Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 683–709 | Cite as

How Do Consumers Perceive the Quality-of-Life Impact of Durable Goods? A Consumer Well-Being Model Based on the Consumption Life Cycle

  • Stephan Grzeskowiak
  • Dong-Jin Lee
  • Grace B. Yu
  • M. Joseph Sirgy
Article

Abstract

Consumer’s overall perception of quality-of-life impact of a consumer durable (PQOLI) refers to consumer’s subjective evaluation of the degree to which marketplace experiences related to a given product impacts one’s overall quality of life (QOL). What are the factors that impact PQOLI? A model based on the concept of the consumption life cycle is developed to answer this question. The model posits that PQOLI is mostly influenced by satisfaction with product purchase, preparation, ownership, consumption, and maintenance experiences. In turn, the model also posits that with satisfaction with purchase, preparation, ownership, consumption, and maintenance are influenced by a set of consumption experiences. The data was collected using a sample of college students. Each respondent was randomly assigned to one of eight product categories: photo cameras, cell phones, athletic shoes, cologne, televisions, watches, sunglasses, and video consoles. The results were generally supportive of the model. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.

Keywords

Consumer well-being Quality of life Perceived quality-of-life impact of a durable good Consumer satisfaction Consumption life cycle 

Introduction

Perceived quality of life impact of a product (PQOLI) refers to the degree to which a product contributes to the quality of life (QOL) of the consumer. It is consumer’s assessment on the impact of a certain durable product on their subjective life satisfaction throughout the entire consumption life cycle of the product.

What are the factors that influence PQOLI? This question has been addressed in the quality-of-life research literature using a variety of theoretical perspectives in the context travel of tourism, personal transportation, mobile phones, restaurants, housing, and the Internet. These perspectives include bottom-up spillover, self-congruity, need hierarchy, and the consumption life cycle (e.g., Sirgy et al. 2006a, 2011; Grzeskowiak and Sirgy 2007; Sirgy et al. 2006b). Specifically, PQOLI is high when consumers experiences satisfaction in various life domains through the consumption of the product (bottom-up spillover theory), when the product personality matches consumer’s self-image (self congruity theory), when consumer experiences satisfaction of various needs through the consumption of product (need hierarchy theory), and when consumers experiences satisfaction through the consumption cycle of the product from the purchase to disposition (consumption life cycle model). Let’s review the evidence.

Using bottom-up spillover theory (e.g., Andrews and Withey 1976; Campbell et al. 1976), Sirgy et al. (2006a) identified seven different life domains in which the Internet contributes positive and negative effect. The life domains affected by the use of the Internet are consumer life, work life, leisure life, education life, social life, community life, and sensual life. Positive and negative affects (related to the perceived benefits and costs of using the Internet) in each life domain contribute to an overall perception of impact in that life domain. Examples of survey items designed to capture perceived impact of the Internet on the sense of well-being in specific life domains include: “How important is the Internet to your consumer life?” “How important is the Internet to your work life?” And “How important is the Internet to your leisure life?” PQOLI of the Internet, in turn, is influenced by the perceived impact of the Internet in each of the seven domains. PQOLI of the Internet was measured using survey items such as “How important is the Internet to your life in general?” A similar model based on bottom-up spillover theory was developed and tested in the context of travel and tourism (Sirgy et al. 2011). PQOLI of the most recent travel/tourism trip was captured in the context of 13 different life domains. These, in turn, predicted PQOLI of the trip at large. The latter construct was measured using survey items such as “Overall, my experience with this trip was memorable having enriched my quality of life.” “My satisfaction with life in general was increased shortly after the trip.” “Although I have my ups and downs, in general, I felt good about my life shortly after the trip.” “After the trip I felt that I lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.” “Overall, I felt happy upon my return from that trip.” Moreover, Sirgy et al. (2008a, b, c) made a similar attempt to model the antecedents of PQOLI of mobile communications. The model was again based bottom-up spillover theory. Specifically, PQOLI of a mobile phone is determined by their perceptions of the impact of the mobile phone in various life domains such as social life, leisure life, family life, education life, health and safety, love life, work life, and financial life. In turn, the perception of impact of the mobile phone in a given life domain (e.g., social life, leisure life) is determined by perceptions of benefits and costs of the cell phone within that domain.

Based on self-congruity theory (Sirgy 1982, 1986), Grzeskowiak and Sirgy (2007) conducted a study which involved PQOLI of a coffee shop. The central tenet of the model was that the match between the coffee shop image (the stereotypic image of the coffee shop patron) and the patron’s self-concept (actual self, idea self, and social self) plays a significant role in the patron’s PQOLI of the coffee shop. To capture PQOLI of the coffee shop the study participants were first asked: “Does patronizing this coffee shop contribute to you quality of life?” Following this question, respondents were presented with four items: (1) “This coffee shop satisfies my overall coffee needs.” (2) “This coffee shop plays a very important role in my social well-being.” (3) “This coffee shop plays an important role in my leisure well-being.” And (4) “This coffee shop plays an important role in enhancing the quality of my school life.”

Based on need hierarchy theory (Maslow 1954), Sirgy et al. (2006b) developed a model to capture the perceived QOL impact of personal transportation vehicles. The model was based on the notion that perceived QOL impact of a personal transportation vehicle is significantly enhanced when the consumption of the vehicle meets the full spectrum of the human developmental needs (i.e., safety, economic, family, social, esteem, actualization, knowledge, and aesthetics needs). Examples of survey items capturing the extent to which a consumer’s automobile satisfy the full spectrum of needs include “I feel very safe in my car,”“My car is economical,” “My car satisfies my family needs,” “My car meets my social needs,” The image of my car shows status and prestige,” “My car reflects who I am,” “My car reflects who I would like to be,” “I use my car to explore new places,” and “My car is beautiful, inside and out.” The perceived QOL impact of the vehicle was captured by survey items that focused on overall satisfaction with personal transportation.

