Purpose – The satisfaction‐trust paradigm has been recently criticized regarding its ability to deliver positive consumer behavioral outcomes. This study aims to argue that – amongst others – a reason for this unpleasant situation may be the failure of service managers to account for non‐linearities in the satisfaction‐trust paradigm. Design/methodology/approach – The setting for this study was the supermarket retail channel. A total of 942 respondents were “intercepted” in supermarket stores, employing a face‐to‐face personal interviewing method. For the detection of curvilinear effects the study employed the two‐step single indicant method of Ping. Findings – It is posited that consumer trust is an important intervening variable through which non‐linear service evaluation effects translate into word‐of‐mouth. Findings imply that investing resources in satisfaction programs do not do a good job in building positive word‐of‐mouth from a point on. Economic value evaluations and trust judgments seem to be both necessary and sufficient conditions for building consumer relationships. Research limitations/implications – Theoretically, the work extends the relationship marketing research stream suggesting that curvilinear mechanisms are likely present in the well accepted satisfaction‐trust paradigm. Limitations of the study relate to the generalization of the findings in other sectors besides grocery retailing and its cross‐sectional nature. Practical implications – The findings of this study suggest that relationship marketing managers would be ill‐advised in their investment decisions should they use a linear‐only terms trust model. Originality/value – This article extends the trust literature in that it investigates whether consumer trust suffers from diminishing returns. Service providers who strive to build long‐term relationships with their customers may not do a good job if they continue to invest in trust determinants that present diminishing returns to scale.
Journal of Services Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 13, 2011
Keywords: Trust; Word‐of‐mouth; Satisfaction; Economic value; Curvilinear mechanisms; Grocery retailing; Supermarkets; Consumer behaviour