, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 333-348

Analyzing the commitment-loyalty link in service contexts

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This study addressed the ill-understood issue of how loyalty develops in service patrons. Although many theorists hold commitment to be an essential part of this process, the link between commitment and loyalty has received little empirical attention. To address this void, the study first portrayed commitment’s root tendency to resist changing preference as a function of three antecedent processes. Second, this portrayal formed the basis for developing a psychometrically sound scale to measure the construct of commitment. Third, the scale was then used in a mediating effects model (M-E-M) to test the commitment-loyalty link. Path analyses found this parsimonious structure to be a significant improvement over rival direct effects models (D-E-Ms). Results found the tendency to resist changing preference to be a key precursor to loyalty, largely explained by a patron’s willingness to identify with a brand. Implications of these findings for loyalty’s development and research are explored.

Mark P. Pritchard is an assistant professor with the Recreation Management and Tourism Department at Arizona State University and has published inLeisure Sciences, theJournal of Travel Research, and theJournal of Travel and Tourism Marketing. His research concentrates on the application of consumer behavior theory in the travel industry, with a specific focus on commitment and loyalty.
Mark E. Havitz is a professor of recreation and leisure studies at the University of Waterloo. He regularly publishes in theJournal of Leisure Research, Leisure Sciences, and theAnnals of Tourism Research, and he has written for theJournal of Consumer Psychology. His primary research interests relate to leisure involvement, commitment, and loyalty.
Dennis R. Howard is a professor of marketing in the Charles H. Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon. He also serves as the academic coordinator of the college’s James Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. His research focuses on sports marketing with a particular interest on understanding factors that motivate and sustain consumer interest in sport.