Curvilinear Effects of Consumer Loyalty Determinants in...

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96 Journal of Marketing Research Vol. XLII (February 2005), 96–108 *Clara Agustin is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Area of Manage- ment and Organization Studies, Department of Business and Economics, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (e-mail: [email protected]). Jagdip Singh is Professor of Marketing, Marketing and Policy Studies Department, Weath- erhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University (e-mail: [email protected]). This article was written when Clara Agustin was a doctoral candidate at the Strategy, International Management, and Mar- keting Department, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and a visiting scholar at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. The authors acknowledge the financial support and/or assistance provided by the Mar- keting Science Institute, Weatherhead School of Management Research Support Office, Nijmegen School of Management, and Strategic Consumer Research in data collection and analysis. The authors are grateful for the helpful comments and suggestions by Bas Hillebrand, Detelina Marinova, Deepak Sirdeshmukh, and the three anonymous JMR reviewers. CLARA AGUSTIN and JAGDIP SINGH* Drawing from need, motivation, and social exchange theories, this study conceptualizes and empirically examines the differential curvilinear effects of multiple determinants of loyalty intentions, including transac- tional satisfaction, trust, and value for relational exchanges. The authors conceptualize trust as a “motivator,” satisfaction as a “hygiene,” and value as a “bivalent” factor in consumer loyalty mechanisms. Using con- sumer data on relational exchanges in two different service contexts— retail clothing and nonbusiness airline travel—and accounting for differ- ent sources of error—namely, measurement, common method, and response style—the authors empirically investigate the hypothesized mechanisms. The data support the motivator, or the enhancing role of trust, and the hygiene, or the maintaining role of satisfaction, on loyalty intentions in both contexts. Although the authors also obtain consistent results for the influence of value, its role is aligned with a hygiene mech- anism, not a bivalent mechanism. The authors contribute to the study of loyalty antecedents by (1) theoretically proposing the nature and shape of the influence of different loyalty determinants, (2) considering the simultaneous and differential effects of multiple determinants, and (3) drawing implications from the results for theory and managerial practice. Curvilinear Effects of Consumer Loyalty Determinants in Relational Exchanges Contemporary marketing thought appears to converge on the principle that understanding and hopefully winning cus- tomer loyalty is critical for a firm’s long-term survival, innovativeness, and bottom-line returns. Both researchers and managers echo the received view that small changes in loyalty and retention (e.g., 5%) can yield disproportionately large changes in profitability (e.g., 25%–100%; Reichheld, Markey, and Hopton 2000; Reichheld and Teal 1996). This view is resonant in the shift of the marketing discipline away from the study of marketplace exchanges as transac- tions that need to be consummated to that of exchanges as relationships that need to be nurtured, preserved, and culti- vated (Berry 1995; Grönroos 1995; Morgan and Hunt 1994). Despite this emerging consensus, the discipline remains divided by the critical factors that can help a firm maintain and enhance consumer loyalty. Some researchers and prac- titioners extol the virtues of fully satisfying consumers by exceeding their expectations and infusing each exchange with delight and positive emotion (Jones and Sasser 1995; Rust and Oliver 2000). In contrast, Iacobucci, Grayson, and Ostrom (1994) and Hart and Johnson (1999) question whether simply delighting the consumer is sufficient for building long-term loyalty. Rather, Hart and Johnson (1999, pp. 10–11) argue that “a total trust strategy … is the ulti- mate test of consumer loyalty.” Likewise, Schneider and Bowen (1999) note that a service firm can retain consumers and achieve profitability through reciprocal relationships that are founded on safeguarding and affirming consumer security, fairness, and self-esteem. Finally, some practition- ers, including Gale (1994), Neal (1999), and other researchers, chide the discipline for falling prey to faddish trends in the search for shortcuts to achieve consumer loy- alty. In the most explicit rebuttal yet, Neal (2000, p. 19) challenges marketers to consider that it is “value [that] drives loyalty, not satisfaction.… Satisfaction is a necessary

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  • 96Journal of Marketing ResearchVol. XLII (February 2005), 96108

    *Clara Agustin is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Area of Manage-ment and Organization Studies, Department of Business and Economics,Universitat Pompeu Fabra (e-mail: [email protected]). Jagdip Singh isProfessor of Marketing, Marketing and Policy Studies Department, Weath-erhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University (e-mail:[email protected]). This article was written when Clara Agustin wasa doctoral candidate at the Strategy, International Management, and Mar-keting Department, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud Universityof Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and a visiting scholar at the WeatherheadSchool of Management, Case Western Reserve University. The authorsacknowledge the financial support and/or assistance provided by the Mar-keting Science Institute, Weatherhead School of Management ResearchSupport Office, Nijmegen School of Management, and Strategic ConsumerResearch in data collection and analysis. The authors are grateful for thehelpful comments and suggestions by Bas Hillebrand, Detelina Marinova,Deepak Sirdeshmukh, and the three anonymous JMR reviewers.

    CLARA AGUSTIN and JAGDIP SINGH*

    Drawing from need, motivation, and social exchange theories, thisstudy conceptualizes and empirically examines the differential curvilineareffects of multiple determinants of loyalty intentions, including transac-tional satisfaction, trust, and value for relational exchanges. The authorsconceptualize trust as a motivator, satisfaction as a hygiene, andvalue as a bivalent factor in consumer loyalty mechanisms. Using con-sumer data on relational exchanges in two different service contextsretail clothing and nonbusiness airline traveland accounting for differ-ent sources of errornamely, measurement, common method, andresponse stylethe authors empirically investigate the hypothesizedmechanisms. The data support the motivator, or the enhancing role oftrust, and the hygiene, or the maintaining role of satisfaction, on loyaltyintentions in both contexts. Although the authors also obtain consistentresults for the influence of value, its role is aligned with a hygiene mech-anism, not a bivalent mechanism. The authors contribute to the study ofloyalty antecedents by (1) theoretically proposing the nature and shapeof the influence of different loyalty determinants, (2) considering thesimultaneous and differential effects of multiple determinants, and (3)drawing implications from the results for theory and managerial practice.

    Curvilinear Effects of Consumer LoyaltyDeterminants in Relational Exchanges

    Contemporary marketing thought appears to converge onthe principle that understanding and hopefully winning cus-tomer loyalty is critical for a firms long-term survival,innovativeness, and bottom-line returns. Both researchersand managers echo the received view that small changes inloyalty and retention (e.g., 5%) can yield disproportionatelylarge changes in profitability (e.g., 25%100%; Reichheld,Markey, and Hopton 2000; Reichheld and Teal 1996). Thisview is resonant in the shift of the marketing disciplineaway from the study of marketplace exchanges as transac-

    tions that need to be consummated to that of exchanges asrelationships that need to be nurtured, preserved, and culti-vated (Berry 1995; Grnroos 1995; Morgan and Hunt1994).

