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DISSERTATION

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DISSERTATIONDISS

? Copyright by Son K. Lam, 2009

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    CUSTOMER-BRAND IDENTIFICATION AS A SUSTAINABLE COMPETITIVE

    ADVANTAGE: A MULTINATIONAL AND LONGITUDINAL EXAMINATION

    A Dissertation

    Presented to

    the Faculty of the C.T. Bauer College of Business

    University of Houston

    In Partial Fulfillment

    Of the Requirements for the Degree

    Doctor of Philosophy

    by

    Son K. Lam

    June, 2009

CUSTOMER-BRAND IDENTIFICATION AS A SUSTAINABLE COMPETITIVE

    ADVANTAGE: A MULTINATIONAL AND LONGITUDINAL EXAMINATION

    APPROVED:

     __________________________________________

     Michael Ahearne, Professor of Marketing

     Chairperson of Committee

     __________________________________________

     Edward Blair, Professor of Marketing

     __________________________________________

     Ye Hu, Assistant Professor of Marketing

     __________________________________________

     Robert Keller, Professor of Management

    ________________________________________________ Arthur D. Warga, Dean

    C. T. Bauer College of Business

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    My sincerest gratitude to my dissertation committee chairman, Mike Ahearne.

    My special thanks to the committee members, Ed Blair, Ye Hu, and Robert Keller, and to the Ph.D. Coordinator, Singin’ Jimmy. The generous support by Niels Schillewaert is hereby acknowledged.

     To my family who has always loved me and provided me with tremendous support.

    To my dad.

    iii

CUSTOMER-BRAND IDENTIFICATION AS A SUSTAINABLE COMPETITIVE

ADVANTAGE: A MULTINATIONAL AND LONGITUDINAL EXAMINATION

Abstract

    Previous marketing research has been trying to identify a stronger and more enduring predictor of brand loyalty than customer satisfaction in competitive markets. Perceived value, the difference between benefits and costs, appears to be the perfect candidate. Does it? Drawing from the literature on customer-company identification and brand health, this two-essay dissertation proposes that customer-brand identification (CBI), defined as the customer’s perception, emotional significance, and value of sharing the same self-definitional attributes with a brand, constitutes a sustainable competitive advantage. Compared with perceived value, CBI is expected to be more predictive and enduring in explaining brand health, both current health under normal market conditions and brand resistance under abnormal circumstances such as competitive attacks.

    Essay 1 examines the relative importance of CBI vis-à-vis perceived value as the economic driver in predicting customer repurchase intention and customer forgiveness in a cross-sectional setting. Hierarchical linear modeling using a data set of 6,000 consumers from 15 countries shows that cross-sectionally, perceived value is a stronger driver of customer loyalty intention while CBI is more predictive of customer forgiveness. Furthermore, these relationships are generally non-linear, with increasing returns. Surprisingly, national culture interacts more with CBI than with perceived value in predicting customer behavior. Essay 2 complements the first essay by investigating why it is important to build CBI in a competitive, disruptive market setting using a longitudinal design. Results show that when a market is disrupted by an innovative new entrant, CBI saliency serves as a more enduring predictor of switching behavior, an important indicator of customer behavioral loyalty that underlies both the current well-being of a brand and all measures of brand resistance.

    v

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Abstract v

    Table of Contents vi

    List of Tables ix

    List of Figures x

    Prologue 1

    Consequences of Customer-Brand Identification and Perceived Value: A Multinational Examination

     Introduction 7

     Customer-Brand Identification 10

     Social Identity Theory, Identity Theory and Their Marketing

     Applications 11

     Defining Customer-Brand Identification 13

     Conceptual Framework and Hypotheses 14

     Curvilinear Effects of CBI on Customer Behaviors 14

     Curvilinear Effects of Perceived Value on Customer Behavior 17

     Relative Importance of CBI and Perceived Value in Predicting

     Customer Behavior 19

     The Moderating Role of National Culture 20

     Method 24

     Sample 24

     Measures 26

     Analytical Strategy 27

    vi

     Results 29

     General Discussion 31

     Discussion of Findings and Theoretical Contribution 31

     Managerial Implications 34

     Limitations and Future Research 37

     References 40

     Appendix 1.A Construct Measures 50

     Appendix 1.B Analytical Notes 52 Customer-Brand Identification as a Sustainable Competitive Advantage:

    A Longitudinal Examination

    6 Introduction 5

     Customer-Brand Identification 59

     Conceptual Framework and Predictions 62

     Cross-sectional Effects 62

     Longitudinal Effects 64

     Method 66

     Sample 66

     Measures 67

     Model Specification 69

     Results 72

     General Discussion 73

     Discussion of Findings and Theoretical Implications 74

     Managerial Implications 75

    vii

     Limitations and Future Research 76

     References 81

     Appendix 2.A. General Discrete-Time Hazard Model 86

     Appendix 2.B. Construct Measures 88

    viii

    LIST OF TABLES

Table 1.1: Means, Standard Deviations, and Intercorrelation Matrix 47

    Table 1.2: Hierarchical Linear Modeling Results 48

    8 Table 2.1: Descriptive Statistics 7

    Table 2.2: Results of Discrete-Time Hazard Models 79

    ix

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