability arise are not loyal (Li et al., 2020). Moreover, emotionally attracted consumers to a specific brand do not display “return after purchase” behavior, as satisfaction is not the primary driver of engagement with the brand’s product and services. Research shows that repeated purchasing behaviour manifests in consumers who lack psychological attachment to the brand. These consumers purchase brand services and products as a convenience of price distance or availability (Kumar & Kumar, 2020). A brand-loyal consumer demonstrates a high commitment to the brand regardless of changes in satisfaction or failure to meet their expectations. Conversely, spurious brand-loyal consumers are tentative in their emotional attachment to a brand as they switch their allegiance when alternatives provide more attractive offers than the current brand.
Trust and satisfaction are primary drivers of achieving brand-loyal consumers for a particular brand. The ability of brands to satisfy consumers by meeting their expectations is a principal factor determining repeat purchasing behavior (Andleeb, 2016). Consumers are less likely to develop a psychological bond with brands that do not satisfy their needs and expectations. On the other hand, the trust attribute connects brand loyalty and satisfaction. Trust is the sensation of dependability and reliability consumers have on the marketer and producer (Bandyopadhyay & Martell, 2007). The ability of brands to engage consumers reliably and dependably over time strengthens and deepens psychological bonds sustaining consumer loyalty (Appiah et al., 2016). Moreover, brands must provide positive experiences by selling services and products to consumers to create brand-loyal consumers.
Brands satisfy their trust and satisfaction attributes to the consumers by having a brand identity manifested through courting a specific market reputation and having uniqueness in economic value. Besides offering benefits to consumers through their products and services, brands achieve brand-loyal consumers by satisfying the symbolic needs of consumers in the long run (Khan et al., 2015). Consequently, consumers express a sense of satisfaction through loyalty, such as repeated purchases and supportive behaviour toward the brand (Sözer & Civelek, 2018). However, satisfaction and repeated behaviour do not demonstrate consumer loyalty, as spurious loyal consumers exhibit similar behaviour (Bandyopadhyay & Martell, 2007). Brand loyalty manifests when consumers are insensitive to attractive alternatives, the cost of brand switching, service, product availability, and price variations.
Attitudinal and Behavioral Brand Loyalty
Consumers display their loyalties through behaviour and attitudes during their consumer-brand relationships. The two categories elaborate on consumer loyalty based on the extent of consumer brand bonding. Behavior forms a basis of defining loyalty but recent research has indicated a two-dimensional approach to loyalty by incorporating the attitudinal component. Attitudinal loyalty is an evaluative psychological development among consumers.
Behavioral loyalty defines the actions exhibited by consumers towards a brand’s services and products in different situations. Activities among consumers that demonstrate behaviour loyalty include repeat purchases, sequence of purchasing, and recommending the purchase of services and products from a specific brand (Sadeghi et al., 2014). Study findings have established behavioral aspects linked to consumers’ intentions toward a brand. Consumers develop behavioral characteristics such as frequency and purchasing volume to demonstrate brand loyalty (Bandyopadhyay & Martell, 2007). Behavioral loyal consumers exist in three subcategories:
- Functional loyal consumers
- Inertia loyal consumers
- Forced loyal consumers
Research in behavioral consumer loyalty found that brands require practical triggers to induce actions that fulfill behavioral consumer loyalty. The absence of behavioural consumer loyalty triggers prevents brands from achieving desired consumer loyalty, rendering consumers’ passive (Khan et al., 2015). A high inertia behaviour among consumers’ manifests when consumers resist brand-switching options based on availability or price variations. Researchers have explored alternatives to behavioral loyalty owing to its inadequacy in addressing consumers’ emotional attachment to brands.
Research on the behavioral dimension of consumer loyalty indicates that consumers remain loyal to brands through repetitive engagement. The repetitive engagement triggers are behavioral dimensions such as marketing the brand to encourage networks and families to explore the band (Khan et al., 2015). Consequently, WOM referrals, repetitive transactions with the brand, and the pertaining volume of products and multiple services from the brand represent consumers’ behavioral dimension of loyalty (Bandyopadhyay & Martell, 2007). It implies that the behavioral dimension of consumer quality focuses on inconsequential actions that portray patterns or habits in consumer brand association.