    Despite this emerging consensus, the discipline remainsdivided by the critical factors that can help a firm maintainand enhance consumer loyalty. Some researchers and prac-titioners extol the virtues of fully satisfying consumers byexceeding their expectations and infusing each exchangewith delight and positive emotion (Jones and Sasser 1995;Rust and Oliver 2000). In contrast, Iacobucci, Grayson, andOstrom (1994) and Hart and Johnson (1999) questionwhether simply delighting the consumer is sufficient forbuilding long-term loyalty. Rather, Hart and Johnson (1999,pp. 1011) argue that a total trust strategy is the ulti-mate test of consumer loyalty. Likewise, Schneider andBowen (1999) note that a service firm can retain consumersand achieve profitability through reciprocal relationshipsthat are founded on safeguarding and affirming consumersecurity, fairness, and self-esteem. Finally, some practition-ers, including Gale (1994), Neal (1999), and otherresearchers, chide the discipline for falling prey to faddishtrends in the search for shortcuts to achieve consumer loy-alty. In the most explicit rebuttal yet, Neal (2000, p. 19)challenges marketers to consider that it is value [that]drives loyalty, not satisfaction. Satisfaction is a necessary

  • Consumer Loyalty in Relational Exchanges 97

    but not sufficient component of loyalty. Notably, thesedebates and divides appear to grow in intensity and stri-dency as consumer loyalty continues to remain elusive andunpredictable.

    We aim to conduct an empirical study that takes an initialstep toward bridging these divides. Three aspects of ourstudy are noteworthy. First, we develop and test a model forthe mechanisms of loyalty intentions that examines simulta-neously the effects of multiple determinants, includingtransactional satisfaction, trust, and value. To date, fewstudies have examined these competing, multiple predictorswithin a single, simultaneous model. Second, we do not relyon simple, linear conceptualizations to model the effect ofindividual predictors of loyalty intentions. Rather, we con-ceptualize complex mechanisms that involve curvilineareffects. These curvilinear hypotheses are based on need,motivation, and social exchange theories. Few previousstudies have used a strong theoretical foundation to positcurvilinear effects of loyalty determinants (cf. Andersonand Mittal 2000). Third, we situate our study in ongoingrelational exchanges in which consumers have establishedsome level of a relationship with service providers on thebasis of an experience stream of prior episodes. We do thisto recognize that, compared with transactional exchanges,relational exchanges involve disparate substantive mecha-nisms and conceptual considerations (Garbarino and John-son 1999; Morgan and Hunt 1994; Sirdeshmukh, Singh, andSabol 2002). Although the study of transactional exchangesis important in its own right, a focus on relationalexchanges ensures that our results are not contaminated byexchange heterogeneity and are likely to yield usefulinsights for relationship marketing theory and practice.Such insights offer fertile ground for further theoreticalresearch and a sound foundation for managerial guidelines.

    THE PROPOSED MODEL: THEORY AND HYPOTHESES

    We develop hypotheses for the curvilinear mechanismsthat affect loyalty intentions by focusing on three key deter-minants: transactional satisfaction, trust, and value.Although marketing literature identifies other antecedentsof loyalty, we focus on these three constructs because oftheir prominent academic and managerial relevance. Werecognize that there is significant debate and controversyabout the linkages that connect satisfaction, trust, value, andloyalty intentions and about other constructs that may medi-ate and/or moderate these relationships. Our study does notaim to resolve these controversies and debates. Rather, wefocus on contrasting the curvilinear relationships amongsatisfaction, trust, value, and loyalty intentions and do notfocus particularly on the mediating pathways that link theseconstructs to loyalty intentions. Furthermore, although sev-eral different formulations for mediating mechanisms havebeen proposed, for the purposes of our simultaneous analy-sis, we choose a formulation that is rooted in the literature,has received theoretical and empirical support, and is rele-vant for our context of relational exchanges. The proposedformulation includes partial mediation effects in which anantecedent has both a direct and an indirect effect (i.e.,mediated) on the dependent variable. Partial mediationrespects the view that our understanding of mechanisms istentative and evolving and that a definitive and consensualformulation has not yet emerged. We extend the literature

    by providing the theoretical foundation for and empiricalinsights into curvilinear dynamics.

    Conceptual Definitions and Background of LoyaltyDeterminants

    Figure 1 depicts the proposed model of consumer loyaltyintentions for relational exchanges. We define transaction-specific satisfaction as the degree of fulfillment of someneed, desire, goal, or other pleasurable end state that resultsfrom a specific exchange transaction between the consumerand a firm (Oliver 1997). Loyalty intentions are indicatedby an inclination to perform a diverse set of behaviors thatsignal a motivation to enhance an ongoing relationship withthe service provider, including repeat buying and greatershare of wallet. In general, the satisfactionloyalty literatureanticipates the direct, linear, and positive effect of satisfac-tion on loyalty (cf. Anderson and Mittal 2000). Yet empiri-cal studies often indicate that the relationship is indirect andcomplex (Mittal and Kamakura 2001; Mittal, Ross, andBaldasare 1998; Oliver 1999). Explanations for such dis-crepancies vary and are speculative. Oliver (1999, p. 34)notes that the direct relationship between satisfaction andloyalty might be misspecified and mediated by otherexchange-relevant constructs. The potential mediatingvariables must link (previous) transaction-specific satisfac-tion to the ongoing relational construct of loyalty. Gar-barino and Johnson (1999), Woodruff (1997), and Sirdesh-mukh, Singh, and Sabol (2002) suggest that relational trustand value act as the linking mediating variables. Consistentwith these studies, we define trust as a consumers confi-dent beliefs that he or she can rely on the seller to deliverpromised services, whereas we define relational value asthe consumers perceptions of the benefits enjoyed versusthe cost incurred in the maintenance of an ongoingexchange relationship. This conceptualization of valuecoheres with studies by Neal (1999) and Woodruff (1997).Using the trustcommitment theory of relationship market-ing, Garbarino and Johnson (1999) propose and demon-strate that whereas satisfaction mediates the relationshipbetween trust and loyalty intentions for transactionalexchanges, the mechanism is different for relationalexchanges. In the latter case, trust mediates the effect of sat-isfaction on loyalty intentions, and therefore the role of sat-isfaction in affecting loyalty intentions becomes less cen-tral. Sirdeshmukh, Singh, and Sabol (2002) extend thisfinding by conceptualizing and providing evidence for thepartial mediating role of relational value. Drawing from thetheory of goal-directed behaviors, Sirdeshmukh, Singh, andSabol argue that consumers seek relational value as thehigher-order goal in marketplace exchanges and that thisgoal regulates their future intentions, including loyalty. Thisstems from an important theoretical development in thetrust literature that involves the intrinsic and instrumentalmechanisms of trust. In an intrinsic mechanism, trust isintrinsically functional in exchange relationships, and con-sumers reward service providers that they trust through areciprocity mechanism with increased loyalty. In an instru-mental mechanism, trust is a desired benefit in relationalexchanges that is weighed against the costs of maintainingthe relationship (Grisaffe and Kumar 1998). In this mecha-nism, trust enhances loyalty intentions to the extent that itcontributes to relational value. The two trust mechanismscorrespond to the direct and mediated effects on loyalty.

