Decoding customer-firm relationships: How attachment styles help explain customers' preferences for closeness, repurchase intentions, and changes in relationship breadth

Martin Mende, Ruth Bolton, M J Bitner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many firms strive to create relationships with customers, but not all customers are motivated to build close commercial relationships. This article introduces a theoretical framework that explains how relationshipspecific attachment styles account for customers' distinct preferences for closeness and how both attachment styles and preferences for closeness influence loyalty. The authors test their predictions with survey data from 1199 insurance customers and three years of purchase records for 975 of these customers. They find that attachment styles predict customers' preferences for closeness better than established marketing variables do. Moreover, attachment styles and preferences for closeness influence loyalty intentions and behavior, controlling for established antecedents (e.g., relationship quality). Finally, exploring the underlying process, the authors show that preference for closeness partially mediates the effect of attachment styles on cross-buying behavior. This research provides novel customer segmentation criteria and actionable guidelines that managers can use to improve their ability to tailor relationship marketing activities and more effectively allocate resources to match customer preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-142
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

Keywords

  • Attachment styles
  • Loyalty
  • Relational preferences
  • Relationship marketing
  • Services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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