Now let us turn to the consumption life cycle. Grzeskowiak et al. (2006) developed a model of housing well-being guided by theory of the consumption life cycle in that residents are likely to perceive that their home impacts their QOL if they feel high satisfied with experiences related to the purchase of the house, the preparation of the house to suit family needs, the ownership of the house, the use of the house on a daily basis, and the maintenance of the house. The PQOLI of a house was measured using semantic differential scales in response to the question “How do you feel about the way your home contributes to your overall QOL?” The authors used five-point semantic differential scales with the anchor points: “unpleasant–pleasant,” “unfavorable–favorable,” “harmful–beneficial,” “unsatisfactory–satisfactory,” and “undesirable–desirable.”

Again guided by the theoretical concept of the consumption life cycle, Sirgy et al. (2008a, b, c) developed a model to capture the antecedents of PQOLI of mobile phones. Specifically, the model posits that PQOLI of mobile phones is determined by mostly global feelings of satisfaction with mobile phones, which in turn are determined by satisfaction with a broad range of customer-related experiences—experience with the purchase of the mobile phone and service, preparing the mobile phone for personal use, using the mobile phone, owning the mobile phone, and maintenance and repairs of the mobile phone(stages in the consumption life cycle). The perceived QOL impact of a mobile phone was captured using survey items such as “My mobile phone has significantly improved my quality of life.”

While previous studies measured PQOLI of products in the context of tourism services, internet services, coffee shop, housing, and personal transportation, we still has a limited understanding of PQOLI of products in the context of various consumer durable product that consumers use in everyday life. Our attempt here is to build on the program of research related to PQOLI of products using the concept of the consumption life cycle by developing a model that can apply to a wide range of consumer durable goods (i.e., products that are used repeatedly that have a long life span, such as kitchen appliances, furniture, mobile phones, and so on). Specifically, the attempt is to develop a theoretical model that identifies the antecedents of the perceived QOL impact of a durable good in ways that can be managerially useful to management. That is, the model attempts to articulate factors that may influence consumers’ PQOLI of the product in ways that management can control through marketing programs (product, price, place, and promotion types of programs). Thus, the main purpose of this study is to develop and test a model of PQOLI of consumer durable goods. The model should help researchers develop a stream of research related to consumers’ PQOLI of consumer durable goods. The model should also provide marketing practitioners with practical guidelines on how to develop marketing programs to effectively enhance consumer well being. The model can also help public policy officials with conceptual ammunition to help regulate a variety of consumer durable industries in an effort to maximize consumer well being.

Conceptual Development

To reiterate, consumer’s perception of the quality-of-life impact (PQOLI) of a consumer durable refers to consumer’s subjective evaluation of the degree to which marketplace experiences related to the consumer durable impacts the consumer’s overall quality of life. The concept of PQOLI of consumer durable is different from the traditional construct of consumer satisfaction.

Where consumer satisfaction may be necessary for a product to improve consumers’ quality of life, it is not sufficient. For example, a consumer may be highly satisfied with a product but this product may be perceived to have little contribution to their QOL. This may be because the product-related experience is not important in a consumers’ life. The concept of PQOLI is distinct from the general consumer satisfaction construct because it captures satisfaction with those experiences that impact consumers’ life satisfaction. Such QOL-related consumption satisfaction may stem from the whole range of experiences throughout the entire consumption experience with product. That is, not only experiences related to the consumption of the product but also the ownership of the product, the maintenance of the product, as well as other marketplace experiences such as purchase, and preparation of the product for personal use.

Much of the research literature on consumer satisfaction focuses exclusively on experiences related to product purchase and consumption (e.g., Fournier and Mick 1999; Oliver 1989). Very little research focuses on the totality of the marketplace experience. This totality can be captured through consumer experiences with the product in various stages of the consumption life cycle—experiences with purchase, preparation, consumption, ownership, and maintenance. In that vein, satisfaction experienced with every facet of consumer’s interaction with the product may add to the overall satisfaction with QOL-related experiences that reflect PQOLI. In sum, Polis different from customer satisfaction because it is a macro-level concept that captures satisfaction with the entire consumption life cycle ranging from product acquisition to maintenance, whereas customer satisfaction is a more micro-level concept focusing on a particular marketplace experience, mostly product use.

Thus, our first hypothesis can be stated as follows:
  1. H1:
    Consumer’s PQOLI is positively influenced by satisfaction with product purchase(H1a), preparation(H1b), consumption(H1c), ownership(H1d), and maintenance(H1e) (see Fig. 1).
    Fig. 1

    The conceptual model

     

Determinants of Satisfaction with the Purchase Experience

What determines consumer’s satisfaction with the purchase experience? This section deals with consumer’s satisfaction with each facet of the consumption life cycle (purchase, preparation, consumption, ownership, and maintenance). Based on a thorough literature review, we believe that satisfaction with the purchase experience is a function of satisfaction with product options and accessibility (e.g., variety and quality of brand options), salespeople (e.g., salespeople providing valuable and accurate information, helpful in selecting the right product, pleasantness of the social interaction), financial transaction (e.g., financing options, time and effort involved, how the process was or was not emotionally draining), third party information providers (ease of finding objective information, the currency and timeliness of the objective information, the accuracy and credibility of the objective information, the financial cost of acquiring this objective information, etc.), checkout and closing (time and effort to complete the transaction, additional charges related to ordering, whether the experience was emotionally draining, etc.), and product value (e.g., product quality, product warranty, and the price paid). See Fig. 1.

Satisfaction with Product Options and Accessibility

Satisfaction with product options and accessibility refers to consumers’ perception of variety and quality of brand options. When customers have more brand options in shopping for a product, consumers are likely to experience greater satisfaction with the shopping experience. They may experience a high level of satisfaction in purchasing that product because they perceive more choice. Consumers may feel frustrated in shopping confronted with limited choices (e.g., Raajpoot et al. 2007; Zhang and Fitzsimons 1999). In addition, high accessibility of a product makes the shopping process easier, convenient, and less time consuming, contributing to overall satisfaction with the purchase experience. Based on the discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H2a:

    The greater the satisfaction with product options and accessibility, the greater the satisfaction with the overall purchase experience.