The behavioral dimension of consumer loyalty evaluates loyalty actions related to purchasing frequency, avoidance of returns, the longevity of interrelationships, and minimal complaints. Other focus areas under the behavioral consumer loyalty dimension are repeated purchasing services and products, retaining first-time customers, and purchasing services and products in huge volumes (Bandyopadhyay & Martell, 2007). Brands satisfy a behavioral dimension of loyalty by providing consumers with reliable and quality services and products (Khan et al., 2015). Consumer struggles to find alternatives when brands are reliable and dependable in services and products that fulfill quality and availability facets. It means that consumer loyalty behaviour begins when consumers discover that it provides excellent results and becomes significant to consumers’ needs.
Attitudinal Brand Loyalty
This brand loyalty dimension emphasizes the cognitive and emotional facets of the connection between brands and consumers. The inclusion of emotional and cognitive elements of human psychology captures the level of commitment from brands and consumers to trigger and sustain the interrelationships (Sadeghi et al., 2014). Brands show high-level commitment to consumers by aligning their services and products with consumer needs and expectations. Conversely, consumers show an attitude of commitment through consistent repurchasing of services and products regardless of alternatives in the market (Sadeghi et al., 2014). Moreover, consumers withstand market pressure from the brand’s competitors using marketing efforts and situational influences to pull and attract consumers.
Attitudinal brand loyalty is the commitment where consumers withstand excessive market pressure from brand alternatives to sustain the connection and engage their preferred brand. Attitudinal brand loyalty manifests when consumers demonstrate an appetite and desire for a long-term commitment (Sadeghi et al., 2014). Consumers become emotionally connected to the brand, culminating in a long-lasting broad and deep intimacy. Attitudinal brand loyalty differentiates between brands brand-loyal consumers and spurious consumers. Spurious consumers show behavioral loyalty as a convenience and forced loyalty but ditch the brand whenever an exciting alternative enters the fray. Attitudinal loyalty shows how brand-loyal consumers remain truthful and demonstrate fidelity to the brand without swaying from attractive options in the market. While behavioural loyalty manifests through consumer interaction, such as repetitive intention to purchase, attitudinal brand loyalty manifests when brand-loyal consumers resist counter-persuasion. The resistance in loyal brand consumers is resolute and firm to the tune of projecting expert opinion and exhibiting a willingness to stick to the brand regardless of the brand’s premium pricing of services and products. Moreover, attitudinal brand loyalty manifests and consumers who show willingness and readiness to support the brand using word of mouth and recommending the brand to family and friends.
Attitudinal brand loyalty emphasizes consumers’ attitudes and psychological disposition toward a specific brand. This loyalty dimension appears as a process where consumers first strike loyalty using their cognitive abilities (Sadeghi et al., 2014). As a sequential process, attitudinal loyalty moves from the cognitive stage to a consumer’s affective and co-native aspects. This sequential development of loyalty is preferable to behavioral loyalty since attitudinal brand loyalty establishes a lasting connection with the desire to continue with the band. Consumers express a sense of belonging and show high-level commitment to the brand when they possess attitudinal brand loyalty (Khan et al., 2015). Attitudinal loyalty among consumers’ manifests through actions leading intention to repurchase and recommend brands’ services and products to others. Furthermore, in attitudinal brand loyalty, people are enthusiastic to maintain a valued connection with the brand, as manifested by positive attitudes and a sense of self-identity. Consequently, consumers used word of mouth and other supportive behaviours to perpetuate the brand’s positive image within the social circle.
Attitudinal brand loyalty is superior and necessary if brands have to build robust and long-lasting relationships with consumers. When consumers have attitudinal brand loyalty, they are unaffected by negative and derogatory information about the brand. These consumers have different attitudes from disloyal consumers and are willing to recommend the brand regardless of existing derogatory remarks in the social circle about the brand. Additionally, consumers with attitudinal brand loyalty have positive and strong beliefs and arguments about the brand in the social circle.
Trends in Attitudinal and Behavioral Brand Loyalties
Attitudinal and behavioural brand loyalties are on the decline among contemporary consumers. The trends in attitudinal and behavioural brand loyalties emanate from broadening the exchange concept in the marketplace. Today digital technologies such as databases, data analytics, and digital media platforms have transformed the exchange concept and increased interaction and connection between producers and consumers (García-Salirrosas et ). The outcome of the transformed exchange concept is increased competition among brands to satisfy the diverse needs of consumers. Additionally, brands strive to meet consumer expectations, such as curiosity and sensation-seeking, which go beyond consumers’ practical benefits and functional requirements. The modern-day consumer operates in a highly interconnected community with increased and diverse communication channels. This environment renders it easy for brands to engage and reach consumers swaying their allegiance owing to the attractiveness of offers.
