What are ‘true’ loyal consumers in the food sector? Insights from an empirical study
Because loyal consumers are less likely to switch to competitors and because they are more tolerant to increases in price than non-loyal consumers, one of the main aims of firms is the “generation” of loyal consumers. But what is consumer loyalty? The marketing literature emphasises that for “true loyalty” it is important to consider both consumers' purchasing pattern (i.e. repurchases) as well as the underlying attitudes of the consumers. Thus, true loyalty includes both a behavioural (purchase) component, which results in repeated purchases, and an attitudinal component, which results in a dispositional commitment to a product, a brand, or a company, and associates a unique value to it. However, considering the characteristics of food products and the sector the question arises whether the above mentioned strict definition of true consumer loyalty is realistic in the food sector. The aim of our paper is to empirically test this question. In order to test our research question we conduct 30 semi-structured in-death interviews with regular customers of an organic retail shop in March / April 2009. Each interview lasts for roughly thirty minutes.
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