  • 98 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2005

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  • Consumer Loyalty in Relational Exchanges 99

    Recognizing that alternative formulations exist in the lit-erature (i.e., Fornell et al. 1996; see also the related Ameri-can Customer Satisfaction Index [ACSI] stream of work),we note that the different formulations involve distinctionsalong two key factors: (1) the nature of exchange relation-ship as either relational or transactional and (2) the meas-urement level of the key constructs as either overall or spe-cific. For example, the ACSI model neither conceptualizessatisfaction at the transaction (-specific) level nor distin-guishes between relational and transactional consumers.Instead, the ACSI model conceptualizes satisfaction as acumulative constructthat is, an overall assessment overall past transactionsand is measured by three indicators:(1) overall satisfaction, (2) expectancy disconfirmation, and(3) relative performance (Fornell et al. 1996). However,when satisfaction is defined at a transactional level, concep-tualized as a degree of fulfillment, and a distinction isdrawn between relational and transactional consumers, Gar-barino and Johnson (1999) show that the role of satisfactionin affecting loyalty intentions becomes less central, andtrust assumes greater importance. Likewise, from a practi-tioner perspective, Neal (1999) has been a strong proponentof the view that it is value, not satisfaction, that drives loy-alty. For relational exchanges and satisfaction measured atthe transactional level, it follows from the preceding bodyof work that the influence of transactional satisfaction onloyalty intentions would be partially mediated by relationaltrust and value.

    Curvilinear Effects of Loyalty Determinants

    We propose that the effects of loyalty determinants depictsystematic curvilinearities that are captured by both signifi-cant linear and quadratic effects. Building on the need-gratification and dual-factor motivation theories (Herzberg1966; Maslow 1943; Wolf 1970) in the context of relationalexchanges (Houston and Gassenheimer 1987; Vargo andLusch 2004), we propose that the curvilinearities involveeither increasing or decreasing incremental effects on loy-alty intentions. That is, for any given determinant, anincreasing incremental effect implies that with higher val-ues of this determinant, a unit change has an increasinglygreater effect on loyalty intentions. In contrast, a decreas-ing incremental effect implies that with higher values ofthe determinant, a unit change has an increasingly smallereffect on loyalty intentions. In what follows, we providetheoretical arguments and extract hypotheses for the natureof curvilinearity for different loyalty determinants.

    According to need-gratification and dual-factor motiva-tion theories, individual needs can be broadly classified intotwo categories: (1) basic, lower-order, or hygiene needs and(2) growth, higher-order, or motivator needs (Herzberg1966; Wolf 1970). To the extent that unfulfilled and desiredneeds trigger and maintain goal pursuit, these theories arguethat when the environment is deficient in hygiene need ful-fillment such that the lower-order needs remain unfulfilled,the persons goal pursuit is motivated mainly by basic,lower-order needs and not by growth, higher-order needs;however, when the environment fulfills lower-order needs,the individual goal pursuit is motivated mainly by higher-order needs. The key argument is that though higher-orderneeds fail to motivate goal pursuit until lower-order needsare fulfilled, beyond some point of hygiene fulfillment,increasing fulfillment of higher-order needs has increasing

    incremental effects on goal pursuit. In contrast, beyond thispoint of hygiene fulfillment, increasing fulfillment of lower-order needs has decreasing incremental effects on goal pur-suit. In this sense, higher- and lower-order needs are mono-valent, though their motivating potential is activated indifferent ranges of need fulfillment. Oliver (1997) expandson this argument by including a third set of bivalent needsthat consistently motivate goal pursuit regardless of thelevel of fulfillment. In other words, a bivalent need has amonotonically increasing relationship with goal pursuit. Wedraw from the preceding notions of monovalent and biva-lent needs to propose curvilinear hypotheses for the differ-ent loyalty determinants based on the role that each plays inrelational exchanges. We note that relational exchanges gobeyond transactional exchanges because they involve socialexchange mechanisms in addition to fulfillment of eco-nomic goals (Vargo and Lusch 2004). However, becausefulfillment of economic goals is a core and basic need inmarket-based exchanges, we conceptualize related mecha-nisms to be consistent with the hygiene role in need-gratification theories (Houston and Gassenheimer 1987). Incontrast, because development of social bonds and relation-ships in market exchanges creates a generative mechanismthat grows and enhances exchange benefits, we conceptual-ize related mechanisms to be consistent with the growthrole in need-gratification theories (Vargo and Lusch 2004).Drawing on these conceptualizations, we propose that inrelational exchanges, transaction-specific satisfaction actsas a basic, lower-order, hygiene-type need; consumers trustin the service provider acts as a growth, higher-order need;and relational value in service exchanges serves a functionsimilar to bivalent needs.

    In our study, we define satisfaction as the degree ofneed fulfillment in a specific exchange transaction (Oliver1997). Because satisfaction evaluations are based on thedegree to which the service provider meets, fails to meet, orexceeds a consumers expectations in a single, priorepisode, economic, not social, aspects of exchange arelikely to dominate the transactional focus. Did the productwork as expected? Was the price fair? Such questions arelikely to drive transactional satisfaction evaluations(Iacobucci, Grayson, and Ostrom 1994). However, satisfac-tion evaluations likely influence consumers efforts to pur-sue and to maintain relational exchanges when the singleinstance yields negative informationthat is, when theservice provider fails to fulfill basic consumer expectations.In this case, a consumers norms for episode performanceare negatively disconfirmed on the basis of an experiencestream of ongoing relational exchanges. In contrast, whenthe episode provides service performance that meets orexceeds transactional norms, satisfaction is not sufficient toinfluence loyalty intentions in relational exchanges (Gar-barino and Johnson 1999). Thus, satisfaction likely has ahygiene effect on loyalty intentions such that it has adecreasing incremental effect beyond some point of expec-tation fulfillment. Furthermore, consistent with the work ofGarbarino and Johnson (1999), the necessary condition forloyalty intentions in relational exchanges is the fulfillmentof a higher-order need that relates to social aspects ofexchange, namely, a consumers trust in the serviceprovider. This coheres with the notion that consumer trust isfocused on expectations of a service providers trustworthi-ness in a stream of future episodes (Sirdeshmukh, Singh,

  • 100 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2005

    and Sabol 2002). Thus, we expect that unit changes in aconsumers trust in the service provider have an increas-ingly greater effect on loyalty intentions after a basic levelof exchange fulfillment has been achieved. Finally, rela-tional value reflects both the social benefits and the eco-nomic costs of maintaining the present and futureexchanges with the service provider. When costs exceedbenefits, further increases in costs of relational exchangesare likely to erode loyalty. When the benefits are sufficientto cover the costs of relational exchanges, relational valuecontinues to exert an influence on loyalty because relationalvalue is likely to fulfill higher-order needs. In this sense,relational value reflects a consumers consideration of botheconomic and social aspects of his or her relationship withthe service provider. Thus, we expect that relational value isboth a necessary and a sufficient condition for loyalty inten-tions, which is consistent with its bivalent mechanism.