The present-day consumer focuses on product and service benefits and functionalities. Research shows that 6% of modern-day consumers focus on product functionality hence product-driven consumers. This category of consumers has low brand engagement and depends on reviews and exploring the digital and physical information channels for new products and services (Haller et al., 2020). According to findings, product-driven consumers are insensitive to service and product prices, showing a willingness to pay premium prices. Besides costs, product-driven consumers are sensitive to the sincerity and authenticity of services and products offered through different shopping channels (Haller et al., 2020). They vouch for brand trust and transparency when engaging in new services and products released by brands. Half of the product-driven consumers below the middle income indicate a fair proportion of product-driven modern-day consumers.
Recent study findings have shown that consumers fall into value-driven, purpose-driven, and brand-driven consumption categories. From the findings, 13% of modern consumers are brand-driven since they exhibit brand loyalty in their purchasing decisions (Haller et al., 2020). This group has the highest income among consumer categories and displays brand trust when engaging brands (37% have incomes above the middle income) (Haller et al., 2020). Moreover, brand-driven consumers pay premium prices for services and products that suit their lifestyles. The majority of brand-driven consumers come from the northern American Middle East, Latin America, and India.
Purpose-driven consumers, on the other hand, make shopping decisions based on brand’s capability to satisfy their expectations and align with their lifestyles. This group carries the lion’s share of the consumer base (40%) (Haller et al., 2020). Purpose-driven consumers have a high propensity to shift allegiance among brands as their shopping habits keep changing according to time and settings. Additionally, purpose-driven consumers display sustainability behavior owing to their willingness to transform shopping and consumption habits to safeguard the environment and practice environmental protection practices such as recycling and reusing waste products. Several purpose-driven consumers come from Latin America and Southeast Asia (Haller et al., 2020). More than 50% of purpose-driven consumers have an income exceeding their regular income.
Value-driven consumers are another category with the lion’s share (41%) of consumers in modern society. According to research, value-driven consumers make purchasing decisions based on the service and product benefits convenience and seek to find value in services and products (Haller et al., 2020). They focus on getting value for money when purchasing decisions and exhibit a high propensity to switch brands and shopping habits for sustainability. The shifting attitudinal and behavioural brand loyalties in the value-driven consumers manifest in their preference for brands based on convenience, availability, and affordability (price). Less than 50% of value-driven consumers earn below or at the middle-income level (Haller et al., 2020). Value-driven consumers come from South East Asia, northern European parts, and parts of North America.
Consumer Inertia and Loyalty
Purchase inertia describes a concept where consumers portray a passive approach in their association with a particular brand without demonstrating willingness to sacrifice for the brand. Consumers demonstrate personal inactivity and laziness in their approach towards consumer products and services. These consumers prefer to associate with the brand inactively while waiting for possible opportunities to switch their allegiance (Ercis et al., n.d.). It implies consumers act as regular shoppers with habitual behaviour for a particular brand over a particular time. These consumers prefer to stick with current brands without taking additional risks to explore price variations and new alternatives in the market. Moreover, consumers portray an unconscious process of purchasing products and services from a particular brand. The unconscious and in acting how big are shopping from the same brand is brand inertia (Ercis et al., n.d.). Consumers demonstrate brand inertia depending on the level of convenience the brand offers through its pricing and proximity to their location. Consequently, these consumers have a brand inertia associated with cost and time.
Inertia consumers do not abandon the brand when attractive ventures appear in the market due to their laziness to explore alternatives. However, inertia consumers abandon the band whenever they feel dissatisfied with the product or service for prolonged periods. The abandonment behavior implies searching for assortment. This behavior goes against sacrificial brand loyalty where consumers demonstrate reluctance to abandon their favored brand regardless of the availability and attractiveness of alternatives (Ercis et al., n.d.). Similar to brand loyalty, consumer inertia occurs when consumers demonstrate reluctance to switch brands. This behavior exists based on consumers’ previous experience with a particular brand that binds them to the brand. Inertia prevails when these consumers demonstrate attachment to the brand as a passive experience as opposed to having strong brand connection (Ercis et al., n.d.). High inertia levels occur when consumers stick with a brand regardless of new service and product entries in the market. Low inertia levels manifests whenever consumers exhibit extreme propensity for brands implying persistent switching behavior based on costs and time.
