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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Satisfied yet disloyal : a portrait of fickle consumers Ok, Ekin


In today’s marketplace where consumers have an abundance of options for most consumer services, many sources claim that consumer disloyalty is becoming the new norm. Although an extensive literature examines what marketers can do to generate a committed customer base, a possibility that has not been examined thoroughly by previous research is that certain consumers may be dispositionally less likely to become committed customers as their loyalties are harder to earn and sustain. Despite its relevance to consumer theory, there is little empirical research on the personality traits that may underlie the propensity for consumers to develop fleeting, or unstable relationships with service providers. To help address this gap, this dissertation proposes a new construct termed ‘consumer fickleness’, which captures the generalized tendency to remain uncommitted to a service provider and display a lack of consistency in patronage. Unlike many other consumer-brand relationship constructs that describe a consumer’s bond with a single specific brand (e.g., brand attachment, brand love), consumer fickleness is conceptualized as a generalized individual difference that affects a consumer’s stance toward all service providers across different contexts. A series of studies were conducted to develop a psychometrically reliable and valid instrument to measure this tendency, resulting in a 12-item scale with three factors where each factor reflects a distinct motivator of fickle consumer behaviour. After examining the convergent and discriminant validity of the Consumer Fickleness Scale (CFS), seven studies demonstrated its consumption-related consequences including frequent switching, loyalty card ownership, seeking alternatives despite being satisfied, preference for shorter-term subscriptions, and willingness to pay a price premium for flexible cancellation. An additional two studies showed that the CFS also predicted theoretically relevant outcomes in non-consumption domains such as organizational commitment and commitment to romantic partners. As a meaningful individual difference construct, consumer fickleness carries substantial managerial implications for marketers and service providers. Measuring fickleness enables managers to forecast which consumers are most or least likely to respond to marketers’ efforts to cultivate loyalty. The three distinct motivators underlying the measure also provide a richer segmentation opportunity that allows marketers to develop more targeted and efficient customer acquisition and retention strategies.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International