    Although studies have examined some of the precedingeffects, none has empirically examined the simultaneouseffects of all the posited curvilinear relationships in a singlestudy. This is a critical gap in the literature that renders cur-rent interpretations ambiguous. For example, Oliva, Oliver,and MacMillan (1992) find that satisfaction and loyalty arerelated in a linear and nonlinear fashion, depending ontransaction costs. Likewise, Mittal and Kamakura (2001)and Gmez, McLaughin, and Wittink (2004) find evidenceof nonlinearities for the relationship between overall satis-faction and behavioral loyalty. Johnson and Auh (1998)consider the role of trust in a multivariate mechanism inwhich satisfaction and loyalty depict significantly differenteffects, depending on the nature of the environment. How-ever, none of the studies proposes or examines the differentforms of curvilinear relationships for disparate determinantsof loyalty. On the basis of our discussion, we propose thefollowing:

    H1: Transaction satisfaction has a decreasing incremental effectsuch that it has (a) a positive, linear effect and (b) a nega-tive, quadratic effect on loyalty intentions.

    H2: Consumers trust in the service provider has an increasingincremental effect such that it has (a) a positive, lineareffect and (b) a positive, quadratic effect on loyaltyintentions.

    H3: Consumers perception of relational value has a symmetri-cally increasing effect such that it has (a) a positive, lineareffect but (b) no quadratic effect on loyalty intentions.

    Note that we do not propose any hypotheses for thecurvilinear relationships of transactional satisfaction ontrust or for transactional satisfaction and trust on relationalvalue. As in prior research (Anderson and Mittal 2000), ourtheoretical development focuses on loyalty intentions as thedependent variable of interest. For intermediate dependentvariables, such as relational value and trust, the theoreticalfoundation is not strong enough to posit specific hypothe-ses. For this reason, we view the potential for curvilineari-ties in these linkages as a tentative position that may beexplored with the data at hand. If the results are promising,researchers may be encouraged to theorize these linkagesand to test them more rigorously.

    RESEARCH DESIGN

    We selected two service industries, retail clothing pur-chases and nonbusiness airline travel, for our study. We

    selected the specific industries to allow for some common-ality in terms of structural and relational characteristics. Forour study, we focused on exchanges that were likely todepict relational characteristics. For the retail category, weasked consumers to focus on exchanges with a clothingstore that involved at least a $50 purchase during one visitand at least two visits over the past six months. If con-sumers did not have retail exchanges that satisfied the pre-ceding qualifying criteria, we asked them to return theuncompleted survey. For the airline-travel category, weasked consumers to focus on exchanges with an airlinecompany for which they hold a frequent-flyer account andhave made at least one nonbusiness trip during the past sixmonths.

    Sample

    For each category, the sample consisted of 1230 ran-domly selected individual consumers who earned $35,000or higher and resided in the metropolitan area of a largeMidwestern city in the United States. Two waves of ques-tionnaires were mailed to all sampled households alongwith a cover letter; there was a four-week gap betweenmailings. In the retail category, the first wave resulted in182 returned surveys, and the second wave resulted in 143responses, for a total of 325 returned surveys and a 26%response rate. However, only 153 (84%) of the respondingconsumers in the first wave and 93 (65%) of the respon-dents in the second wave met prequalifying criteria. Over-all, this yields a qualifying rate of 76% for the retail cate-gory. In the airline category, the first wave produced 160responses, of which 72 respondents (45%) met the prequal-ifying criteria. Of the 141 responses in the second wave, 41respondents (29%) met the prequalifying criteria. Thus, weobtained a total of 301 responses (a response rate of 25%),of which 113 respondents met the prequalifying rate, whichyielded a qualifying rate of 38%.

    In the aggregate sample, a majority of the respondentshad a college degree or higher, were white, and were mar-ried. Overall, 50% of respondents were male. However,there was a significant gender imbalance in each servicecategory; 70% of respondents in the retail sample werefemale, and only 29% in the airline sample were female. Weconducted a wave analysis to examine the profile differ-ences of early and late respondents, but this indicated nosignificant demographic differences except for a highereducational level for the first-wave respondents in the air-line category (2 = 10.85, p < .01). We found no significantdifferences between early and late respondents for the studyconstructs (satisfaction, trust, value, and loyalty) regardlessof service context (F = .01 to 1.39, p > .20). In addition, tothe extent that a disproportionate number of males(females) did not respond to the retail (airline) survey, thereis a potential for nonresponse bias because gender mayinfluence the posited mechanisms of loyalty intentions.

    Measurements

    We present the correlation matrix of study constructs inTable 1. We drew all operational measures from the litera-ture. We used a three-item measure for loyalty intentionsbased on the work of Zeithaml, Berry, and Parasuraman(1996). This measure used a ten-point scale ranging fromvery likely to very unlikely. Respondents rated the like-lihood of doing most of their future shopping (i.e., share of

  • Consumer Loyalty in Relational Exchanges 101

    Table 1MEANS, STANDARD DEVIATIONS, AND INTERCORRELATIONS FOR THE STUDY CONSTRUCTS

    Loyalty Relational Relational Transaction Category AcquiescenceIntentions Value Trust Satisfaction Complexity Bias

    Retail SampleLoyalty intentions .56 .51 .41 .30 .03Relational value .49 .59 .54 .44 .01Relational trust .48 .54 .61 .24 .07Transactional satisfaction .33 .46 .56 .37 .00Category complexity .06 .08 .13 .06 .05Acquiescence bias .02 .03 .09 .02 .04

    Mean 7.32 7.68 7.25 6.78 6.38 1.15Standard deviation 1.78 1.56 1.54 2.23 2.16 1.30

    Airline SampleLoyalty intentions .63 .57 .36 .24 .17Relational value .59 .77 .66 .40 .74Relational trust .51 .71 .64 .51 .47Transactional satisfaction .24 .57 .51 .54 .23Category complexity .16 .01 .11 .19 .38Acquiescence bias .04 .63 .36 .09 .39