Various reasons exist for consumers to exhibit inertia behavior. The first reason for inertia consumers is consumers’ laziness and desire to save time spend for inspecting products and learning about brands values. Consumers prefer to retain previous brands when shopping to avoid spending time reading through reviews and exploring brand websites for information (Wu, 2011). Time saving behavior implies consumers’ unwillingness to explore brands services and products and compare with other brand’s services and products. Secondly, consumers display inertia behavior due to familiarity with particular products and services from a specific brand. This familiarity makes consumers continue shopping from a specific brand to reduce risk levels accompanying products (Ercis et al., n.d.). The third reason is the enormous gap between consumer’s preferable brands and alternative brands in the market orchestrating repeat behavior. Increase in consumers’ inertia levels increased their tendency to purchase products and services from a particular brand several times. These consumers are comfortable with products and services from particular store while feeling uncomfortable exploring a different choice.
Consumer inertia starts and develops among consumers from the time of interacting with a particular product. Consumer frequency to shopping from a particular store affects the development of consumer inertia positively. However, price perception has a negative impact on consumers’ tendency to develop inertia (Wu, 2011). Furthermore, inertia consumption among consumers increases with the high cost of obtaining information about a new product or service provider. Consumers shy away from extra costs required to evaluate a new service provider and store for shopping. Nevertheless, consumers rely on previous satisfaction levels to develop inertia behavior.
Consumer inertia has slight differences from spurious behavior. Despite both consumers exhibiting passive loyalty, spurious inertia is loyalty out of patronage. Consumers express forced repeated repurchasing behavior out of convenience and necessity (Wu, 2011). The degree of commitment and engagement in action inertia varies from the non-conscious inertia. Consequently, consumer loyalty emerges when consumers portray inertia.
The intersection of consumer loyalty and inertia describes the contemporary consumer whose preference for brands depends on affordability, convenience, and availability. Consumers portray inertia when they are purchasing behaviour that is situational and timely. These consumers display repetitive behaviour, showing behavioral brand loyalty but lacking conscious development (Sadeghi et al., 2014). However, these consumers drift away from brands for never attractive alternatives appear in the market. Consumer inertia manifests in the unwillingness of consumers to strike a psychological bond with the brand by avoiding price comparisons and adjusting shopping decisions (Khajouei & Nayebzadeh, 2013). Inertial consumers strive to reduce the mental and physical work done to compare brands and explore new practices and routines in the market.
The market’s competitive nature determines the capability of retaining and sustaining inertial customers. Inertia consumers depict laziness, passiveness, and static behaviour, preventing them from exploring new purchasing decisions through learning and comparisons (Sadeghi et al., 2014). This behavior leads to inertia in consumers’ tendency to repurchase from the same brand passively.
Levels of Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty is a unidirectional variable whose primary factor is consumer satisfaction. However, brand loyalty has other factors determining its qualification. These factors include gratification levels, emotional attachment, and motivation of consumers. This loyalty concept implies that the absence of consumer satisfaction corresponds to the lack of or diminished brand loyalty. Additionally, brands will struggle to sustain brand loyalty among consumers if they do not satisfy consumer expectations. Researchers have classified and categorized loyalty in particular brands in levels based on how brands fulfill the factors of consumer satisfaction, gratification, and emotional bonding. These levels of loyalty include;
- True loyalty
- Latent loyalty
- Non-existent loyalty
- Feigned loyalty
|Brand Loyalty Level||Description|
|True Loyalty||Consumers display high commitment and intention to repurchase from the brand willingly.
Consumers show willingness, motivation, and purpose to engage with the brand.