     

Satisfaction with Salespeople

We submit that satisfaction with salespeople contributes significantly to consumer’s overall satisfaction with the purchase experience. What does satisfaction with salespeople entail? Satisfaction with salespeople may involve consumers’ evaluation of sales personnel in providing valuable and accurate information, being helpful in selecting the right product, and being pleasant in the social interaction. The courtesy and knowledge of a sales person can increase consumer satisfaction by helping consumers make “the right choice” (e.g., Szymanski 1988; Weitz et al. 1986). Pleasant interactions with salespeople also contribute to the overall satisfaction with salespeople (e.g., Bendapudi and Berry 1997). Much evidence exists that shows that consumer satisfaction with sales personnel has a positive influence on patronage intention (e.g., Baker et al. 1992; Grewal and Sharma 1991; Sharma 1997). Based on the discussion, we propose the following hypothesis:
  1. H2b:

    The greater the satisfaction with sales personnel, the greater the satisfaction with the overall purchase experience.

     

Satisfaction with the Financial Transaction

Consumer satisfaction with the financial transaction is also an important determinant of satisfaction with the overall purchase experience. Financial transaction refers to financing options, time and effort involved, how the financial transaction process was (or was not) emotionally draining. Specifically, financing options such as lease or financing reduce short-term financial burdens of customers and allow customers to have more choices (e.g., Dasgupta et al. 2007; Miller 1995). Research has shown that consumers have an inherent preference to prepay option for hedonic consumption and to post-pay option for durable utilitarian consumption (e.g., Patrick and Park 2006; Prelec and Loewenstein 1998). Firms can enhance satisfaction with the financial transactions by offering consumers financing options and help find suitable a financing option (e.g., Gourville and Soman 2002). Based on the discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H2c:

    The greater the satisfaction with the financial transaction, the greater the satisfaction with the overall purchase experience.

     

Satisfaction with Third-Party Information Providers

Consumer satisfaction with third-party information providers refers to consumers’ evaluation of the relative ease of finding objective information, the currency and timeliness of the objective information, the accuracy and credibility of the objective information, the financial cost of acquiring this objective information, etc. Third party information allows consumers to make “right” decisions by reducing the level of perceived risk in the purchase (e.g., Arndt 1967; Dholakia and Sternthal 1977). Third party information may involve word of mouth among users, user community response, or publications from the third party (such as Consumer Reports). Research has found that consumers rely more on third party information than commercial information (e.g., Gruen et al. 2006). When consumers are satisfied with information from credible third party, they come to have a firm belief about the value of the product and perceive price as fair (e.g., Campbell 2007; Moon and Conlon 2002). Easy access to a high quality third party information increases consumer satisfaction by reducing perceived risk and increasing consumer’s confidence in their own choices. Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H2d:

    The greater the satisfaction with third-party information providers, the greater the satisfaction with the overall purchase experience.

     

Satisfaction with Checkout and Closing

Consumer satisfaction with checkout and closing refers to consumers’ evaluation of the time and effort to complete the transaction, additional charges related to ordering, whether the experience was emotionally draining, etc. Waiting for service in a retail store is an experience that can lead to consumer dissatisfaction (e.g., Katz et al. 1991).Grewal et al. (2003) suggested that consumer expectations of long waiting are likely to have a negative effect on shopping satisfaction. Thus, firms should make efforts to reduce waiting by investing in technology such as efficient checkout equipment, kiosks customer information desk, online shopping options, and self-scanning systems (e.g., Childers et al. 2001; Dabholkar et al. 2003). Studies also found that consumer’s perception of fast turnaround and service efficiency contributes to satisfaction with checkout (e.g., Bateson 1985; Dabholkar et al. 2003; Meuter et al. 2000). Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H2e:

    The greater the satisfaction with checkout and closing, the greater the satisfaction with the overall purchase experience.

     

Satisfaction with Product Value

Consumer satisfaction with product value refers to consumers’ evaluation of product quality, product warranty, and the price paid. Customer value refers to the ratio of perceived quality relative to price (Kotler and Levy 1969). That is, customer value is the difference between the perceived quality (or consumer’s overall judgment about a product’s overall excellence or superiority) and the price of the product(Zeithmal 1981, p.3). According to the means-ends model, customers’ overall value perception and price affects customer satisfaction (Zeithmal 1981). When consumers perceive the value of the product to be high, they are likely to feel high level of satisfaction with the purchase experience (e.g., Anderson et al. 1994). Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H2f:

    The greater the satisfaction with product value, the greater the satisfaction with the overall purchase experience.

     

Determinants of Satisfaction with the Preparation Experience

Based on a thorough literature review, we believe that consumers’ overall satisfaction with product preparation is determined by satisfaction with product assembly, product adaptation, and product registration. See Fig. 1.

Satisfaction with Product Assembly

Consumer satisfaction with product assembly refers to consumers’ evaluation of how helpful the assembly manual, information included in the package, ease of assembly, availability and quality of technical support services, and the assembly outcome.

In general customer participation in the product preparation process may contribute to customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction with product assembly is likely to increase customer satisfaction with the product because (1) customers are more satisfied with the product by having a fun experiencing with the process of assembly (e.g., Ennew and Binks 1999) (2) customers have a sense of control over the product and thus the preparation experience may boost their self esteem., and (3) customers have a better chance (than others) of tailoring the product to their unique needs. Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis:
  1. H3a:

    The greater the satisfaction with product assembly, the greater the satisfaction with the overall preparation experience.

     

Satisfaction with Product Adaptation

Consumer satisfaction with product adaptation refers to consumers’ evaluation of the match of the purchased product with other currently-owned products, ease of customizing the product, information received to assist with customization, etc. Satisfaction with product adaptation increases customer satisfaction because (1) product adaptation allows customers to satisfy their individual needs (e.g., Goldsmith and Freiden 2004; Peppers and Rogers 1997), and (2) product adaptation allows consumers to express their identity by customizing the product to reflect their own identity (e.g., Huffman and Kahn 1998; Van Raaij and Pruyn 1998). Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H3b:

    The greater the satisfaction with product adaptation, the greater the satisfaction with the overall preparation experience.