    Mean 6.83 7.29 6.37 7.46 6.61 .50Standard deviation 1.84 1.62 1.79 2.14 1.73 1.57

    Notes: Zero-order correlations are in the upper matrix; correlations adjusted for common method are in the lower matrix.

    category wallet), of repeating purchase, and of spendingmore than 50% of their clothing budget with the specificprovider (worded appropriately for the airline category).Likewise, we adapted a three-item measure of relationalvalue from existing research; respondents were asked toevaluate the prices paid, time spent, and effort involved inrelation to the benefits obtained to maintain an ongoingrelationship with the focal provider. We measured this on aten-point scale with anchors ranging from extremely goodvalue to extremely poor value and from highly reason-able to highly unreasonable. For relational trust, weadapted a six-item measure, with three items each to meas-ure trust in frontline employees and company policies andpractices. Respondents provided judgments on a ten-pointscale with anchors ranging from very low integrity tovery high integrity and from highly untrustworthy tohighly trustworthy. Finally, we included three items tomeasure transaction-specific consumer satisfaction with thelast experience. We used a ten-point scale with anchorsranging from highly unsatisfactory to highly satisfac-tory, from very unpleasant to very pleasant, and fromterrible to delightful.

    Method of Analysis

    To test the hypotheses, we formulated the following sys-tem of equations:

    (1) 1(trust) = 11(satisfaction) + 12(satisfaction2)

    + 13(method) + 14(acquiescence) + 1,

    (2) 2(value) = 21(satisfaction) + 22(satisfaction2) + 21(trust)

    + 23(trust2) + 24(method) + 25(acquiescence)

    + 2, and

    (3) 3(loyalty) = 31(satisfaction) + 32(satisfaction2) + 31(trust)

    + 33(trust2) + 32(value) + 34(value2)

    + 35(method) + 36(acquiescence) + 3,

    where refers to endogenous variables, and representsdisturbance terms. The and indicate coefficients for theinfluence of exogenous and endogenous variables,respectively.

    In estimating the preceding equations, we were sensitiveto three concerns: unhypothesized interactions, measure-ment error, and contextual variability. For the first concern,although we did not hypothesize interaction effects, severalresearchers have cautioned against excluding interactionterms. For example, Ganzachs (1997) simulation studyshows that misleading quadratic effects were obtained wheninteractions and multicollinearity were present but the inter-action terms were not modeled (see, also, Cohen et al.2003). Noting that including unhypothesized interactioneffects may be theoretically unappealing, Ganzach (1997)emphasizes that to reduce the probability of Type I andType II errors, both quadratic and interaction terms shouldbe included even if one of them is not suggested by theory.Thus, we amended Equations 13 to include the relevantinteraction terms. For example, Equation 2 includes a singleterm for the interaction between satisfaction and trust. Like-wise, Equation 3 includes three two-way interaction termsinvolving the satisfaction, trust, and value constructs.

    Another key concern was that measurement error mightundermine the statistical significance and/or curtail themagnitude of quadratic effects, thus making them difficultto detect (Busemeyer and Jones 1983). To overcome thisthreat, researchers have suggested estimation methods thatexplicitly model measurement error in the quadratic vari-ables. We used one such approach: the two-step version ofPings (1998) single-indicant estimation method (2SI) forlatent continuous variables. Because of the potential of cor-related error terms, we used structural equation modeling(SEM) for simultaneous estimation of multiple equationswith latent variables. To address these concerns jointly, weused the 2SI-SEM (single-indicant estimation methodwithin SEM) for our model estimations. The 2SI-SEM esti-mation involved using the following equations in which Xand Z represent the independent latent variables used to

  • 102 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2005

    1We used three semantic differential items to measure category com-plexity with anchors from very difficult to very simple, from highlycomplicated to very straightforward, and from very stressful to veryeasy for both retail and airline contexts.

    estimate the factor loadings and measurement error for thequadratic and interaction terms (Ping 1998):

    (4) x:x = xx, where x = (xi)/nx, and nx is the number

    of X indicators;

    (5) x:x = 4x 2Var(X)x + 2x2, where x = (xi)/nx2;

    (6) x:z = xz , where x is as previously, z = (zi)/nz,

    and nz is the number of Z indicators; and

    (7) x:z = x2Var(X)z + z2Var(Z)x + xz,

    where z = (zi)/nz2.

    Although there are several procedures for estimatingquadratic and interaction effects with latent constructs (for areview, see Schumacker and Marcoulides 1998), we chose amethod that produces robust estimates and is suitable fortheoretical models that include both mediated and moder-ated relationships (Cortina, Chen, and Dunlap 2001, pp.35658). Furthermore, to avoid nonessential multicollinear-ity problems, we followed Cohen and colleagues (2003, pp.204262) recommendation for standardizing all observedvariables.

    A final concern involves identifying patterns that appearconsistently across contexts. An advantage of the SEMapproach is that it allows for simultaneous estimation of allmodel equations for the retail and airline data using themultiple group option in SEM software, EQS. By constrain-ing parameters to be equal across groups, we obtain a directevaluation of the consistency in the magnitude and directionof estimated coefficients across contexts. As a result, basedon the Lagrange-multiplier (LM) test, coefficients with sig-nificant statistical difference between groups can be sequen-tially released until the further freeing up of constraints failsto enhance model fit.

    Common Method and Acquiescence Bias

    Because we used a cross-sectional survey, we needed toconsider and control for several sources of bias to reason-ably test the hypotheses. We considered the following twosources: (1) common method bias due to a single instru-ment of data collection and (2) acquiescence bias due to apersons tendency to agree with items regardless of content.Both sources likely inflate common variance and obfuscatedifferential effects. However, they require differentapproaches to control for their effects. To control for com-mon method bias, we followed Lindell and Whitneys(2001) recommendation to include a construct (i.e., cate-gory complexity) that is theoretically unrelated to studyconstructs. The category-complexity construct involves aconsumers perceived complexity in shopping for products/services in a given category (e.g., retail or airline) and doesnot pertain to the specific service provider with whom theconsumer had ongoing relational exchanges.1 We used theindicators of category complexity to identify a common

    2An example of a matched set of items is as follows: (a) The storeemployees treat you with suspicion when you return products for a refund(negative), and (b) The store employees go out of the way to solve con-sumer problems (positive).