The affective and cognitive ties between consumers and the brand are robust, with a feeling of satisfaction and confidence
|Latent Loyalty||Consumers display partial engagement with the brand
Consumers’ attitude towards the brand is passive
Consumers show a slight propensity for brand switching
|Insincere Loyalty||The engagement between consumers and the brand is involuntary
The consumer exhibit inadequacy of time and money to sacrifice for their brand
The purchasing behaviour of consumers is forceful from factors of convenience, availability, and availability.
|Non-existent Loyalty||Consumers demonstrate a low level of loyalty to the brand
Consumers’ commitment levels are low
Consumers show disinterest in any particular brand
Brand loyalty, Brand Trust, Customer Experience
Customer experience is a crucial component connecting consumers and brands in their interaction. Brands operate as human beings exhibiting personalities and attitudes manifested through personnel products and communication channels. The overall experience between consumers and brands enables consumers to learn to receive brand information through its marketing programs. Subsequently, consumers engage the brand by exploring its services and products. The interaction experience is complete at the post-purchase evaluation of services and products acquired from the brand.
Consumer brands must be able to strike and sustain long-lasting relationships with consumers through a positive consumer experience. Research findings have shown a positive correlation between consumer loyalty and customer experiences during brand-consumer interaction. These findings have shown how customer experience positively impacts brand loyalty, particularly in retail brands. Besides retail, B2B service engagements require excellent customer experiences, such as providing online shopping to increase the quality of customer experiences and increase brand loyalty.
The contemporary consumer is sensitive to brand trust issues and explores the sincerity and authenticity aspects of brands. The sincerity and authenticity of brand characteristics dictate the formation of long-lasting psychological bonds with consumers. When consumers have trust in their brands, the frequency, and intensity of repurchasing from the brand increases. Research shows that consumers demonstrate attitudinal and behavioral brand loyalty when the brand guarantees trust through its actions and interaction with consumers. Retail and B2B businesses require desirable levels of consumer trust before receiving attitudinal and behavioral brand loyalty from consumers. In online shopping, consumers develop brand loyalty attributes when brands deliver services and products with sincerity and authenticity.
Modern-day consumers exhibit a high propensity for switching allegiance among brands. This behaviour owes to the extreme competition among brands on the market offering services and products that serve the same purpose of satisfying consumer expectations. Consequently, brands must be willing to develop a lasting emotional bond with consumers to deter their propensity to switch between brands that are best on the offerings. This development implies that brands must explore ways of creating an emotional bond with consumers to create a loyal consumer base. Consumers acquire sincerity and authenticity and expect positive shopping experiences when engaging with brands before developing the intention to become repeat customers.
Inertia consumers possess repeat purchasing without thought and emotional attachment to a brand. These consumers engage brands on a repetitive scale despite harboring negative opinions on the brand’s shortcomings and failings in satisfying consumer expectations. Nevertheless, inertia consumers are unstable in their brand engagement owing to the absence or inconsequential brand commitment. Moreover, inertia consumption represents an acceptance of convenience for a particular situation. This behavior culminates into spurious loyalty, where consumers show connection and interact with the brands without intentions for lasting engagement and goal orientation. A spurious relationship intertwines with relationship inertia, where consumers continue purchasing behavior and repurchasing habits without a meaningful and psychological connection to the brand. Inertia consumption elapses when attractive alternatives enter the market and reach the inertia consumer through customer-centric marketing initiatives.
The concept of sacrificing emerges from the actions involving gift-giving and sharing resources. Sacrificial loyalty implies that consumers willingly go beyond self-interest without expectation of practical benefits or feeling significant losses. Individuals engage with a brand on the auspices of sacrificial loyalty by engaging in relationships reminiscent of marriages, congregations, or clans (Fernandes & Proença, 2013). It manifests when consumers spend their money to acquire services on products from their favourite brands. This action resembles familial engagement, where a guardian spends their last $20 to take their two sons to the movies without feeling any loss but emotional satisfaction (Matear, 2014). Moreover, a guardian benefits from sustained friendship with family friends by giving the child $10 to accompany the guardian’s child to the movies. Sacrificial gestures from brand-loyal consumers attract feelings of personal well-being, social satisfaction, and a sense of bonding with the brand.
Sacrifice occurs when buyers retain the brand regardless of market, pricing, time and geographical changes in the seller-buyer relationship. It involves consumer actions that demonstrate foregoing self-interest in their behaviour. Moreover, the consumer forgoes feelings of loss or adverse implications on the consumer (Matear, 2014). Consumers accept to subordinate their brand expectations to extend and strengthen the emotional bond and relationship well-being with their brands. However, consumers sacrificing their self-interest favoured brand requires reciprocity from the brand. Balanced reciprocity between consumers and brands is achievable when each party subordinates its self-interest (Matear, 2014). Moreover, consumer and brand decisions focus on realizing cost-benefit for each party.
