Home away from home: What makes consumers support their favorite businesses?

Oct 15, 2013

When a shop is authentic and the workers are friendly, it can feel like a second home for consumers, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"People often feel strongly attached to particular places. Such places typically include their homes, but can also include commercial places such as stores and restaurants," write authors Alain Debenedetti (Université Paris Est – IRG), Harmen Oppewal (Monash University), and Zeynep Arsel (Concordia University). "How do people develop and experience place attachment when the place concerns a commercial setting, where they are just customers, and the place is owned or controlled by someone else?"

Consumers form strong emotional bonds with locations when they experience familiarity. Consumers also value authenticity and personal relationships. "It also helps if it is a place where one can feel safe and secure, protected from not only physical intrusions but also from the aggressions of market forces posed by intrusive staff or aggressive promotional tactics," the authors write. "The place does not have to be an extravagant flagship store. People can build attachments with quite ordinary and even mundane places, as long as the place meets the above criteria of familiarity, and security."

The authors gained these insights from interviews with a sample of French consumers who talked about their experiences with the places they most treasure: cafés, restaurants, department stores, concert halls, and libraries. The final phase of the study focused on patrons of a particular French wine bar.

The authors also found that once consumers bond with a commercial space, they are willing to make efforts or sacrifices to support it. Satisfied customers may pay higher tips, volunteer to help the business, and serve as ambassadors, linking other to the business.

"Consumers treat their special place as a treasured gift and in return want to support the establishment beyond what is expected of them as customers," the authors conclude.

Explore further: How do consumers compare prices? It depends on how powerful they feel

More information: Alain Debenedetti, Harmen Oppewal, and Zeynep Arsel. "Place Attachment in Commercial Settings: A Gift Economy Perspective." Journal of Consumer Research: February 2014.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What makes telenovelas so popular?

Oct 15, 2013

A particular type of consumer enjoys stories with plots, characters, and imagery that allow them to get lost in the narrative, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Recommended for you

Modern population boom traced to pre-industrial roots

2 hours ago

The foundation of the human population explosion, commonly attributed to a sudden surge in industrialization and public health during the 18th and 19th centuries, was actually laid as far back as 2,000 years ...

Researcher looks at the future of higher education

2 hours ago

Most forecasts about the future of higher education have focused on how the institutions themselves will be affected – including the possibility of less demand for classes on campus and fewer tenured faculty members as ...

Now we know why it's so hard to deceive children

3 hours ago

Daily interactions require bargaining, be it for food, money or even making plans. These situations inevitably lead to a conflict of interest as both parties seek to maximise their gains. To deal with them, ...

User comments : 0