Marketing Letters

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 661–678 | Cite as

It’s all relative: how customer-perceived competitive advantage influences referral intentions

  • Martin Mende
  • Scott A. Thompson
  • Christian Coenen


Better understanding the mechanisms that influence customer intentions to spread positive word-of-mouth (WOM) is crucial to both marketing scholars and managers. This multimethod research contributes to marketing knowledge by revealing how a firm’s customer-perceived competitive advantage (CPCA) influences positive WOM intentions. Analyses of (1) cross-sectional survey data on bank customers in Germany and (2) experimental data on customers of car insurance companies in the USA reveal two crucial insights. First, CPCA influences WOM intentions in both industries, over and above numerous established antecedents of customer loyalty (e.g., satisfaction, trust, and perceived value). Second, this research demonstrates a robust and pervasive CPCA-by-satisfaction interaction effect, such that the influence of CPCA on WOM intentions increases as customer satisfaction decreases. The results show that customer-perceived competitive advantage plays an important role in shaping WOM intentions, especially among less-satisfied customers. Theoretical and managerial implications of these findings are discussed.


Word-of-mouth intentions Competitive advantage Relationship marketing Customer loyalty 



The authors are grateful to the editor and the two anonymous reviewers for the constructive and supportive feedback. Moreover, they thank Ruth Bolton, Mark Houston, Mike Hutt, and Maura Scott for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Mende
    • 1
  • Scott A. Thompson
    • 2
  • Christian Coenen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Marketing, College of BusinessFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Marketing Department, Terry College of BusinessUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Services ManagementZurich University of Applied SciencesZurichSwitzerland

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