     

Satisfaction with Product Registration

Consumer satisfaction with product registration refers to consumers’ evaluation of the time and effort required for registration, financial costs associated with registration, and benefits received as a direct function of registration. Customers are happy with firms that provide product registration services as they can reduce the time and effort in doing the paper work for the product registration. Providing customers with one-stop services contributes to customer satisfaction with product registration (e.g., Chase 1996; Karmarkar 1996). Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H3c:

    The greater the satisfaction with product registration, the greater the satisfaction with the overall preparation experience.

     

Determinants of Satisfaction with the Consumption Experience

Based on a thorough literature review, we believe that consumers’ overall satisfaction with product consumption is determined by satisfaction with the functional, experiential, and symbolic/social features of the product. See Fig. 1.

Satisfaction with Product Functionality

Consumer satisfaction with product functionality refers to consumers’ evaluation of the utilitarian aspects of the product—the way it performs as originally intended. Examples of satisfaction with functional features include satisfaction with the way the product performs, the quality of the product, the reliability of the product, the product’s durability, ease of use, financial costs related to product use, and the product’s safety. Much evidence is available to support the notion that satisfaction with functional features of a product contributes significantly to consumer’s overall satisfaction with product use (e.g., Garvin 1988; Juran 1988; Oliver 1989; Srinivasan et al. 1997). Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis:
  1. H4a:

    The greater the satisfaction with product functionality, the greater the satisfaction with the overall consumption experience.

     

Satisfaction with Product Experiential Features

Consumer satisfaction with the product’s experiential features refers to consumers’ evaluation of the hedonic aspects of the product—the way it looks and feels aesthetically. Examples of satisfaction with experiential features include satisfaction with the product’s appearance and style, as well as the appearance of the package. Much evidence is available in the literature suggesting that customers experience satisfaction from the experiential features of the product (e.g., Crader and Zaichlowsky 2007; Hagtvedt and Patrick 2008; Orth and Malkewitz 2008; Yamamoto and Lambert 1994). Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis:
  1. H4b:

    The greater the satisfaction with the product’s experiential features, the greater the satisfaction with the overall consumption experience.

     

Satisfaction with Product Symbolic/Social Features

Consumer satisfaction with the product’s symbolic/social features refers to consumers’ evaluation of the way the product represents the actual self, the ideal self, and the social self. Symbolic features of a product also increase customer satisfaction with the product. In many cases, customers purchase products as an expression of self. Self-congruity (match between the customer’s self-image and the brand image) contributes to the satisfaction of self expressive needs. Much evidence is available in the literature to support the notion that self-congruity influences customer satisfaction (e.g., Kressmann et al. 2006; Sirgy 1982; Sirgy et al. 2007). Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis:
  1. H4c:

    The greater the satisfaction with the product’s symbolic/social features, the greater the satisfaction with the overall consumption experience.

     

Determinants of Satisfaction with the Ownership Experience

With respect to satisfaction with the ownership experience, the literature reveals that customers derive satisfaction from product ownership (e.g., Corfman et al. 1991). This may be due to aspects dealing with financial and socio-psychological value of the investment. See Fig. 1.

Satisfaction with the Financial Value of Investment

Consumers make evaluations about the financial value of the investment by making an assessment of the rate of depreciation in value, the financial costs associated with ownership, the financial benefits associated with ownership (e.g., Levinthal and Purohit 1989). Financial value of a product increases satisfaction with the overall ownership experience. Customers are satisfied with financial value when the financial value of the product appreciates, the resale value of the product remains competitive, and the maintenance cost is not high. The financial value of the product increases customer satisfaction by meeting financial needs of the product. Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H5a:

    The greater the satisfaction with product’s financial value of investment, the greater the satisfaction with the overall ownership experience.

     

Satisfaction with Social-Psychological Value

Customers make evaluations about the social-psychological value of the product by assessing the status and prestige felt from owning the product, feeling “special,” feeling guilty, etc. The social psychological value of a product contributes to the customer satisfaction through the symbolic meaning of the product in terms of status (e.g., Fournier and Mick 1999). Satisfaction of social-psychological value of a product is very important for product owners (e.g., Wang and Wallendorf 2006) and for materialistic customers (e.g., Richins 1994). Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H5b:

    The greater the satisfaction with product’s social-psychological value, the greater the satisfaction with the overall ownership experience.

     

Determinants of the Satisfaction with the Maintenance Experience

With respect to satisfaction with the maintenance experience, we hypothesize that self-maintenance and maintenance by service providers. See Fig. 1.

Satisfaction with Self-Maintenance

Self-maintenance refers to customer satisfaction with the ability to maintain the product on one’s own, satisfaction with the frequency of maintenance requirements, time and effort required for maintenance, financial costs related to maintenance, how emotionally draining the experience is (or isn’t), feeling a sense of competency and mastery, social approval from others, etc. Satisfaction with the self-maintenance contributes to the satisfaction of the maintenance experience because self-maintenance (1) allows customers to reduce the financial cost in the maintenance (e.g., Bitner et al. 2002), (2) increases customer self esteem by allowing customers to experience mastery (e.g., Meuter et al. 2000). Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis:
  1. H6a:

    The greater the satisfaction with product’s self-maintenance potential, the greater the satisfaction with the overall maintenance experience.

     

Satisfaction with Maintenance by Service Providers

Customers’ satisfaction with maintenance by service providers refers to the availability of service providers, the frequency of servicing requirements, time and effort involved with taking the product to the service provider, the price of the service, how emotionally draining the experience is (or isn’t), the pleasantness of the social interaction with the service provider personnel, and any social approval from others the consumers gain from others as a direct result of using a specific service provider (e.g., Adler and Hlavacek 1978). Maintenance satisfaction with service provider increases customer satisfaction because it saves time. Satisfaction with the maintenance is especially important in the later stage of the consumption lifecycle. By taking care of the product through the entire consumption life cycle, firms can ensure customer satisfaction with the totality of product experiences and thus ensures customer trust and loyalty. Based on the preceding discussion, we propose the following hypothesis.
  1. H6b:

    The greater the satisfaction with product’s maintenance by service providers, the greater the satisfaction with the overall maintenance experience.

