Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bove and Mitzifiris on Openness

In their article, Personality traits and the process of store loyalty in a transactional prone context, Bove and Mitzifiris (2007, p 507) give a quick and informative review of customer loyalty and the value it has to the marketing efforts of an organization. Customer loyalty results in better financial performance, forgiveness of service failures, and less price fighting. They assert that retailers must understand their customer’s loyalty orientation in the challenging business environment of today. The main topic of their article is an empirical study of how customer personality traits affect loyalty.

A well established personality profiling framework, the Five Factor Model (FFM) is used in deriving an answer to the key question, (p 508) “How can a retailer determine which customers have a relational orientation?” Their evaluation is how the FFM personality traits impact trust, commitment and satisfaction and in turn how these three factors affect loyalty with a fast food retailer.

This paper gave a good overview of the Five Factor Model, an important model for any discipline dealing with personality, including marketing. It also gave a quick summary of the literature related to customer loyalty – its benefits and the factors that affect it (p 509), trust, commitment and satisfaction. They also describe the NEO-PI measurement instrument (survey) that can be used for personality classification (p 510).

Bove and Mitzifiris posited fourteen hypotheses (p 509) about the relationship between personality traits and the three antecedents of trust, commitment and satisfaction, as well as between these antecedents and loyalty. The first method used was a literature review to establish the link between trust, commitment and satisfaction with loyalty. Previous empirical work had established these relationships so they built on that foundation.

They next designed a survey to use for measuring customer personality, the NEO-PI measures, and tailored it to their intended investigation. They used a Likert scale for each question’s response 1 to 5, strongly disagree to strongly agree. Rather than use a random sample of fast food retailers, they selected two with intent. They omitted one of the Five Factor Model dimensions, openness from the survey design.

They found (p 512, 514) that the relationship between the antecedents and the behavior aspect of loyalty is not explanatory or predictive. Additionally, of the four Five Factor Model personality traits they tested, only emotional stability had a material relationship to the antecedents, in this case trust (p 512). On the other hand, their model fared better with the attitude aspects of loyalty (p 515). Trust, commitment and satisfaction do have a positive correlation with attitudinal loyalty in fast food retailing.

I do think Bove and Mitzifiris (p 509) were hasty in the exclusion of the openness factor in the personality profile. They assert that there is no research evidence “to support an association between openness to experience and relation orientation.” However, Barbanelli, et al (1997) establish the link between openness and individuation and there is literature showing the link between individuation and commitment or even loyalty directly. For example, see Gnaulati and Heine (2001) or Chan and Misra(1990).

It also seems intuitively obvious that the personality factor of openness, which incorporates need for variety, would have an affect on commitment, especially in food retailing. Because of this, I would change the hypotheses model (p 510) constructed by Bove and Mitzifiris as noted by red coloration in the following diagram:

Despite this misgiving about openness, their investigation was able to make two significant conclusions. First, the pathway to loyalty proposed by Garbarino and Johnson for a theatre company may not be readily generalizable. Second, regarding the attitude towards the store (as opposed to buying behavior), trust, commitment and satisfaction do seem to be generalizable.

Barbaranelli, C, and G Caprara and C Maslach (1997). Individuation and the Five Factor Model of Personality Traits. Retrieved on August 27, 2008 from EBSCOHOST.

Bove, Liliana and Betty Mitzifiris (2007). Personality traits and the process of store loyalty in a transactional prone context. Journal of Services Marekting. Retrieved on August 26, 2008 from EBSCOHOST.

Chan, K and S Misra (1990). Characteristics of the Opinion Leader: A New Dimension. Journal of Advertising. Retrieved on August 27, 2008 from EBSCOHOST.

Gnaulati, E and B Heine (January 2001) Separation-Individuation in Late Adolescence: An Investigation of Gender and Ethnic Differences. Journal of Psychology. Retrieved on August 27, 2008 from EBSCOHOST.

Podsakoff, P, and S. MacKenzie, J. Lee, and N. Podsakoff (2003). Common Method Biases in Behavioral Research: A Critical Review of the Literature and Recommended Remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology. Retrieved on August 27, 2008 from

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