The Impact of Trust and Brand Relationship Quality on Perceived Value and Loyalty in a Consumer Goods Environment Carol F. Gwin Pepperdine University, Marketing Department Graziadio School of Business and Management 6100 Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045 Phone: 310-574-9242; Fax: 310-568-5778 E-mail: email@example.com ABSTRACT Relationship marketing has been shown to benefit consumers as well as companies in businessto-business and business-to-consumer services markets. This research investigates the impact of relationship marketing in the business-to-consumer goods context by addressing how trust and brand relationship quality (BRQ) impact consumer’s perceived value of the brand and brand loyalty. This paper contributes to the marketing discipline by showing that trust is an important antecedent for relationships, and that building strong relationships increases customers’ perceived value for and ultimately loyalty to the brand. As such, building strong brand relationships does have the potential to create a competitive advantage for a firm – even for consumer goods. INTRODUCTION Consumers look for value in the brands that they buy. Typically, value is defined based on the benefits received relative to the costs. In consumer goods, benefits that have historically been considered include product quality, features or attributes of the product, and convenience. Companies invest in these attributes to increase customer’s perceived value and loyalty for the brand. One area that has been largely overlooked is the potential for consumers to have an affinity for, or a relationship with, a brand of soda or athletic footwear or computer. However, even in our everyday conversations, we often allude to these relationships with comments such as ―I’m dying for a Pepsi‖ or ―I love these Air Jordans‖ or ―I don’t know what I’d do without my MacBook.‖ In an interpersonal context, we would take these statements to be exclamations of love for the other individual. In a consumer goods context, these statements are often ignored or merely taken as expressions of loyalty. Building strong brand relationships has been cited as one way to increase customer value and loyalty. In fact, relationship marketing is considered to be ―probably the best approach to creating value for the customer‖ (Crosby et al. 2002, p. 10). In turn, customer value is perceived as a critical source for competitive advantage – with companies competing on other elements of perceived value beyond merely product quality (cf. Woodruff 1997). In her seminal research in this area, Fournier (1994, 1998) finds support that consumers do have relationships with tangible goods and that this impacts their feeling of loyalty for these goods. Building on prior research in the business-to-business arena, this research extends Fournier’s 528
(1994, 1998) qualitative research by proposing a model of the impact of trust and brand relationship quality (hereafter called BRQ) on perceived value and loyalty. Across multiple studies, this research empirically tests whether consumers develop relationships with specific brands of consumer goods, and if so, how these relationships impact perceived value and loyalty for the brand. As such, the contribution of this research to the marketing literature is threefold. First, it provides a conceptual model of the relationships between perceived brand share, two components of trust (benevolence and competence), quality, BRQ, perceived value, and two components of loyalty (attitude and purchase). Second, the model brings together research in the business-to-business context with the literature on value and loyalty in the business-to-consumer context. Third, this conceptual model is empirically tested to determine the validity of the hypothesized relationships. LITERATURE REVIEW The Importance of BRQ and Relationship Marketing Brand relationship quality has its roots in the burgeoning literature on relationship marketing. While relationship...
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