    3On the basis of the work of McCallum and Mar (1995), we testedwhether the quadratic terms explained higher variance in the dependentvariables than the interaction terms. The interaction-terms model increasedR2 of loyalty intentions by 3% in the retail and 5% in the airline sample

    method factor whose loadings were constrained to be equalacross all indicators in accord with the work of Lindell andWhitney (2001). To control for acquiescence bias, we fol-lowed Baumgartner and Steenkamps (2001) recommenda-tion to identify a matched set of positively and negativelyworded items. We identified six items in the retail sampleand two items in the airline sample,2 and we computed adifference score between the positively and negativelyworded item for each set/individual per Baumgartner andSteenkamps guideline. Finally, we included commonmethod and acquiescence latent factors in each of the struc-tural equations estimated to partial out the effects of a com-mon instrument and individual heterogeneity due toresponse style bias (Equations 13).

    RESULTS

    We first examined psychometric properties by estimatinga multigroup confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) model thatinvolves all four study constructs as well as the commonmethod and acquiescence bias latent constructs for the air-line and retail data. This model fits the data reasonably wellwith the following fit statistics: 2 = 1276.27, degrees offreedom (d.f.) = 491; comparative fit index (CFI) = .91;normed fit index (NFI) = .86; nonnormed fit index(NNFI) = .88; and root mean square error of approximation(RMSEA) = .070 (90% confidence interval [CI]: .065 to.075). Without exception, each item loads on its hypothe-sized factor with large, significant loadings. With just oneexception, the measurement parameters achieve invarianceacross the two contexts (LM test p values > .10). Each con-struct has estimated reliabilities that exceed .85 and vari-ance extracted that exceeds .70, which indicates convergentvalidity (Fornell and Larcker 1981). Without exception,each construct extracts variance that is larger than the high-est variance it shares with any other construct, thus provid-ing support for discriminant validity. Finally, reliabilities ofquadratic and interaction terms range from .79 to .93 andfrom .81 to .92, respectively. Overall, the study constructsevidence acceptable reliability and convergent and discrim-inant validity.

    Overall Assessment

    To estimate whether the inclusion of quadratic and inter-action effects is empirically meaningful, we followed Gan-zachs (1997) hierarchical procedure. We entered the quad-ratic latent variables in a linear model, followed by theinteraction latent variables. Incremental inclusion of quad-ratic variables in a model with only linear terms yields asignificant improvement (2 = 42.9, d.f. = 12, p < .01).Likewise, the inclusion of interaction terms in a model withboth linear and quadratic terms yields a significantimprovement (2 = 18.29, d.f. = 8, p < .05). Thus, itappears that the proposed curvilinear model along with theinteraction terms is appropriate for understanding loyaltymechanisms.3 To identify cross-context consistency, we

  • Consumer Loyalty in Relational Exchanges 103

    compared with the main-effects model, whereas quadratic terms increasedR2 by 7% and 5%, respectively.

    included additional constraints in the estimated model withlinear, quadratic, and interaction terms. Only nonsignificantconstraints were retained in accordance with the LM test.Finally, as we note in Table 2, to control for extraneoussources of variance, we estimated three additional modelsby sequentially including the common method (secondadjusted model) bias, the acquiescence bias (third adjustedmodel), and the significant demographic variables (fourthadjusted model). The fit statistics for the final model wereas follows: 2 = 1449.36, d.f. = 557; CFI = .90; NFI = .85;NNFI = .86; and RMSEA = .07 (90% CI: .066 to .075).Next, we interpret the estimated coefficients and testhypotheses.

    Test of Hypotheses

    The final model provides meaningful explanation of thedependent variables, with R2 values ranging from .43 to .51for loyalty intentions, from .42 to .70 for relational value,and from .52 to .64 for trust. The final adjusted model inTable 2 indicates that satisfaction has a positive linear effecton loyalty intentions in both service contexts, but this effectis not significant (B = .08, p > .10). In addition, the quad-ratic effect of satisfaction is supported only in the retailsample but not in the airline sample (B = .33, p < .05; B =.09, p > .10, respectively). This provides partial support forH1. As H2 predicts, trust has a positive, significant, and con-sistent main effect (B = .31, p < .05) and a positive and con-sistent quadratic effect (B = .14, p < .05) on loyalty inten-tions across the service contexts. This strongly supports H2.Finally, value has a positive and significant main effect (B =.33, p < .05) and a significant, negative quadratic effect (B =

    Table 2ESTIMATED COEFFICIENTS FOR THE CURVILINEAR RELATIONSHIPS AMONG TRANSACTIONAL SATISFACTION, RELATIONAL

    TRUST, RELATIONAL VALUE, AND LOYALTY INTENTIONS AFTER ACCOUNTING FOR COMMON METHOD, INDIVIDUAL RESPONSE

    STYLE, AND MEASUREMENT ERRORa,b

    Constructs Retail Data Airline Data

    Dependent Independent Coeff1c Coeff2c Coeff3c Coeff4c Coeff1c Coeff2c Coeff3c Coeff4c

    TrustSatisfaction .52 .58 .31 .30 .52 .58 .27 .27Satisfaction2 .09 .10 .04 .06 .09 .10 .15 .15

    Common method .16 .37 .37 .06 .12 .11Aquiescence .53 .52 .41 .42

    Relational ValueSatisfaction .20 .23 .13 .12 .20 .23 .34 .35

    Trust .32 .19 .29 .38 .50 .43 .48 .47Satisfaction2 .19 .18 .17 .16 .09 .09 .17 .16

    Trust2 .16 .12 .29 .23 .16 .12 .16 .15Trust satisfaction .29 .24 .39 .36 .29 .24 .39 .36Common method .09 .04 .08 .06 .13 .14

    Aquiescence .17 .13 .22 .21

    Loyalty IntentionsSatisfaction .08 .19 .08 .08 .08 .19 .08 .08

    Trust .28 .28 .29 .31 .29 .28 .29 .31Value .42 .36 .35 .33 .42 .36 .35 .33

    Satisfaction2 .36 .38 .33 .33 .11 .13 .09 .09Trust2 .14 .15 .15 .14 .14 .15 .15 .14Value2 .11 .13 .10 .12 .26 .26 .25 .29

    Value trust .04 .02 .04 .01 .04 .02 .04 .01Value satisfaction .22 .22 .21 .20 .22 .22 .21 .20Common method .04 .10 .09 .07 .10 .09

    Aquiescence .05 .05 .09 .06

    Overall Fit Indices Unadjusted Model Adjusted Model 1 Adjusted Model 2 Adjusted Model 3

    2 (d.f.) 1078.20 (341) 1295.03 (450) 1328.57 (484) 1449.36 (557)NFI .87 .86 .85 .85NNFI .88 .88 .88 .86CFI .90 .90 .90 .90SRMRd .08 .08 .09 .09RMSEA (90% CI) .08 (.076.087) .076 (.071.080) .073 (.068.078) .070 (.066.075)

    aThe reported coefficients are unstandardized estimates from the maximum likelihood method. Results from four separate estimations are included: a firstunadjusted model in which the common method, acquiescence bias, and demographics were not included; a second adjusted model in which only commonmethod was included; a third adjusted model in which both common method and acquiescence bias factors were included; and a fourth adjusted model inwhich significant demographic variables were also included in the third adjusted model (sex, marital status, age, and household size).

    bThe significant coefficients are in bold. Coefficients that differ across the retail and airline context are in italics.cThe Coeff1, Coeff2, Coeff3, and Coeff4 refer to estimated coefficients from the first unadjusted, second adjusted, third adjusted, and fourth fully

    adjusted models, respectively.dSRMR = standardized root mean-square residual.

