Consumer loyalty is a much-pursued relationship that businesses attempt to develop for long-term sustainability and profitability (Jacoby, 1971; Oliver, 1997). This phenomenon has psychological, technical, economic, or contractual elements but is primarily composed of behavioral and attitudinal components. Although many companies attempt to bridge this consumer/company relationship through loyalty programs, most such programs fail (Divett, Crittenden, & Henderson, 2003). There is a distinction between behavioral loyalty and attitudinal loyalty. Whereas the former refers to re-purchase behaviors in response to marketing stimuli (e.g. loyalty programs), the latter refers to deep-seated commitment and identification to the brand itself (Moore & Sekhon, 2005). There is emotional bonding with attitudinal loyalty in which a consumer bonds with a specific brand that separates it from other brands. This bonding not only fosters competitive advantage but also elicits the consumer to be an evangelizer of the brand (i.e. the organization). This attitudinal loyalty is observed in the six constructs described in this study; organizational identification, approachability and responsiveness, trust, group affiliation and socialization, identification and sense of belonging, and proselytizing. Apple Inc. (Apple) is one of the few iconic companies that has fostered and nurtured its consumer loyalty and is matched by very few companies. Apple consumers are fanatical about their organizational attachment and espouse an attitudinal loyalty extending beyond the products and extend into the brand itself. This attachment separates the "brand community" from a "brand cult," which is defined when an individual's perception of his or her sense of identity to a group of individuals (Acosta & Devasagayam, 2010). This study describes the phenomenon of "Apple loyalty" and the lived experiences and meaning of Apple users and the essence of their fandom and organizational attachment to Apple. By understanding these elements and experiences, other companies can set forth strategies to foster similar "fandom" reactions, greater attitudinal loyalty, and ensure long-term viability and profitability (Jacoby, 1971).
|Subjects||Marketing; Behavioral psychology; Management|
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