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Impact of consumer confusion on customer satisfaction



In this blog post, I will focus on three decisive consequences of consumer confusion: (1) product satisfaction; (b) information satisfaction and (c) overall satisfaction.

Using quantitative methodology and recognized scales in the domains of psychological science and customer behavior, we through empirical observation examined the roots and consequences of customer confusion. The results suggest that expectations, attribute confusion and information confusion importantly impact overall confusion.

What Is More, we also found that product confusion importantly impacts product and information satisfaction however expectations do not. It was found that information confusion significantly impacted information satisfaction but did not impact attribute satisfaction. We also found the considerable impact of overall confusion; product satisfaction and information satisfaction on buyer behaviour. The outcomes coincide with the previous research, that consumer confusion is a multi-dimensional construct with fundamental impact on behavioral intents. There are very many most-valuable academic and managerial implications from the precedent findings.

Increasing understanding of customers and lessening confusion is one of the major aims of any organization. Moreover, in markets like banking, where many similarities of expectations, attributes and information exist within customer judgments, reduction in customer confusion can become a root of competitive advantage. The model for this research supplies directors 1st hand idea of where and how customer confusion is caused. This will aid marketers in optimizing their organisational resources to deal with the multi-faceted phenomenon of customer confusion. Marketing managers embracing consumer confusion as a uni-dimensional phenomenon may encounter undesirable results. For example, just bettering the product or service characteristic may shorten attribute confusion. However, deficient communication and highly enlarged expectations may still lift the overall confusion. Similarly, a good communication promotion with a less distinguished product or service may also elevate confusion in customers heads.

The findings indicate that information confusion has an affect on information satisfaction and which in turn, has a substantial influence on purchase decision. In the context of FSIs, this finding merits consideration especially where customers are faced with wide ranging technical and complex information on the financial products which can produce implications for buyer decision.

The findings also unveil the considerable affect of information confusion on information satisfaction. However the affect is non-significant in the case of product satisfaction. Therefore, weindicate the use of attribute and information satisfaction as distinct concepts in upcoming debates rather than applying overall satisfaction as a single construct. Furthermore, the study findings also represent the complexness of relationship between the constructs. Directors should check that they handle these concepts as stand-alone instead of taking a causal relationship.


Consequences of consumer confusion

Confusion and its impact on satisfaction


Comparing status/luxury consumption in the UK and India



So, what status consumption is and how it impacts our behaviour? Academics define status consumption as the consumers behavior of trying to purchase brands and services for the luxury they confer, regardless of consumers objective income or social class. luxury consumption in general involves high-end pricy luxury goods. Most people don't consume these products regularly. Some consumers use such products to fulfill material needs but also the social needs.  

To discover the similarities and divergences relating to status consumption, I conducted a study focusing on the luxury consumption practices among the British and Indian consumers. The countries were selected for their historic association, product category affiliation with luxury consumption and commonnesses of brands accessible.

The project focused on 3 essential antecedents of luxury consumption: (a) socio-psychological antecedents; (b) brand roots and (c) situational roots. The socio-psychological antecedents were further branched into three distinct categories namely: (a1) social gains; (a2) esteem indication and (a3) ostentation. The brand roots were also broken into two categories namely: (b1) management controlled brand features and (b2) market controlled brand features.

Rather than talking over the methodology and scale equivalence and such other statistical topics, I will now focus on the status consumption tendencies among the British and Indian consumers. If you wish to read more about it, you can surely visit the source provided below.

It was detected that British consumers applied status consumption to achieve social benefits, show esteem and ostentation behavior. However, in the Indian context consumers engaged in status consumption with generally show-off. This presents the divergences between Western and Eastern consumers and the influence of culture and markets. The British consumers, who belong to  individualistic  culture,  focus  on  their  actual  self-concept. However, in comparison with the Indian consumers, from a collectivist culture, focus  on  others  self-concept  as  they  wish  to signal ostentatious behaviour via luxury consumption.

With regard to Brand roots, it was noticed that both, management controlled and market controlled brand features have a fundamental affect on status consumption. However, British consumers were importantly affected by brand roots than the Indian consumers. This can be ascribed to the nature of the market and competition. The UK is a highly developed and mature luxury market wherein the masses have been exposed  to  the status brands  for  longer  in comparison  to India. The longer exposure and higher availability to global brands as well as the increased competition among producers makes the consumer in Britain progressively conscious of the brands and their symbolic connection.

The findings also indicate that status consumption among Indian consumers is highly dependent on social occasions. The finding proves the considerable divergences among collectivist and individualistic consumers and their luxury consumption practices. Earlier research has found that spending money on status consumption in festivities and social functions of importance lends many real and intangible payoffs in the Indian marketplace including enhanced social status for the consumers. Thus, in a collectivist marketplace like India, consuming flashy brands at special social functions can promote an individuals intra-group and inter-group social identity and broad presence. 