  • 104 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2005

    4Competing theoretical models (i.e., ACSI studies) propose the media-tion effect of satisfaction on the valueloyalty relationship. Therefore, wetested the valuetrustsatisfactionloyalty model using Lee and Hersh-bergers (1990) and McCallum and colleagues (1993) procedures. We findempirical evidence for the superiority of our proposed model based oninformation-based indices (Akaike information criterion and consistentAkaike information criterion) and other heuristics (e.g. NFI). Notably, wefind no differences between the competing models for the size and signifi-cance of the estimated linear, quadratic, and interaction coefficients in theloyalty equation.

    .12, p < .05, for the retail; B = .29 for the airline context).This partially supports H3. With regard to interactions, onlythe interaction effect involving satisfaction and value onloyalty intentions is significant, and this effect is consistentacross the service contexts (B = .20, p < .01).

    Although no mediation effects were hypothesized, wetested for the partial mediated effect of trust on thesatisfactionloyalty intentions relationship as Baron andKenny (1986) recommend. Our results show that both link-ages involved in the mediation effect, satisfactiontrust andtrustloyalty, are significant. Notably, satisfaction has a sig-nificant, positive linear effect on trust (Bretail = .30; Bairline =.27, p < .01) and a significant and negative quadratic effect(Bretail = .06, p < .05; Bairline = .15, p < .01). Furthermore,as H2 predicts, trust has a significant and positive effect onloyalty. In addition, the elimination of mediating pathwaysof trust yields a change in 2 of 50.17 (d.f. = 4, p < .01),thus providing support for the partial mediation effects oftrust.

    Likewise our results provide support for the partial medi-ation effect of value on the satisfactionloyalty intentionslink. The main effect of satisfaction on value is positive andsignificant (Bretail = .12, p < .05; Bairline = .35, p < .01), andits quadratic effect on value is negative and significant (B =.16, p < .01). In addition, value has a significant effect onloyalty (B = .33, p < .01). To test this statistically, we esti-mated a nested model without the pathway mediated byvalue. These mediating pathways yield a significant 2change of 18.21 (d.f. = 4, p < .01), supporting a mediationeffect of value.4

    To examine the mediation of value in the trustloyaltyrelationship, we note that trust has a significant and positivelinear effect on value (Bretail = .38; Bairline = .47, p < .01).Furthermore, the quadratic effect of trust on value is signif-icant but negative in the retail data (B = .23, p < .01) but isnonsignificant in the airline data (B = .15, p < .10).Because trust has a direct, positive, and significant lineareffect on loyalty intentions as well, our results suggest thattrust has a total effect on loyalty of .44 and .47 in the retailand airline contexts, respectively, that is composed of twoeffects: (1) a direct, positive effect of .31 and (2) a mediatedeffect through values of .12 and .15, respectively. To testthis mediated effect statistically, we estimated a nestedmodel by eliminating the mediating pathway and obtained a2 of 31.24 (d.f. = 4, p < .01).

    DISCUSSION

    This study proposes and empirically examines the curvi-linearities involving the simultaneous influence of multipledeterminants of loyalty intentions for ongoing relationalexchanges. Theoretically, this study departs from most of

    the previous work by providing a theory-based frameworkfor understanding the distinct and differential curvilineareffects of satisfaction, trust, and value on loyalty intentions.Nevertheless, our point of departure is not at anticipatingthe curvilinear effects per se. Both researchers and practi-tioners have offered conjectures and suggestions and recog-nize the need to examine such effects. Our departure is indrawing from need and motivation theories of loyalty deter-minants to synthesize systematically these conjectures andsuggestions to propose testable hypotheses for differentialcurvilinear effects. Moreover, using data from two differentservice contexts, we provide evidence for curvilinear effectsof each antecedent on loyalty intentions. Before discussingthe evidence and its complications, we highlight somelimitations.

    Limitations

    For a balanced appreciation of our findings, we mustconsider several limitations. First, this study has limitedgeneralizability because of the regional sampling plan weused. Moreover, although we used multiple industry con-texts to enhance validity, we recognize that the sample sizefor the airline context is smaller than that for retail clothing.This occurred mainly because of a lower qualifying rate forthe former context. Further research is needed to test thegeneralizability of our conclusions in other industry con-texts. Second, because of the cross-sectional nature of thestudy, the self-report data, and several other factorsincluding common method variance, spurious causeeffectinferences, and problems of self-generated validitythereported findings are biased. A longitudinal design isneeded for valid causeeffect inferences. In this sense, ourevidence is tentative. Third, several procedures exist foraccounting for measurement error in quadratic terms inSEM. In this study, we used one such approach, the 2SIapproach, which, though superior to ordinary least squaresregression, has its own limitations. Fourth, our analysisdoes not include individual dispositional measures that maymoderate the proposed relationships or introduce unmod-eled heterogeneity. Fifth, the operationalization of the valueconstruct mainly captures the economic dimension of theexchange relationship. Further research might find it usefulto enhance the breadth of the value construct. Likewise, weused a transaction-specific conceptualization of the satisfac-tion construct, but we recognize that other conceptualiza-tions at the overall or global level are plausible. Sixth,beyond satisfaction, trust, and value mechanisms, other loy-alty mechanisms are plausible and need to be considered.Despite these recognized limitations, our results yieldinsights into the relative influence of different determinantsand curvilinear mechanisms. We discuss each in turn.

    Relative Influence of Loyalty Determinants

    The findings of our study provide evidence into the rela-tive curvilinear effects of satisfaction, trust, and value onloyalty intentions. Consumers judgments of relational trustand value emerge as the determinants with strong, signifi-cant, and consistent direct linear-term effects on loyaltyintentions (B = .31 and .33, respectively, p < .01) combinedwith significant but opposite quadratic effects (B = .14 and.12/.29, respectively, p < .05). With regard to transac-tional satisfaction, we obtained a weak but positive linear

  • Consumer Loyalty in Relational Exchanges 105

    5The predicted value of loyalty intentions is based on estimated coeffi-cients from the fourth adjusted model in Table 2. The three-dimensionalgraphs are partial plots over the observed domains of the two independentvariables included; the third independent variable is assumed to be heldconstant at its average value.

    effect on loyalty (B = .08) and an opposite but significantquadratic effect (for retail/airline, B = .33/.09, p < .01).Because the estimated effects are akin to partial regressioncoefficients, our results suggest that trust and value haveindependent, direct effects on loyalty intentions after con-trolling for satisfaction. Thus, we have sufficient evidenceto indicate that it is unlikely that focusing on any singledeterminant, regardless of the apparently compelling andvigorous defense of its proponents, can secure loyalty inten-tions. Reality is just more complex. To maintain andenhance consumer loyalty, managers must simultaneouslyfocus on and optimize both relational trust and value.

