Results suggested a positive effect of word-of-mouth communication on brand credibility and self-brand connections.
Shubhomoy Banerjee, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Business School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India.
S. Sreejesh, Marketing Management Area, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, Kozhikode, India.
The study’s primary purpose is to establish the direct and indirect roles of word-of-mouth communication (WOM) in initiating and maintaining consumer loyalty in the bottom of pyramid (BOP) markets in the Indian context. In addition, the study seeks to evaluate the conditions (viz. extent of media usage, brand distribution intensity and brand social connections) under which WOM leads to the initiation and maintenance of consumer brand loyalty.
The study hypotheses were formulated following the social identity theory. Later, a questionnaire-based survey was conducted among 898 rural BOP consumers. Structural equation modelling technique was applied to test the study hypotheses.
Results suggested a positive effect of WOM on brand credibility and self-brand connections-indicative of the initiation of strong cognitive and affective relationships respectively. Brand credibility and self-brand connections also mediated the paths between WOM and brand loyalty-indicative of the maintenance and continuation of strong affect-laden relationships. These indirect relationships were moderated by the extent of media usage, brand distribution intensity and brand social connections.
This is among the first studies that holistically evaluate the role of WOM in developing customer loyalty to rural BOP consumers against the backdrop of the systemic deficiencies in these markets.
Published in: International Journal of Emerging Markets
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