Today’s market operates under the guidance of legal authority and a code of ethics, replacing the previous social proximity and ethical guidelines. The legal authority provides the framework for trustworthiness between consumers and their favourite brands. A brand-loyal consumer’s willingness differs from a loyal sacrificial consumer’s (Matear, 2014). A brand-loyal consumer expects the brand to fulfill its expectations by satisfying leads and problems. On the other hand, loyal sacrificial consumers have low expectations from the brand manifested through their disposition of personal gain (Fernandes & Proença, 2013). This sacrificial concept distinguishes consumer willingness in a market exchange and a sacrificial engagement involving extreme brand loyalty.
Value of Willingness to Sacrifice
A sacrificial relationship between brands and consumers has underlying benefits to each party that triggers and sustains the desire to remain in the relationship. Primary benefits are the relationship continued and satisfaction which is mutually shared between each party. These pro-social benefits are attainable through the mutual willingness of each party to forgo their self-interest. Thus, willingness is the mediating factor in the sacrificial relationship between brands and their consumers.
Relationship satisfaction is a crucial outcome of sacrificial royalty. It determines the consumer’s willingness to forgo self-interest by sacrificing time and money for the brand. The sacrificial relationship is a-reliable metric in measuring consumers’ willingness since other metrics, such as longevity, mislead when dealing with spurious or inertia consumers or a market lacking alternatives (Yun et al., 2019). Several research findings have supported the connection between sacrificial relationships and satisfaction as necessary factors in the consumer’s willingness (Matear, 2014). This conceptualization resembles intimate relationships such as marriage, where parties are ready to sacrifice but expect satisfaction through appreciation, positive emotions, and overall satisfaction of the soul. In the brand-consumer relationship, a similar rationale dictates the bond established and its strength and quality depending on consumer’s interests and expectations (Yun et al., 2019). However, the conceptualization around satisfaction and willingness to sacrifice raise concerns about the underside of sacrifice. It follows that sacrifice and consumers’ willingness can encounter conditions that hurt relationship partners.
Longevity is a metric in sacrificial relationships, focusing on each party’s persistence and duration. Brands and consumers must show an extreme willingness to sacrifice for the persistence of the relationship. The connection is reminiscent of married couples sacrificing for marriage success. Similar comparisons in corporate engagement involve the willingness of corporations and surrounding communities to sacrifice their self-interest for the benefit of the opposite party (Hasfar et al., 2020). Corporations sacrifice their profit-making ventures for the surrounding community through corporate social responsibility and other community-centric programs. Conversely, surrounding communities forgo their self-interest by granting corporations desirable operating conditions for growth and expansion (Hasfar et al., 2020). This community’s sacrifice through providing available and cheap labour while consuming products from the corporation is a priority.
Expressiveness and transformation are primary processes that underlie the willingness and sacrificial relationships to persist. These processes occur jointly for the successful longevity of brand-consumer relationships. Transformation begins when brands and consumers strike a partnership that evolves when each party embraces collectivism in their approach toward pro-relationship orientation (Izaak & Alit, 2018). Consequently, brands and consumers embrace pro-social attitudes toward each other, creating an enabling environment for collaboration. The cooperation between brands and consumers creates mutual trust, which is a primary indicator of brand loyalty (Izaak & Alit, 2018). Subsequently, the brand-consumer relationship develops into reciprocal sacrifice, reinforcing self-identities within each party’s consciousness.
Transformation operates simultaneously with expressiveness manifesting through self-expression actions. Brands and consumers engage in actions that promote shared values and portray interest in self-identities (Loureiro, 2011). Each party is willing to sacrifice for one other in the relationship signaling commitment. The willingness and commitment to the relationship through actions confirm reliability. Each party trusts one other to subordinate the expectations and self-interest, leading to the reciprocity of actions that encourage the longevity of the sacrificial relationship (Loureiro, 2011). Reciprocity of the willingness to subordinate expectations and self-interest between brands and consumers degenerates into continuity and interdependence. Thus, brand longevity is an outcome of sacrificial loyalty from consumers, which shows consumer willingness to stick with the brand regardless of alternatives and brand feelings in service, product prices, and availability.
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