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Introduction
In recent competitive business environments, consumers have been exposed
to a proliferation of brand choice alternatives. Fisher (1985) states
“Marketers battling to keep competitors from grabbing off customers
complain that there just doesn’t seem to be as much brand loyalty around as
there used to be.” This complaint means that it is not easy to obtain and
maintain consumers’ loyalty to a company’s product, since there are many
forces driving consumers to be unloyal (e.g., competitions, consumers’ thirst
for variety, etc).
In order for managers to cope with the forces of disloyalty among
consumers, they need to have an accurate method to measure and predict
brand loyalty. However, it has seemed impossible to obtain an objective and
general measurement of brand loyalty, because brand loyalty has been
differently defined and operationalized by a number of scholars. The diverse
definition and operationalization of brand loyalty has been in part due to the
various aspects of brand loyalty (e.g. behavioral and attitudinal brand
loyalty).
Jacoby and Chestnut (1978) state “If brand loyalty is ever to be managed,
not just measured, it will have to be elaborated in a much more detailed
description of cognitive activities rather than focusing only on behavioral
aspects of brand loyalty (e.g., repeat purchase)”. The statement made by
Jacoby and Chestnut (1978) implies that previous studies of brand loyalty
have mostly focussed on the measurement issue of brand loyalty by
investigating repeat purchase of a brand. Cognitive aspects of brand loyalty
make it possible to predict what purchase behavior would be followed by a
certain cognitive response. For example, a bad attitude toward a certain
brand would result in switching behavior of purchase.
Until now, there have been few studies of how several antecedents of
behavioral brand loyalty are inter-related. If the antecedents are integrated to
measure and predict brand loyalty, the measurement will be more stable over
time and accurate. The purpose of this paper is to integrate three aspects of
brand loyalty (cognitive response, subjective norm and purchase behavior),
and to investigate the relationships among several antecedents of behavioral
brand loyalty by introducing the theory of reasoned action by Fishbein
(1980).
What is brand loyalty?
Customer loyalty has been a major focus of strategic marketing planning
(Kotler, 1984) and offers an important basis for developing a sustainable
competitive advantage – an advantage that can be realized through
marketing efforts (Dick and Basu, 1994). They report that academic research
on loyalty has largely focussed on measurement issues (e.g., Kahn et al.,
1986) and correlates of loyalty with consumer characteristics in a
segmentation context (e.g., Frank, 1967). A few brand loyalty studies found
price promotions as the antecedents of brand switching behavior (Bawa and
Shoemaker, 1987; Rothschild and Gaidis, 1981; Winer, 1986). They agree
that price promotions increase sales in the short term. Some researchers have
proposed and found empirically that if consumers have been satisfied with
the promoted brand, their satisfaction is reinforcing and leads to an increase
in the probability of choosing the brand again after the promotion is
withdrawn, particularly for previous non-users of the brand (Kahn and
Louie, 1990; Rothschild and Gaidis, 1981). Other researchers found that
lineage is an antecedent of brand loyalty (Miller, 1975; Moore-Shay and
Lutz, 1988). For example, Moore-Shay and Lutz (1988) reported that mother
and daughter had shown same brand preference and shopping strategy
congruence.
Many studies on the topic of brand loyalty have been measured by the
behavioral aspect of brand loyalty (e.g., repeat purchases) without
considering cognitive aspects of brand loyalty. For example, Fader and
Schmittlein (1993) conducted a research investigating the advantage of high
share brands in brand loyalty, suggesting that high share brands have
significantly higher brand loyalty than low share brands. They measured
brand loyalty only by the behavioral aspect of repeat purchase, not
considering cognitive aspects of brand loyalty. Bayus (1992) also
operationalized brand loyalty by a behavioral measurement of probability of
purchasing the same appliance brand as the one previously owned in his
study on brand switching analysis of home appliances.
However, brand loyalty is not a simple uni-dimensional concept, but a very
complex multi-dimensional concept. Wilkie (1994) defines brand loyalty as
“a favorable attitude toward, and consistent purchase of, a particular brand”.
However, such a definition is too simple to understand brand loyalty in the
context of consumer behavior. The definition implies that consumers are
brand loyal when both attitude and behavior are favorable. However, it does
not clarify the intensity of brand loyalty, because it precludes the possibility
that a consumer’s attitude is unfavorable, while he/she repeats the purchases.
In such case, the consumer’s brand loyalty would be superficial and shallow
rooted.
Another definition of brand loyalty that compensates for the incompleteness
of Wilkie’s definition (1994) was offered by Jacoby and Chestnut (1978).
They provided a conceptual definition of brand loyalty that “brand loyalty is
(1) biased (i.e., non-random), (2) behavioral response (i.e., purchase), (3)
expressed over time, (4) by some decision-making unit, (5) with respect to
one or more brands out of a set of such brands, and is a function of
psychological (decision-making, evaluative) processes”. In their operational
definition of brand loyalty they identified three kinds of categories which the
various operational measures had been placed into (behavioral, attitudinal,
and composite; both attitudinal and behavioral).
Based on the behavioral element of brand loyalty, Sheth (1968) provides an
operational definition of brand loyalty that “brand loyalty is a function of a
brand’s relative frequency of purchase in both time-independent and time
dependent situations”. An operational definition of brand loyalty based on
the attitudinal element was provided by Reynolds et al. (1974). They viewed
brand loyalty as the tendency for a person to continue over time to exhibit
similar attitude in situations similar to those he/she has previously
encountered. Day (1969) suggests that loyalty should be evaluated with both
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