     

Method

Data Collection

We conducted a survey using a convenience sample of university students. Respondents were undergraduate business school students who enrolled in business courses, producing a total sample of 459 completed questionnaires. Out of these 459 questionnaires 49 either had substantial amounts of missing data (approximately 10 % across all questionnaire items) did not qualify for the study or were returned after the study deadline, leaving 410 valid responses.

Each respondent was randomly assigned to one of eight product categories (photo cameras, cell phones, athletic shoes, cologne, televisions, watches, sunglasses, and video consoles). Screening questions asking the respondent whether they owned a product in the focal category, how long they have owned the product, and the approximate purchase price. These screening questions were intended to filter respondents who had insufficient experience in owning the product in question.

Constructs and Measures

The survey questionnaire was structured as follows. After reporting the classification questions, respondents were presented with the PQOLI measures. The remaining parts of the questionnaire were divided in sections reflecting the various types of affective experiences with the product: acquisition, preparation, use, ownership, and maintenance. Within each section, respondents were asked to rate their agreement to statements capturing various sources of satisfaction related to the focal experience. We further instructed the respondents to skip questions that did not apply. The product stimuli involved a variety of other consumer goods: photo camera, cell phone, athletic shoes, cologne, television, watch, sunglasses, and video games.

With respect to the PQOLI construct, respondents were asked to rate how they felt about those experiences related to each consumer well-being dimension for the product in question. For example, “How do you feel about the way the purchase of your (name of product category) contributes to your overall quality of life?” captured respondents’ PQOLI associated with experiences with the acquisition of the product. Responses to each item related to PQOLI in relation to each consumer well-being dimension were captured using five semantic differential scales: unpleasant / pleasant, unfavorable / favorable, harmful / beneficial, unsatisfactory / satisfactory, undesirable / desirable (see Appendix A for the exact set of items).

With respect to the generic survey items used to capture consumer satisfaction with product acquisition, the focus group revealed the generic components of product options and accessibility (e.g., variety and quality of brand options), sales person (e.g., providing valuable and accurate information, helpful in selecting the right product, price fairness, pleasantness of the social interaction), financial transaction (e.g., financing options, time and effort involved, how the process was emotionally draining), third party information providers (ease of finding objective information, the currency and timeliness of the objective information, the accuracy and credibility of the objective information, the financial cost of acquiring this objective information, etc.), checkout and closing (time and effort to complete the transaction, additional charges related to ordering, whether the experience was emotionally draining, etc.), and product value (e.g., product quality, product warranty, and the price paid). See Appendix A for the exact set of items.

With respect to product preparation, we were able to identify the following sub-dimensions from the focus group: product assembly (e.g., how helpful the assembly manual, information included in the package, ease of assembly, availability and quality of technical support services, the assembly outcome), product adaptation (e.g., the match of the purchased product with other currently-owned products, ease of customizing the product, information received to assist with customization), and product registration (e.g., time and effort required for registration, financial costs associated with registration, benefits received as a direct function of registration). See Appendix A for the exact set of items.

In relation to the use or consumption of the product, the focus group findings revealed three generic sets of product features, namely functional, experiential, and symbolic. Examples of satisfaction with functional features include satisfaction with the way the product performs, the quality of the product, the reliability of the product, the product’s durability, ease of use, financial costs related to product use, and the product’s safety. Examples of satisfaction with experiential features include satisfaction with the product’s appearance and style, as well as the appearance of the package. Examples of satisfaction with the product’s symbolic features include satisfaction with the way the product represents the actual self, the ideal self, and the social self. See Appendix A for the exact set of items.

With respect to ownership of the product, the focus group findings revealed the that consumers derive life-satisfaction from the ownership of a product because of aspects dealing with financial value of the investment (e.g., the rate of depreciation in value, the financial costs associated with ownership, the financial benefits associated with ownership) and the social-psychological value of the investment (e.g., status and prestige felt from owning the product, feeling “special,” feeling guilty). See Appendix A for the exact set of items.

In regards to maintenance of the product, the focus group findings revealed the following factors: self-maintenance (e.g., satisfaction with the ability to maintain on own, satisfaction with the frequency of maintenance requirements, time and effort required for maintenance, financial costs related to maintenance, how emotionally draining the experience is, feeling a sense of competency and mastery, social approval from others), and maintenance by service providers (e.g., availability of service providers, the frequency of servicing requirements, time and effort involved with taking the product to the service provider, the price of the service, how emotionally draining the experience is, the pleasantness of the social interaction with the service provider personnel, the social approval from others). See Appendix A for the exact set of items.

Results

The Measurement Model

We used Lisrel 18.3 to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis of the measurement items involved in PQOLI, and overall satisfaction with product acquisition[ACQ], preparation [PRE], use [USE], ownership [OWN], and maintenance [MAI]). The resulting model did fit the data reasonably (χ2 = 1533.01, df. = 376, p = .00; CFI = .92, NFI = .91, GFI = .80, RMSEA = .08) and provided supportive evidence of convergent validity for each measure (see Table 1). To assess discriminant validity, we first tested the 95 % confidence intervals of the Phi estimates and found none includes 1.0. We then ran the χ2 difference tests for all constructs in pairs and found that the unconstrained models have significantly better fit than the models that are constrained to be equal (p < 0.05). We also found that the shared variance between all pairs of constructs is significantly lower than the average variance extracted for the individual construct (cf. Fornell and Larcker 1981) (see Table 2). All these results provide the evidence of discriminant validity of measures.
Table 1

Confirmatory factor analysis results for endogenous variables

Construct

Indicator

Standardized factor loading

Cronbach’s alpha

AVE

Composite reliability

Perceived QOL impact of a product

Pqoli1

0.749

0.891

0.784

0.899

Pqoli2

0.853

   

Pqoli3

0.741

   

Pqoli4

0.830

   

Pqoli5

0.825

   

