Consumer Satisfaction Should Be Achieved At Any Cost - Online Article

Introduction

The development of protected designation of origin (PDO) for food products has been one of the most interesting phenomena in terms of extent and implications for the agro-marketing. In fact, PDO labels are a form of differentiating agri-food products in local markets.

The image of the region of origin and the specific product characteristics create a unique identity for food products bringing in this way an added value . Thus, many food products have been traditionally associated with and named for production in a particular geographic area . Recently, many producers have successfully communicated the quality of their products to the market by emphasizing the geographic origin or the production location of critical ingredients found in the product.

For PDO food products, management conditions are regulated by very strict rules with the aim of obtaining high quality products. In addition, the entire process is guaranteed by the regulatory council of the corresponding PDO , since a quality assurance scheme helps to guarantee certain standards in the product physical properties and characteristics.

According to, the PDO is the term used to describe agricultural products or foodstuffs with a strong regional identity, inherent natural and human factors, that are produced, processed and prepared in a particular geographical and environmental area using prescribed methods and techniques that may be unique to that region or specific place.

Based on the consumer evaluation of traditional PDO food products, several researches have analyzed products such as cheese ; meat ; fruits ; vinegar ; olive oil ; and multiproduct analysis.

Regarding the notion of food quality, consider it as a multi-faced concept. Recently, define the food quality as the requirements necessary to satisfy the consumer needs and expectations. In the line, propose how food quality and safety are perceived by consumers, and suggest that these perceptions influence consumer decision-making. Focusing on the case of food products, also examine the relation between the quality expectations and the quality experience, and their implications in the consumer satisfaction and repurchase intention. Besides, authors like and have found a clear relationship between perceived food quality, satisfaction, loyalty and buying intention.

Bearing in mind the previous considerations, the main aim of this paper is to analyze the causal relationships among consumer satisfaction, loyalty and buying intention manifested by Spanish consumers of a PDO food product. To be precise, the food product chosen has been “Olive Oil from Bajo Aragon” with PDO.

Conceptual Framework

Defining consumer satisfaction

Consumer satisfaction is defined as a global evaluation or a state of feelings toward a product or service . Authors like indicate the convenience of identifying three general components in the concept of satisfaction:

  1. The consumer satisfaction is a response (emotional or cognitive).
  2. The response is associated with a particular focus (expectations, product and consumption experience).
  3. The response happens in a particular time (after consumption, after choice and based on an accumulated experience).

Other authors argue the existence of a disagreement centred on the nature of this global concept . Thus, the satisfaction can be described as a cognitive response or as an affective one . The latter perspective has a major weight in previous literature, where the affection plays a principal role in the valuation of the satisfaction

The expectancy/disconfirmation theory ) is one of the most studied models in the literature. This model departs from the theory of the level of adjustment and suggests that consumer satisfaction depends on the comparison between the initial expectations and the real results. In fact, satisfaction arises when expectations are confirmed, whereas dissatisfaction arises when those expectations are not met . Thus, consumer satisfaction will depend on the difference between the expected quality and the real experienced one . That is, if the perceived quality is major or equal to the awaited one, the client will be satisfied. On the contrary, if the perceived quality is minor to the expected one, the client will remain unsatisfied.

According to , the consumer satisfaction is a summary affective response of varying intensity; with a time-specific point of determination and limited duration; and direct toward focal aspects of product acquisition and/or consumption.

In summary, the consumer satisfaction is a variable widely analyzed in the marketing literature, which has been examined as a consumer cognitive and affective response toward a product/consumption in a buying context. Therefore, to measure satisfaction, in this research we have selected the scales proposed by, in which both types of responses (cognitive/affective) are included.

Defining consumer loyalty

Traditionally, the concept of Loyalty may be understood as the consumer expectations or the predisposition to repurchase a product or service .

According to , the concept of loyalty has been viewed from three different perspectives: the behavioural one, the attitudinal one and the theory of reasoned action (TRA):

  1. According to the behavioural perspective, defined loyalty as the relationship between the “relative attitude” toward an entity and the “patronage behavior”.
  2. Based on the attitudinal perspective, proposed four distinct phases in the development of a customer loyalty toward a product or service: cognitive, affective, conative and action.
  3. Finally, the TRA suggests that consumer behaviour may be influenced by social pressure. In this line, it is possible to explain how consumers repeat purchases of a particular brand although the consumer attitude to that brand was unfavorable.

Authors like explained that the earliest studies of customer loyalty were centred on the behavioural perspective , while recently, most researchers have focused on the attitudinal perspective.

