Categories of Loyalty. Toward Meaning-Based Theory of Customer Loyalty

The research utilizes social constructionism paradigm to critically examine, reposition, and extend the notion of customer loyalty. The data comprises of thirteen verbal loyalty narratives of loyal customers in the Finnish retailing context. The study provides an account of customer loyalty that is grounded in the social reality of consumers and informed by social constructionism paradigm that has had no prior influence on empirical or theoretical work in the loyalty field. The research presents five loyalty metadiscourses portraying socially shared meanings of customer loyalty: loyalty as a prison, loyalty as a habit, loyalty as a game, social loyalty and reasoned loyalty. Based on these five loyalty metadiscourses eight meaning-based categories of loyalty are presented: compulsive loyalty, routined loyalty, reasoned loyalty, suspicious loyalty, loyalty as a game, herited loyalty, social loyalty and ethical/political loyalty. Categorization of loyalty provides a basis for meaning-based loyalty theory that contradicts premises of traditional loyalty theory and presents customer loyalty as fundamentally social action embedded in the consumer culture.


Heli Paavola (2005) ,"Categories of Loyalty. Toward Meaning-Based Theory of Customer Loyalty", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 7, eds. Karin M. Ekstrom and Helene Brembeck, Goteborg, Sweden : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 420-428.


Heli Paavola, University of Tampere


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 7 | 2005

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