Satisfaction w/ product acquisition overall

Acq1

0.880

0.938

0.863

0.938

Acq2

0.906

   

Acq3

0.799

   

Acq4

0.875

   

Acq5

0.875

   

Satisfaction w/ product preparation overall

Pre1

0.915

0.953

0.890

0.949

Pre2

0.898

   

Pre3

0.857

   

Pre4

0.891

   

Pre5

0.880

   

Satisfaction w/ product use overall

Use1

0.888

0.933

0.842

0.930

Use2

0.877

   

Use3

0.756

   

Use4

0.875

   

Use5

0.860

   

Satisfaction w/ product ownership overall

Own1

0.931

0.958

0.903

0.956

Own2

0.931

   

Own3

0.845

   

Own4

0.888

   

Own5

0.912

   

Satisfaction w/ product maintenance overall

Mai1

0.902

0.955

0.875

0.949

Mai2

0.894

   

Mai3

0.827

   

Mai4

0.927

   

Mai5

0.887

   

Fit Indices:χ2(p-value) = 1533.007 (.00),df = 376; CFI = 0.919, NFI = 0.906, GFI = 0.801, RMSEA = 0.086

Table 2

Test of discriminatn validity

 

Phi-squared

AVE

a

b

C

d

e

f

Perceived QOL impact of a product (a)

1.000

     

0.784

Satisfaction w/ product acquisition overall (b)

0.417

1.000

    

0.863

Satisfaction w/ product preparation overall (c)

0.518

0.444

1.000

   

0.890

Satisfaction w/ product use overall (d)

0.579

0.326

0.437

1.000

  

0.842

Satisfaction w/ product ownership overall (e)

0.511

0.384

0.381

0.643

1.000

 

0.903

Satisfaction w/ product maintenance overall (f)

0.237

0.319

0.385

0.262

0.304

1.000

0.875

Given the large number of variables in the model, we conducted separate measurement model for exogenous variables. We tested convergent and discriminant validity of sets of exogenous variables, namely determinants of satisfaction with product acquisition, preparation, usage, ownership, and maintenance. The resulting model did fit to the data reasonably and provided supportive evidence of convergent validity for each exogenous measure (see Appendix A).

The Structural Model

Given that the convergent and discriminant validity findings are supportive of the measures reliability and construct validity, we aggregated all scale items within each construct by calculating their mean. For example, in relation to ACQ1 (satisfaction with product options and accessibility), the reflective indicators of this construct were averaged to comprise an overall score for ACQ1. Note that we did not replace missing values, because missing values are valid responses. Thus, the content of the composite measure of each construct is specific to the respondent and captures only consumer-marketer interactions that the respondent actually experienced. We then regressed each sub-dimension (ACQ1, ACQ2, etc.) on all remaining sub-dimensions in order to test for multi-collinearity. All sub-dimensions met the cut-off criterion of a .30 tolerance level yielding a maximum VIF of 3.33 across all sub-dimensions.

Table 3 shows the correlation matrix and descriptive statistics for the research variables. The largest variable mean is 4.19 (M = 3.77) and the standard deviations for these variables range from .71 to .92 (M = .81), indicating a substantial amount of variance in the responses. The correlations in Table 3 largely show significant positive relationships for the proposed links between the sub-dimensions and dimension satisfaction. The correlation also shows positive relationship between dimension satisfaction and PQOLI, lending cursory support to the model overall.
Table 3

Correlation matrix of the study constructs

 

PQOLIACQ

PRE

USE

OWN

MAI

ACQ1

ACQ2

ACQ3

ACQ4

ACQ5

ACQ6

PRE1

PRE2

PRE3

USE1

USE2

USE3

OWN1

OWN2

MAI1

MAI2

PQOLI

1.00

                     

 ACQ

0.61

1.00

                    

 PRE

0.66

0.62

1.00

                   

 USE

0.70

0.55

0.62

1.00

                  

 OWN

0.60

0.56

0.49

0.69

1.00

                 

 MAI

0.39

0.42

0.44

0.37

0.47

1.00

                

Acquisition

 ACQ1

0.29

0.23

0.26

0.33

0.27

0.16

1.00

               

 ACQ2

0.05

0.06

0.09

0.09

−0.01

0.03

0.35

1.00

              

 ACQ3

0.14

0.15

0.16

0.16

0.13

0.07

0.25

0.31

1.00

             

 ACQ4

0.22

0.16

0.20

0.29

0.14

0.05

0.37

0.27

0.31

1.00

            

 ACQ5

0.22

0.14

0.15

0.22

0.15

0.04

0.34

0.31

0.47

0.42

1.00

           

 ACQ6

0.25

0.23

0.18

0.27

0.16

0.12

0.35

0.29

0.34

0.44

0.44

1.00

          

Preparation

 PRE1

0.16

0.19

0.18

0.19

0.12

0.08

0.25

0.26

0.26

0.47

0.37

0.40

1.00

         

 PRE2

0.39

0.23

0.37

0.37

0.34

0.24

0.44

0.19

0.26

0.41

0.30

0.39

0.44

1.00

        

 PRE3

0.21

0.24

0.30

0.23

0.10

−0.02

0.20

0.24

0.23

0.38

0.36

0.41

0.60

0.41

1.00

       

Use

 USE1

0.35

0.23

0.26

0.33

0.30

0.25

0.39

0.21

0.31

0.36

0.42

0.60

0.44

0.53

0.40

1.00

      

 USE2

0.35

0.23

0.30

0.31

0.25

0.24

0.36

0.19

0.18

0.20

0.23

0.34

0.30

0.47

0.28

0.57

1.00

     

 USE3

0.29

0.28

0.32

0.29

0.30

0.29

0.34

0.20

0.13

0.26

0.15

0.34

0.13

0.39

0.30

0.45

0.48

1.00

    

Ownership

 OWN1

0.22

0.29

0.28

0.29

0.26

0.19

0.25

0.16

0.22

0.40

0.30

0.45

0.41

0.33

0.49

0.51

0.33

0.45

1.00

   

 OWN2

0.29

0.27

0.26

0.31

0.27

0.20

0.23

0.17

0.12

0.16

0.14

0.24

0.04

0.24

0.08

0.23

0.33

0.40

0.18

1.00

  

Maintenance

 MAI1

0.27

0.25

0.30

0.21

0.28

0.35

0.29

0.12

0.28

0.36

0.35

0.39

0.33

0.40

0.33

0.50

0.36

0.35

0.47

0.34

1.00

 

 MAI2

0.17

0.20

0.28

0.19

0.22

0.19

0.20

0.28

0.30

0.28

0.21

0.35

0.28

0.32

0.37

0.38

0.24

0.32

0.49

0.24

0.43

1.00

Mean

4.09

3.81

3.81

4.08

3.89

3.48

4.00

3.31

3.60

3.66

3.76

3.97

3.90

3.96

3.60

4.19

4.08

3.67

3.58

3.46

3.49

3.45

S.D.