Nevertheless, recent investigations have adopted both dimensions to conceptualize the customer loyalty.

To sum up, we have found different points of view that analyze the concept of consumer loyalty: the behavioural perspective and the attitudinal one. In this paper, we consider both dimensions in order to measure the degree of loyalty toward food products and therefore, we have adapted a measurement scale based on the ones proposed.

Defining buying intention

Traditionally, the concept of buying intention has received special attention in marketing literature . The buying intention toward a product depends on the attitudes and beliefs to this particular product . Indeed, propose the TRA, which provides a useful framework to analyze the consumer behaviour.

In addition, it is possible to indicate that buying intention is a future projection of consumer behaviour that significantly helps to form his/her attitudes. If we analyze the basic aspects of the attitudes model , we may state that the attitudes are developed as a result of the combination of three fundamental elements:

  1. Cognitive element. It reflects the knowledge and beliefs of the individual regarding a certain product or service .
  2. Affective element. It arises as a consequence of the individual emotions or feelings toward the product or service.
  3. Conative or behavioural element. It would be the expression of the consumer buying intention .

Nowadays, buying intention reflects the predictable consumer behaviour in the more immediate future buying decisions (e.g. what product or brand is going to buy in the next occasion, etc.). Hence, the attitudes are developed throughout the time due to a learning process and are affected by familiar influences, the social group in which the consumer is involved and the one to which s/he aspires to belong, the received information, the experience and the personality.

In short, the buying intention is an attitudinal conduct pattern of the consumer regarding a future purchase. Since it is an estimated construct, there are several measurement approaches to measure the buying intention. Considering all these approaches, we have developed a measurement scale based on.

Research Hypotheses

According to the objectives of the PDO regulation are: to encourage diversity in agricultural production; to protect product names from misuse and imitation; and to help consumers by giving them information concerning the specific character of products. As a result, the certification obligates a quality control process to oversee the effective implementation of the required production conditions and guarantee quality standards. In fact, a quality assurance scheme guarantees certain standards for a product physical properties and characteristics.

Nowadays, consumers decide to buy food products based on aspects such as the place of origin, climate and know how of a geographical region. All these aspects provide them a greater perception of food quality and safety, guaranty which is guaranteed by the fact that food products are elaborated with rigorous controls of quality established by the regulatory councils of the PDO. In this line, food-processing companies differentiate their food products by means of the PDO/protected geographical indications labels as systems of food quality, to highlight the inimitable attributes in the PDO food products, and obtaining high levels of consumer satisfaction, loyalty and buying intention.

Recently, consumers have increased the demand of PDO food products due to a top quality that provides to them the food safety, the characteristics of production, the sensory properties, the convenience, the availability and the quality-price ratio.

In marketing literature, several researchers have found an influence of consumer satisfaction on loyalty.

In the case of PDO food products, have revealed that the consumer satisfaction has a positive and significant effect on consumer loyalty. With all these arguments and findings, it's possible to understand that the consumer satisfaction increase the levels of loyalty in this kind of food products. In this line, we can suggest our first hypothesis:

H1. Consumer satisfaction with a PDO food product has a positive and significant impact on consumer loyalty.

In addition, the consumer satisfaction has been found to have a direct effect on buying intention . Thus, in the context of food products, several authors have found that the consumer satisfaction has a positive impact on buying intention . Based on these previous findings, it's possible to think that the consumer satisfaction influence on buying intention. Likewise, we propose the following hypothesis:

H2. Consumer satisfaction with a PDO food product has a positive and significant impact on buying intention.

Lastly, and have demostraded that the consumer loyalty has a positive and significant effect on buying intention in food products. In base with these results, it's possible to appreciate that the consumer loyalty increases the levels of buying intention in this kind of PDO food products. Hence, we may propose the following hypothesis:

H3. Consumer loyalty with a PDO food product has a positive and significant impact on buying intention.

To sum up, the conceptual model including these three hypotheses is shown in.

Methodology

A series of actions were carried out to obtain the data necessary to test the hypotheses. Firstly, group dynamics were conducted to have a close idea about the opinions of a small number of consumers and to establish the foundations for developing the scales to quantify the consumer satisfaction, consumer loyalty and buying intention. In order to achieve a better fit, the scales were then presented to various external marketing and PDO food product specialists.

