Nudging and marketing communications : a regulatory focus perspective

Protopapa, Ilia and Kalafatis, Stavros P. (2022) Nudging and marketing communications : a regulatory focus perspective. In: Keeling, Debbie I. , de Ruyter, Ko and Cox, David, (eds.) Handbook of research on customer loyalty. Cheltenham, U.K. : Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 202-215. (Research handbooks in business and management) ISBN 9781800371620


Although in their seminal paper Thaler and Sunstein (2008) emphasise the choice guiding principles of the nudge theory there is logic to extend nudging to include the maintenance or loyalty aspect of consumer behaviour. Marketing communications play a central role in the maintenance of preferences. However, the question remains as to why individuals with similar goals respond differentially to the nudging effects of marketing communications. This is the focus of this chapter which we address through the lens of the regulatory focus theory which was developed by Higgins (1997) and suggests that promotion and prevention (chronic or induced) are the two strategic orientations that guide individuals in the pursue of their goals. Matching or aligning communications to an individual's regulatory focus results in regulatory fit which in turn increases an individual's perceptions of an outcome value and by extension loyalty. We find only a small number of empirical investigations of the role of regulatory focus or fit on loyalty (especially behavioural loyalty). The empirical evidence of the direct and indirect effects of chronic regulatory focus on loyalty is equivalent and is based on studies that contain a number of conceptual and methodological limitations. Consequently, the absence of robust research leads to the need for additional research before reaching a substantive conclusion. Conversely, the theoretical and methodological rigour of the studies that investigate the impact of induced regulatory focus and fit on customer loyalty provide confidence in the reported findings. Acknowledging some divergence, we can report that regulatory focus and fit are significant moderators of loyalty and the functional relationship between satisfaction and loyalty (especially attitudinal). We use the SOR framework to synthesise the results of our analysis.

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