Source: Status consumption among British and Indian consumers

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Antecedents to customer confusion in FSIs



It is only the late 20th century financial  services institutions (FSIs) such as banks, insurance companies, investment firms started changing into a distinct shape entirely. Historically, a FSI catered to only banking services (i.e. mostly a place where one can deposit and draw money or suchlike assets). Moreover, banks changed their role in a short span of time from consumer banking to manifold FSIs (i.e. banking, mortgages, insurance, credit cards, capital and bond market services, internet banking, phone banking, investment finance, etc.). This revolutionary management of customer credit and customer debt had interesting implications for their selling financial  services.

Firstly, in seeking to address every corner of the envisaged legal problems, FSIs already had time-consuming contract papers. All The Same, with complex functions consumers were at once subjected to a combination of plenteous and contradictory data, an excessive amount of brand names, and product replications.

Secondly, this one-stop function philosophy was taken about to create relief in dealings. However, as the total of functions enlarged, the complexness did too. Moreover, on the other hand, it produced wild assurance within the customers regarding their financial  judgment. For Each One of the previously observed financial  functions call for distinct set of skills to handle them All The Same, a individualistic provider and one-stop-shopping made consumers reckon that capital and bond markets investitures were as easy as banking.

Researchers suggest that product diversity can have a significantly positive impression on consumer decision making All The Same, outcomes from data-based surveys found that over-choice and overcharge of information discourages clients from pursuing with a service supplier due to confusion over a products value.

The multiplicity of financial  functions, which produced the fake confidence, may have suchlike final results pertaining to consumer confusion and service value sound judgments as noticed in other industries where product proliferations took place. However, previous studies have not looked at consumer confusion in financial  service industries.

In a novel article, published in the association for consumer research conference, investigators (Dr. Paurav Shukla, Dr. Madhumita Banerjee and Dr. Phani Tej Adidam), undertook to conceptualise and through empirical observation test a model of customer confusion in financial  services sector.

The investigators noticed important impact of expectations, attribute confusion and information confusion on overall consumer confusion. The research paper discusses how such confusion can discourage consumers from engaging with a FSIs. It has far reaching significances with regard to attracting and keeping consumers for FSIs.

Increasing understanding of consumers and diminishing confusion is one of the fundamental objectives of any firm. Furthermore, in markets like financial  services, where numerous similarities of expectations, attributes and information subsist inside customer brains, reducing in customer confusion can become a source of competitive advantage. The framework utilised for this research study furnishes marketers with a first hand estimate of where and how customer confusion is caused. This will assist managers in optimizing their organizational resources to deal the multi-faceted phenomenon of customer confusion. Marketers treating consumer confusion as a single tier conception may find unwanted outcomes.

1. Antecedents to consumer confusion in Financial Services Industry

Comparing status consumption in the UK and India: Managerial Implications



In my earlier post ‘Status (luxury) consumption among British and Indian customers’, I discussed the theoretical implications relating to one of my recently published study in the International Marketing Review. In this post, I am going to focus on the managerial implications.

To briefly summarise the study, it focused on three antecedents to status consumption namely: (a) socio-psychological antecedents; (b) brand antecedents and (c) situational antecedents.

Customers buy and use status products/brands to assist them in achieving a particular goal and project a message about their self. The findings of the study show how and why customers engage with status products in different countries and cultures. The findings also demonstrate that several factors which were important predictors of status among the British customers were not significant predictors for the Indians, and vice versa. These findings have noteworthy implications for brand managers in developing a pertinent strategic action plan to engage customers with their brands in both developing markets and developed markets.

The findings suggest that creating an entirely standardized marketing strategy for status products/brands will prove ineffective due to the significant differences among customers between developed and developing markets. There is certainly a prospect to standardize some features of the marketing strategy across countries for status products/brands. However, the differences in consumption and the overall engagement also suggest the need for adaptation. For example, ostentation provides an opportunity to standardization strategic message across markets. However, adaptation is required when associating social gains, esteem indication, brand related features and the choice of situation for the strategic action plan.

Marketing status brands to British customers
For the British market, managers should focus on building a strategic campaign which demonstrates the brand as a way to ‘gain popularity’ and be ‘noticed by others’. Associating the brand with relevant celebrities who are seen as successful and high achievers could be of great help in the British market too. The brand should also focus strongly on developing a symbolism which is familiar and positively in congruence with the customers. To generate positive feelings towards the status brands, managers will have to be very creative in the British markets as the consumers are exposed to such brands for long and so are quite aware of their symbolic meaning. Several extrinsic cues in this regard can play an important role. For example, country of origin can play a substantial role in this regard. In their communication mix many status brands employ occasion specific consumption for the British market.  However, the results of this study suggest that such campaigns will have little effect in the British market. Therefore, managers should look for aforementioned suggestions to improve their standing in the market.