0.71

0.82

0.83

0.75

0.84

0.92

0.82

0.84

0.83

0.78

0.84

0.80

0.82

0.85

0.78

0.75

0.86

0.92

0.86

0.80

0.68

0.73

See Fig. 1 or Appendix 1 to understand the acronyms; bold = significant at p < .01; italicized = significant at p < .05

Stage Specific Models

Five regression runs (ordinary least-squares) were conducted— one for each dimension (ACQ, PRE, USE, OWN, and MAI). The results of regression after backward elimination of non-significant predictors are presented in Table 4.
Table 4

Study results–effect of subdimensions on satisfaction w/product acquisition, preparation, use, ownership, and maintenance

Dependent variables:

ACQ

PRE

USE

OWN

MAI

Independent variables

β

t

β

t

β

t

β

t

β

t

ACQ1

.13

2.01

        

ACQ2

        

ACQ3

        

ACQ4

        

ACQ5

.16

2.26

        

ACQ6

.13

1.95

        

PRE1

  

      

PRE2

  

.41

5.63

      

PRE3

  

.16

2.17

      

USE1

    

.18

3.01

    

USE2

    

.17

2.78

    

USE3

    

.12

2.15

    

OWN1

      

.21

4.18

  

OWN2

      

.21

4.11

  

MAI1

        

.32

5.96

MAI2

        

Control variables

 Athletic shoes

 Photo camera

−.17

−2.50

 Cell phone

.19

3.12

.10

2.09

−.14

−2.73

-.13

−2.36

 Cologne

.10

1.87

 Sunglasses

 Television

 Watch

.15

2.34

 Game console

−.26

−3.74

−.09

−1.75

Fit statistics

 R2

.14

.33

.17

.13

.15

 Adj. R2

.13

.31

.16

.13

.14

 F

8.19

18.51

14.74

17.83

17.78

 Sig.

.00

.00

.00

.00

.00

 d.f.

5

4

5

3

3

 Max. VIF

1.35

1.21

1.68

1.05

1.04

Product Acquisition

We hypothesized that seven generic sub-dimensions of acquisition satisfaction (product option and accessibility, salesperson, financial transaction, 3rd part information providers, checkout and closing, and product value) would predict the PQOLI related to acquisition. The results show that the generic consumer well-being sub-dimensions of product options and accessibility (β = .13, t = 2.01), checkout and closing (β = .16, t = 2.26), and product value (β = .13, t = 1.95) significantly predicted PQOLI related to acquisition. However, the sub-dimensions of salesperson, financial transaction, and 3rd part information providers were not supported by the data. All these variables combined explain 13 % of the variance of PQOLI related to acquisition.

Product Preparation

The data also provided some support for the second consumer well-being dimension related to product preparation. Specifically, we found that product adaptation (β = .41, t = 5.63) and product registration (β = .16, t = 2.17), but not product assembly, have a significant predictors of PQOLI related to preparation. All together these predictors explain 33 % of the variance.

Product Use

We hypothesized that three generic sources of satisfaction in product use (functional, experiential, and symbolic features) have a significant influence on PQOLI related to product use. Each of these sub-dimensions was found to be highly predictive of PQOLI-use (functional: β = .18, t = 3.01; experiential: β = .17, t = 2.78; symbolic: β = .12, t = 2.15) explaining a total of 17 % variance in the criterion variable.

Product Ownership

With respect to ownership, as hypothesized, the two sources of satisfaction (financial value of investment: β = .21, t = 4.18 and social-psychological value: β = .21, t = 4.11) significantly predicted PQOLI related to ownership. These generic sub-dimensions explain 13 % variance in the criterion variable.

Product Maintenance

Finally, the study results provided support for one of the two hypothesized generic sub-dimensions of product maintenance. Self-maintenance (β = .32, t = 5.96), but not maintenance providers, accounted for 15 % of the variance in the criterion variable.

Overall Model

Hypotheses were tested using ordinary least-squares (OLS) regression analysis. The results provide support for the hypothesized relationships between overall satisfaction with the various stages of the consumption life cycle (ACQ, PRE, USE, OWN, and MAI) and PQOLI, except for satisfaction with product maintenance overall. These results provide support for hypotheses H1a, H1b, H1c, and H1d, but not H1e. In other words, the results showed evidence of criterion validity by significantly predicting PQOLI-overall (see Table 5). PQOLI-acquisition (β = .18, t = 4.01), PQOLI-preparation (β = .28, t = 5.95), PQOLI-use (β = .35, t = 7.09), and PQOLI-ownership (β = .13, t = 2.66) together explain 60 % of the variance in PQOLI-overall (F = 52.50, p = .00, d.f. = 12, Adj. R2 = .60).
Table 5

Study results–effects of satisfaction with product acquisition, preparation, use, ownership, and maintenance on PQOLI

Dependent Variable:

PQOLI

Standardized β

t-value

Independent variables

 ACQ

.18

4.01

 PRE

.28

5.95

 USE

.35

7.09

 OWN

.13

2.66

 MAI

.00

−.03

Control variables

 Photo camera

−.07

−1.77

 Cell phone

−.03

−.68

 Sunglasses

−.05

−1.25

 Television

−.02

−.58

 Watch

−.02

−.63

 Game console

−.01

−.30

Fit statistics

 R2

.61

 

 Adj. R2

.60

 

 F

52.50

 

 Sig.