Data were obtained using a structured questionnaire containing closed questions. Respondents were asked to indicate their level of consumption of PDO olive oil as well as their level of agreement or disagreement with a series of statements based on a seven-point Likert scale. Specifically, the data obtained referred to consumer satisfaction, loyalty and buying intentions of PDO “Olive Oil from Bajo Aragon”. Finally, the questionnaire included information on the frequency of PDO olive oil purchase and the respondent socio-demographic characteristics to provide a more detailed view of the consumer profile and buying behaviour in this context of analysis. The sample size, after filtering the questionnaires, was composed by 223 valid cases, representing a sample error of ±6.69 per cent for an infinite population with a confidence level of 95 per cent.

The analytic process carried out to refine the scales was structured in several stages as follows. Firstly, an exploratory analysis was performed to test the reliability and unidimensionality of the sub-scales. The Cronbach's α was used to assess the initial reliability of the scales, providing satisfactory levels in all cases (satisfaction 0.956; loyalty 0.954; buying intention 0.927) so that it was not necessary to eliminate any of the indicators. Similarly, the initial analysis of unidimensionality were satisfactory in all cases, reflecting the existence of a single dimension in each scale without eliminating any indicator. In particular, the variance explained by the different dimensions was: satisfaction 82.42 per cent; loyalty 84.67 per cent and buying intention 73.8 per cent.

Secondly, a confirmatory analysis of dimensionality was carried out by employing the statistical software EQS version 6.1 for Windows. We opted for the Robust Maximum Likelihood method of estimation. This process require to develop a confirmatory model in line with the methodology proposed by , which is based on the three criteria established by . In order to ensure compliance with the weak convergence condition, suggest to analyze the significance of the factorial regression coefficients between the indicators and their corresponding latent variables.

In this process, it was not necessary to eliminate any indicator from the scales. The final scale to measure consumer satisfaction comprise six representative items in relation to the “Olive Oil from Bajo Aragon”– “I am satisfied with the olive oil … ”, “I am satisfied with the person who usually sells the olive oil … ”, “I am satisfied with the store where usually I buy the olive oil … ”, “The olive oil … ensures my pleasure”, “I prefer the olive oil from Bajo Aragon to other varieties”, “My experience with of olive oil … is satisfactory”. Loyalty comprises five items –“It's the olive oil that I most often buy”, “I consider myself a loyal consumer of this olive oil ”, “My purchase frequency other varieties of olive oil is very reduced”, “I usually do not to buy other varieties of olive oil different than this” and “If there were not supply of olive oil from Bajo Aragon, I would ask for it” and buying intention six –“I intend to continue buying the product”, “If a retailer suggests me this olive oil I would buy it”, “If a friend or relative recommended me this olive oil I would buy it”, “My favourable opinion toward this olive oil will lead me to buy it in the future”, “If this olive oil weren't in the store, I wouldn't buy another different one” and “If I can't find it in my usual store, I would look for it in another”.

The third and final step in this process of refinement consisted of an analysis of internal validity, requiring conformance with the properties of reliability, content validity and construct validity . Reliability was satisfactorily tested on the basis of this framework using various analyses, as explained above. In relation to content validity, we have to point out that the exhaustive literature review and the scales refinement by experts ensured a satisfactory result.

Finally, verification of construct validity required testing for convergent validity and discriminant validity in the scales making up each of the scales considered in the study. For the convergent validity, we calculated the composite reliability coefficient as suggested by , as well as the average variance extracted (AVE) coefficient for each of the proposed scales. For the case of composite reliability, all values obtained were 0.65 or greater, exceeding the benchmarks that are suggested as acceptable . In the case of AVE coefficient, all values obtained were 0.5 or greater like suggested.

The correlations of the scales analyzed were calculated in order to establish discriminant validity. The results, shown in , confirm that the various dimensions are significantly correlated, thereby proving discriminant validity. In addition, the discriminant validity of the dimensions was confirmed on the basis of the data reflected in. When the confidence intervals between each pair of dimensions were calculated, the value 1 did not appear in any of the confidence interval . Consequently, all of the dimensions considered in the study measure concepts that are clearly distinct from each other. Discriminatory validity was also confirmed by calculating χ 2 differences between the proposed model and each of the three new models, in order to establish whether they were significantly different . As shown in , the three comparisons indicate that the proposed model is significantly different in each of the new models. Consequently, the discriminatory validity of the scales forming the proposed models is assured.

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Comments

Aniket Rastogi on 2009-03-22 22:54:17 wrote,

5 star consumers should be satisfied with the product then makers hardwork proved to be fruitful

Rajesh Kumar Gupta on 2009-03-22 23:03:12 wrote,

@Aniket Rastogi,
I m completely agreed with u lol.

Shamit Kumar Tomar on 2009-03-22 23:55:42 wrote,

Customer is the king.