Marketing status brands to Indian customers
To market their status brands to Indian consumers, managers should position their brand solely on ostentation. Moreover, the strategic campaign should also focus on the occasion (situation) specificity. If managers can develop a brand message around occasions and ostentatious behaviour, they will have a higher chance of getting success in the Indian market. The branding efforts will not yield as effective a response in the Indian market in comparison to the British market. Therefore, managers will have to find ingenious ways to engage the Indian customers. For example, in the alcoholic beverage market, major international players such as Absolut and Brown-Forman are associating with vibrant art and music scene. On the other hand, big players like Diageo and United Breweries are focusing on the upwardly mobile population in the metros and mini metros of India by opening lounges. Diageo even plans to open Johnnie Walker Club & Lounge and Smirnoff Cafes in metros such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore and wishes to expand to 10 other cities in near future.

Thus, challenge for managers lies in creating a glocalised strategic action plan which incorporates a balanced mix of standardized as well as customized response to the market reality. This study provides actionable results for managers involved in marketing status products in developing the strategic action plan.


1. Status consumption among British and Indian consumers

Branding of Luxury Goods: Thinking about basics



Consumer think that they are special and different when using luxury brands and identify this with subtle signals. In this regards, it is imperative for luxury brands to keep at the forefront of the social trends. However, with mass-market brands gradually upgrading their appearance, strategic response and approach to marketing their products, many luxury brands are finding it hard to stay ahead of the peck.

In this scenario, many luxury brands have decided to move beyond their niche and diversify very quickly into other market spaces which the consumer may not associate with the specific luxury brand. The idea of brand extension and at times irrelevant diversification (i.e. moving away from one product category to another one) is particularly delicate issue for luxury brands. This is mostly due to the set ideas in consumer minds regarding luxury brands associations.

Many luxury brands have diversified successfully however on the other hand, many have struggled a lot and therefore this issue must be dealt with a lot of caution. For example, Prada’s move from shoes to handbags and then into ready-to-wear market worked every time. Gucci also was in the same category. However, it took many years for the first Bulgari watch to become a success. Big brands have lots of resources but small brands many not be able to conjure such long-term losses and therefore diversification can become a big bottleneck for them. For example, in 2005, Mattel decided to create Barbie-themed clothing and accessories and involved fashion designers such as Tarina Tarantino and Anna Sui to interpret Barbie’s wardrobe for grownups. Interestingly enough, it was suggested as one of the worst brand extensions of the year by BusinessWeek.  Another example of this is Audi in US market. Audi's sudden acceleration issue and product recalls 3 decades ago still haunts the brand.

I would recommend brand managers to think very carefully before focusing on brand extension or diversification. There are many other routes suggested by marketing experts which can be taken into account. For example, Ansoff's theoretical framework relating to product and market matrix can help brand managers in thinking of other ways in which brands can be taken further.

In the quadrant 1 where a company wishes to expand itself into its present local market, could focus on various ‘market penetration’ strategies by (a) increasing the frequency of usage; (b) increasing the quantity used and (c) identifying new application of the product. I believe the options, especially the options a and b should be used far more readily by brand managers.  This in itself can lead to higher market share and stronger customer loyalty.

The quadrant 2 which focuses on developing new products for the current markets does not mean diversification but instead looks at ‘product development’ strategies. In this case, luxury brands can focus on product improvements (highlight them in communications carefully) and line extensions (after careful market research rather than an insiders only brainstorming).

The quadrant 3 focuses on ‘market development’ strategies. In this case, luxury brands should focus on (a) geographic expansion and (b) target new segments. For each of these options, specific strategic initiatives are required. Such as, for geographic expansion, cultural proximity and market understanding are a must. Similarly, when targeting new segments, it would be desirable to identify those peripheral groups which take the current luxury brand consumers as their aspirational leaders.

The quadrant 4 relates to diversification. However, remember this is quadrant 4 of 4 and that means it should really be thought of as one of the last options. If growth has not been possible with the first 3 quadrant a luxury brand should focus on diversification. However, in my own experience, I have seen entrepreneurs/managers focusing this as their first option. While if done carefully it can provide significant benefit, it’s quite risky also as seen in earlier examples.

My aim in this article was to offer some alternative strategies for luxury branding rather than just thinking diversification. Going back to basics can always help any luxury branding effort and I hope it would ignite that thought in you.

Originally published at: Luxury branding back to basics 

Why luxury brands need to go back to basics?