Come Fly With Me: the Role of Consumer Confidence and Trust in Crisis

Nancy Wong, Georgia Institute of Technology
Alka Citrin, Georgia Institute of Technology
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - This research examines the role of consumer confidence on the relationships between trust and satisfaction and also between trust and behavioral intentions. In addition, the impact of locus of control is also examined in the relationships between dependence and satisfaction and also between dependence and behavioral intentions. These relationships are examined in different conditions of perceived environmental turbulence. A between subject experiment is conducted using a survey of adult-non-students. Responses from 608 respondents are analyzed to test the proposed relationships.
[ to cite ]:
Nancy Wong and Alka Citrin (2003) ,"Come Fly With Me: the Role of Consumer Confidence and Trust in Crisis", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, eds. Punam Anand Keller and Dennis W. Rook, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 101-102.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, 2003     Pages 101-102

COME FLY WITH ME: THE ROLE OF CONSUMER CONFIDENCE AND TRUST IN CRISIS

Nancy Wong, Georgia Institute of Technology

Alka Citrin, Georgia Institute of Technology

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

This research examines the role of consumer confidence on the relationships between trust and satisfaction and also between trust and behavioral intentions. In addition, the impact of locus of control is also examined in the relationships between dependence and satisfaction and also between dependence and behavioral intentions. These relationships are examined in different conditions of perceived environmental turbulence. A between subject experiment is conducted using a survey of adult-non-students. Responses from 608 respondents are analyzed to test the proposed relationships.

Previous theories of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have examined the roles of satisfaction, trust, and commitment in influencing customers’ attitudes toward the firm and their future purchase and use intentions. Such favorable attitudes have been found to insulate firms against the onslaughts of negative information or publicity. Recent events since September 11 have challenged this country and marketplace to the extent never before encountered in its history. These events also highlight a concept that has not been studied in previous consumer trust research, namely, consumer confidence. The researchers propose that consumer confidence is an important part of a model of consumer trust but is distinct from it in significant ways. We propose that trust towards a firm consists of two components: expectations and reliance. Consumer confidence, on the other hand, reflects a consumer’s perceptions of the firm’s abilities to deal with events. It is therefore based on demonstrated capability. This construct becomes important in a crisis situation when trust may still be maintained but a firm’s inconsistent actions may undermine confidence. The events since September 11 (and the airlines’ subsequent response to the events) have undermined consumer confidence, not consumer trust. Therefore, it is important to understand what actions can be taken to gain consumer confidence and in the process, restore patronage of the airlines.

Our research unravels the distinction between consumer confidence and trust and shows that consumer confidence becomes a salient construct in the presence of extreme environmental turbulence and impacts intentions to use air travel. A between subjects experiment was conducted using a survey method for data collection. Based on responses received from 608 adult non-students the hypothesized relationships were examined. The results show that in neutral conditions, both trust and confidence are significantly related to satisfaction. However, in conditions perceived to be threatening, confidence moderates the relationship between trust and satisfaction. Interestingly, we also find that the impact of trust on intention diminishes in conditions perceived to be threatening and instead, the impact of consumer confidence on intentions now becomes significant.

We also examine the role of locus of control in the relationships between dependence and satisfaction in addition to that between dependence and intentions. Our results indicate significant moderating effects of locus of control in the relationships between dependence and behavioral intentions for different conditions of environmental turbulence.

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