In the quest for sustained success in a marketplace characterized by product proliferation, communication clutter, and buyer disenchantment, more and more companies are attempting to build deep, long-term relationships with their consumers. However, consumers’ loyalty is extremely easy to have the vacillation today. In order to maintain consumers, the best method is to establish high consumers’ shift barrier: let consumers have the identification to these companies and become champions of these companies and their products. When a company’s product, service, endorsers, and the company whole structure about a consumers’ image, the final cognition identity decided whether consumers are willing to have identification to the company. In this study, we try to determine why and under what conditions consumers enter into strong relationships with certain companies. Drawing on theories of social identity and organizational identification, we propose that strong consumer-company relationships often result from consumers’ identification with those companies, which helps them satisfy self-definitional needs. We elaborate on the nature of consumer-company identification that offers propositions regarding the key determinants of such identification in the marketplace, including the company identity.
This study is a causal research. In order to increase the generalizability of the results, the study is tested across many companies of the different sales domain, involving three companies, and we choose Working-House, NIKE, and McDonald’s as the studied companies. Therefore, this study focuses on the university students who more often expend at these stores (i.e., Working-House, NIKE, and McDonald’s), and receive information about company, commodity, etc. in daily life easier as the participants. We distribute 407 questionnaires to the students in college of business at Tamkang University. This study used 343 received questionnaires, and various statistical methods, including Factor Analysis, Principal Components Analysis, and Regression Analysis, are used to analyze the collected information.
The result shows that: First, consumers’ evaluations of a company’s identity attractiveness are based on their perceptions of that identity. In other words, a company’s identity attractiveness depends on how similar it is to consumers’ own identity, its distinctiveness in traits consumers’ value, and its prestige. Identity attractiveness was found to be significantly positively associated with identity similarity, identity distinctiveness, and identity prestige. Second, we also propose that the link between consumers’ perceptions of a company identity and their reactions to it depends on the extent to which they know and trust the identity. When the perceived trustworthiness of a company identity moderated the relationship between consumers’ identity-related judgments and their evaluation of its overall attractiveness, only the relationship between identity distinctiveness and identity attractiveness transformed significantly positive into significantly negative; the others relationships were not significantly affected. Third, consumer-company identification was found to be significantly positively associated with identity attractiveness; that is the greater the attractiveness of the perceived identity of a company, and the stronger is a consumer’s identification with it.
Finally, we suggest that if consumer-company identification is deemed desirable, companies must articulate and communicate their identities clearly, coherently, and in a persuasive manner; companies also must devote significant resources to identification management.