.00

 

 d.f.

12

 

 Max. VIF

2.47

 

PQOLI Perceived QOL impact of product, ACQ Satisfaction with product acquisition overall, PRE Satisfaction with product preparation overall, USE Satisfaction with product use overall, OWN Satisfaction with product ownership overall, MAI Satisfaction with product maintenance overall

Discussion

Overall, the findings of this study indicate that our two major goals have been met to the most extent. Our first goal for the study is to test the theoretical notion that consumers’ perception of the product impact on their quality of life (PQOLI) is positively related to satisfaction with acquisition, preparation, use, ownership, maintenance experiences across a variety of consumer durables. Our data provides strong support for the link between product-specific marketplace experiences (across the various stages of the consumption life cycle) and consumers’ perception of the product impact on their quality of life. We demonstrated that product-specific satisfaction experiences aggregate into multiple product-specific consumer well-being dimensions. Further, our results show that these consumer well-being dimensions jointly contribute to PQOLI.

We also hypothesized that the generic sub-dimensions of consumer well-being related to the various types of consumer experiences (acquisition, preparation, use, ownership, maintenance) predicted their corresponding PQOLI counterparts. The mean adjusted R2 across all five product categories was 18 %, which can be regarded as a relatively good, given the substantial heterogeneity of the data with respect to specific products chosen in each category. An adaptation of the questionnaire items and satisfaction dimensions to specific product categories or even brands is, therefore, likely to produce a considerable improvement in the significance of individual sources of satisfaction.

We conclude that the generic product-specific consumer well-being measure developed here appears to be flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of consumer durables. It should be noted that the non-significant regression results in relation to several consumer well-being sub-dimensions do not mean that those aspects of the generic consumer well-being measure should be eliminated. Rather, these non-significant findings show that the generic measure developed here provides important insights into the content of product-specific consumer well-being in particular product categories. For example, the non-significant finding related to product assembly suggests that product assembly does not carry much weight in the quality-of-life impact of the eight product categories in this study (i.e., photo camera, cell phone, athletic shoes, cologne, television, watch, sunglasses, and video games). However, product assembly is likely to be more important in other product categories such as furniture or personal computers.

Conclusion

This research reported in this paper describes the development of a product-specific consumer well-being measure guided by the concept of the consumption life cycle. Marketing implications of the measure are as follows. First, the consumer well-being measure should enable marketers to assess the consumer welfare impact of products more directly. The measure can provide marketers with information on ways to enhance consumers’ perceived product impact on their quality of life. Second, the consumption stage-specific PQOLI information should provide marketers with information on the areas of improvement that can be extrapolated easily from the sub-dimensions of that stage. With this information, marketers can enhance marketplace experiences that make a positive difference inequality of life of their customers. Third, a focus on PQOLI should influence marketers to place greater importance on consumer well-being and quality-of-life issues. Fourth, research using product-specific consumer well-being measures across many industries should influence public policy in the way that government regulates business and the marketing institution at large. For example, public policy could be formulated to enhance consumers' happiness and reduces consumers' misery. The availability of consumer well-being measures allows monitoring of consumer’s happiness in the marketplace.

The study has the following limitations. First, this study focused on the cognitive dimension of QOL, consumer satisfaction of marketplace experiences related to product acquisition, preparation, consumption, ownership, and maintenance. Consumer satisfaction reflects how consumers cognitively evaluate their experiences, which in turn usually generates affect. However, future research could further develop consumer well-being measures that are more sensitive to the affective dimensions. For example, a consumer well-being measure can incorporate positive and negative affect directly (Diener 1984; Diener et al. 1991, 1995; Diener and Chan 2011; Diener and Emmons 1984). Second, the research reported here focused on the quality-of-life impact of consumer durables. Future research should develop a consumer well-being measure focusing on consumer services. Third, despite the fact that this study assumed the impact of each consumption cycle (acquisition, possession, consumption, and maintenance) on life satisfaction as equal, individuals may have different weight for each domain. For example, acquisition satisfaction will have a greater weight (influence on life satisfaction) when consumers are highly involved with shopping, and possession satisfaction will have a high weight when consumers have a high level of materialism. Moreover, relative importance of each dimension may vary across product category and segments. Future research should consider these individual and product specific factors affecting relative importance of each dimension on PQOLI. Fourth, the consumer well-being measure was developed through a cross-sectional study. Future research using longitudinal design should help identify changes in PQOLI over time. Fifth, this research focused on satisfaction(positive affect) with a product and its impact on QOL. Yet, in many cases, customer dissatisfaction(negative affect) also negatively influences quality of life. Future study should capture the impact of a product failure and resulting dissatisfaction on quality of life. Sixth, future research should focus on the antecedents of consumer well-being—personality, situational, cultural, and organizational factors that may impact the specific dimensions and sub-dimensions of consumer well-being. Furthermore, future research should explore the consequences of consumer well-being on traditional marketing performance criteria such as sales, profitability, market share, word of mouth, brand loyalty, among others. Finally, our study focuses on consumer experiences from acquisition to maintenance as the respondents were asked to assess their level of satisfaction from products that are currently in use. Future research can expand the product-specific consumer well-being model by incorporating consumer satisfaction experiences related to product disposal or relinquishment, especially for environmentally conscious consumers and products that have a high level of environmental consequences. It is important to note that the validity of measures related to recalled experiences vs. anticipated experiences of QOL impact may vary. Future studies should examine these effects. In addition, future research should flesh out the various dimensions and sub-dimensions of these experiences and attempt to relate these experiences (aggregated across the various dimensions and sub-dimensions) to PQOLI. We encourage others to pursue this research agenda.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephan Grzeskowiak
    • 1
  • Dong-Jin Lee
    • 2
  • Grace B. Yu
    • 2
  • M. Joseph Sirgy
    • 3
  1. 1.Rouen Business SchoolRouenFrance
  2. 2.Yonsei UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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