    It would be unfortunate, and certainly inappropriate, ifour results were taken to imply that transactional satisfac-tion is not important in loyalty judgments. Rather, ourresults establish that transactional satisfaction is a keydriver of consumer trust in the service provider (B = .30/.27, p < .01) and continues to have residual direct effects onvalue even after the effect of trust is partialled out (B = .12/.35, p < .05). Notably, considering the total effects on valueand loyalty intentions, satisfaction has a substantial influ-ence, with respective effect coefficients exceeding .35. Aswe noted previously, much of this total effect is mediatedthrough trust and value. Moreover, its quadratic effect onloyalty intentions is significant and consistent with theoreti-cal expectations. Finally, satisfaction has positive, signifi-cant, and consistent interaction effects on value and loyaltyintentions when it is considered jointly with trust and value,respectively. In other words, satisfaction has both direct andindirect effects on loyalty that are statistically significant,theoretically meaningful, and nontrivial. As such, the roleof transactional satisfaction on loyalty cannot beunderestimated.

    The Triadic Mechanisms of Satisfaction, Trust, and Value

    To highlight the simultaneity in curvilinear effects of loy-alty determinants, Figure 2 plots the predicted loyalty inten-tions against the observed scores of satisfaction, trust, andvalue separately for the retail and airline data.5 Figure 2,Panel A, reveals that in the retail context, satisfaction andtrust are associated with opposite influences on loyaltyintentions. Whereas satisfaction depicts a significantdecreasing rate of return, trust is associated with an increas-ing rate-of-return influence on loyalty intentions. The influ-ence of trust conforms to its hypothesized motivator effect,and the influence of satisfaction conforms to its positedhygiene effect. Notably, the incrementally decreasing effectof satisfaction is largely subdued in the airline context, andthe incremental increases in trust are associated with dispro-portionately higher loyalty intentions relative to the retailcontext (Figure 2, Panel D). This effect is mainly becausethe hygiene effect of satisfaction indicated by the quadraticeffect is threefold larger in magnitude in the retail contextthan in the airline context (in absolute value). Thus,whereas our data confirm that satisfaction and trust yield

    differential effects on loyalty intentions in accord with theirposited hygiene and motivator roles, respectively, the moti-vator role of trust is dominant in the airline context.

    Likewise, similar patterns for the influence of trust andvalue on loyalty intentions are evident in Figure 2, Panels Band E. In both contexts, value is associated with an incre-mentally decreasing effect, whereas trust depicts an incre-mentally increasing effect. Furthermore, because thehygiene effect of value is more than twofold stronger in theairline context, the motivator effect of trust on loyalty inten-tions is disproportionately higher in the retail context. Withregard to value, our results are inconsistent with the bivalenthypothesis. Depending on whether theory or data are givenpreference, there are two potential explanations. Theo-retically, the value construct we used is operationalizedmore closely with economic aspects of the exchange. Forrelational exchanges, it may be useful to consider the socialdimensions of benefits provided and costs incurred. A morecomprehensive operationalization of the value constructmay confirm its bivalent role. Alternatively, the consistentevidence for the hygiene role of value may imply that thecalculus of benefits and costs in relational exchanges doesnot rise to a level to fulfill the higher-order expectations ofconsumers. Our data cannot sort through these competingexplanations.

    Finally, Panels C and F in Figure 2 depict the simultane-ous effect of two hygiene factors, satisfaction and value, onloyalty intentions. Because of a significant and positiveinteraction influence, the curvilinear effects of thesehygiene factors are distinctive. Providing greater value off-sets the incrementally decreasing effect of satisfaction onloyalty intentions, and vice versa. Thus, if a firm uses thesatisfaction or value mechanism to retain consumer loyalty,it is essential that increases in satisfaction are matched withincreases in value. Otherwise, investments in the satisfac-tion or value mechanism are unlikely to be productive. Notethat loyalty intentions decrease with increasing satisfactionwhen value remains low. This might explain why some sat-isfied consumers defect (Jones and Sasser 1995).

    MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUDINGNOTES

    For too long, managerial practice has emphasized simpleand singular factors and mechanisms in its search for theinstrument to help maintain and enhance consumer loyalty.Within our studys validity boundaries, we can confirm thatsearches guided by simplicity and singularity are probablyunproductive. The empirical processes, as we know them,conform to a worldview that is complex and curvilinear.Ensuring satisfaction in individual transactions and positiverelational value appears consistently as hygiene factors inloyalty mechanisms. Without fulfillment of these essentiallower-order exchange needs, managers are unlikely tomaintain the loyalty of a consumer base. Beyond this essen-tial fulfillment, it appears more rewarding to invest inefforts to enhance trust mechanisms that allow fulfillmentof higher-order, motivator needs in relational exchanges.Further complexities emerge because of the interrelation-ships among the loyalty determinants. Satisfaction affectstrust and value judgments, and trust plays a direct role inshaping consumers value evaluations. In these complexi-ties, the hygiene role of satisfaction and value and the moti-

  • 106 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2005

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  • Consumer Loyalty in Relational Exchanges 107

    vator role of trust remain consistently compelling. Man-agers are likely to have the urge to sort through our resultsto address the bottom-line question, Which loyalty determi-nant is most important? Our response is that they all are.Balancing investments in loyalty determinants to match thetarget segment and relational context is a crucial issue thatdeserves careful analysis. Although this analysis is neededfor each market situation, we can extend some broad guide-lines from our work. Consider a manager who faces two tar-get segments, one that is generally loyal to the product orservice offered and one that occasionally uses the productor service offered but does not evidence strong loyalty. Inthis context, our results suggest that managers should investin trust-building factors for the first segment while holdingtheir current investments in satisfaction and value; for thesecond segment, managers should fine-tune their satisfac-tion and value investments without necessarily investingadditional resources in trust-building activities. Thoughtful,rigorous analysis and careful tracking of consumer loyaltymechanisms can oil the engine of relationship marketing.Here, theory and method do not stand apart; they blendtogether to reveal clear and compelling, albeit complex andcurvilinear, insights.

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