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Values, Optimum Stimulation and Brand Loyalty: New Scales in New Populations


  • Seven M. Burgess
  • Mari Harris


The new emphasis on relationships in marketing has spurred a resurgence of interest in brand loyalty and the positive effect of brand loyalty on company profitability and long-term survival have been well-documented in recent years. Recent research has begun to identify new types and sources of affect that might comprise and distinguish loyalty responses, especially from a phenomenological perspective. This article focuses on exploratory consumer behavior (ECB), an often-neglected influence on brand loyalty that has received almost no attention in the brand loyalty literature. Risk-taking in product and retail outlet choice innovative shopping behavior, variety and novelty-seeking, browsing and recreational shopping and curiosity-motivated information processing are among the many consumer behaviors thought to have strong exploratory components. The tendency to engage in ECB has been operationalized most often using instruments designed to measure optimum stimulation level (OSL) (Baumgartner & Steenkamp, 1996; Steenkamp & Baumgartner, 1992). Although values and OSL have been the focus of large and important research streams, the role of values in ECB has not been explored. South Africa is an important transition economy receiving much interest from international investors. It is important as a market and as an entry point to sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Rim. The current research employed two new instruments, Steenkamp and Baumgartner's new shortened Change Seeker Index (CSI) and Schwartz' new Portraits Questionnaire (PQ), in a study of the optimum stimulation level (OSL) and value priorities of a nationally-representative sample of 3493 South Africans. Schwartz' theory concerning the structure and content of values has received much interest in the psychology literature during the decade. The theory proposes ten motivational value types that are distinguished by the motivational goal each value type each expresses. These four value types are further thought to aggregate into four higher-order values. The nature of Schwartz' value structure is such that the inter-relationships of the value types can be represented with a circular structure in which those value types most negativciy correlated will appear on opposite sides of the circle and value types most similar will appear adjacent to one another. When one relates a concept such as OSL to the motivational value types, one would expect a sinusoid curve to emerge. In particular, one would expect high OSL consumers to place more priority on openness-to-change values and less priority on conservation values. Moreover, the theory would predict opposite value priorities for low OSL consumers. The results indicate that high and low OSL consumers exhibit value differences consistent with Schwartz' theory about the content and structure of values and the predicted sinusoid pattern between value priorities and OSL emerged. The association between values and brand loyalty exhibited three general sinusoid patterns. Comparative sample partitions based on value priorities and OSLs suggest that values may be sensitive to a wider range of motivations that underlie differences in exploratory product acquisition, shopping behavior and brand loyalty. The results suggest that value priorities and OSL are important influences on brand loyalty behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Seven M. Burgess & Mari Harris, 1998. "Values, Optimum Stimulation and Brand Loyalty: New Scales in New Populations," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 210, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:1998-210

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    values; OSL; brand loyalty;

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