Does buyer-seller similarity affect buyer satisfaction with the seller firm?
With the increased reliance on diverse markets in multi-cultural contexts, the role that similarity can play in the relationship between a salesperson and a buyer is receiving increased attention. Similarity is regarded as the cornerstone of positive communications, and salespeople rely on the trust that can be created by this recognition of likeness. However, there are different types of similarity, and not all have an equal bearing on the salesperson-buyer relationship. In this study, we examine similarity in appearance, similarity in lifestyle, and similarity in status. Most studies go no further than examining the effect of similarity on a buyer’s satisfaction with a salesperson, and to date there appear to be few studies relating to the effect of similarity on satisfaction with a firm. This study examines the effect of similarity on a buyer’s sense of satisfaction with a firm represented by a salesperson in the banking context. The results of the study show that appearance similarity and status similarity have a significant effect on the salesperson-buyer relationship, whereas lifestyle similarity has no effect. The buyer’s satisfaction with a salesperson is found to mediate the relationship between similarity in appearance and the buyer’s satisfaction with a firm. In this paper, we discuss these findings and look at their implications for both research and practice. Findings of the study are particularly important because of New Zealand’s increasing interaction with Asia and its people, which has transformed New Zealand to become a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country.