An examination of how product involvement affects brand loyalty

Douglas, Nigel
Glynn, Mark
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

David Aaker (1992) suggests that brand loyalty leads to brand equity, which leads to business profitability. Brand loyalty makes a critically valuable contribution to competitive advantage. Marketing costs render it expensive to introduce new customers and loyal customers are less likely to switch brands. High brand loyalty is an asset that lends itself to extension, high market share, high return on investment and ultimately high brand equity (Gounaris & Stathakopoulos, 2004). Understanding the drivers for brand loyalty is the first step to understanding how to influence them and thus increase profitability. The wider body of literature (Iwasaki & Havitz, 1998; LeClerc & Little, 1997; Park 1996) suggests that product involvement, particularly high product involvement is a critical antecedent to brand loyalty. Traylor (1983) and Martin (2004) argue that low involvement products are also significant. Quester and Lim (2003) published a paper that empirically tested the relationship between product involvement and brand loyalty. They hypothesized that high involvement would lead to high brand loyalty and vice versa but their research showed that low involvement products could have high brand loyalty too. Further analysis of the literature shows support for product involvement as an antecedent to brand loyalty but still the nature and scope of this relationship remains uncertain. Therefore this research sets out to replicate and extend Quester and Lim's study. To extend the body of literature this research selected cars and batteries from Mittal's (1989a) predetermined list of product categories to represent high and low involvement products. The research then sourced Kapferer and Laurent's (1985b) seminal Consumer Involvement Profile as a basis for the product involvement scale for the survey. The CIP scale breaks product involvement down to five antecedents; interest, pleasure, sign, risk probability and risk importance. Similarly, Dick and Basu's (1994) work formed the basis of the scales as they related to brand loyalty. Dick and Basu suggest that brand loyalty consists of both behavioural and attitudinal components, which in turn consist of cognitive, affective and co native antecedents. These variables formed the basis of the survey used for empirical testing. Data was collected and analysed using factor and multiple regression analysis. Data analysis returned five factors for product involvement for cars and four for product involvement for batteries where Quester and Lim (2003) only returned four factors for both categories. This research also returned all three factors for cars and two for batteries, suggesting that the subjects of this research were able to discern the subtleties of the antecedents to brand loyalty where Quester and Lim's were not. Finally, the research tested these factors for regression correlations to identify links between pleasure, sign and risk probability and brand loyalty for cars and interest/pleasure, sign, risk probability and risk importance for batteries. The analysis shows that these findings explained more than 53% of the variances for batteries and more than 71% of the variances for cars suggesting that product involvement makes a significant contribution to brand loyalty. While these findings lend support for product involvement as an antecedent to brand loyalty, sign value is the only construct that shows a consistent correlation. Thus there is still an opportunity for more academic research. For marketers the message is clear, sign value or ego involvement shows a clear correlation with brand loyalty. Any attempt to grow brand loyalty must at least acknowledge this issue.

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