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Shortsighted sales or long-lasting loyalty?: The impact of salesperson-customer proximity on consumer responses and the beauty of bodily boundaries
University of Agder, Norway.ORCID-id: 0000-0002-0283-8777
Karlstads universitet, Fakulteten för humaniora och samhällsvetenskap (from 2013), Handelshögskolan (from 2013). Karlstads universitet, Fakulteten för humaniora och samhällsvetenskap (from 2013), Centrum för tjänsteforskning (from 2013).ORCID-id: 0000-0002-8520-0006
Linköping University.ORCID-id: 0000-0003-0582-3324
Aarhus University, Denmark.ORCID-id: 0000-0002-7039-4565
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2023 (Engelska)Ingår i: European Journal of Marketing, ISSN 0309-0566, E-ISSN 1758-7123, Vol. 57, nr 7, s. 1854-1885Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose Previous research on salesperson-customer proximity has yielded mixed results, with some studies documenting positive proximity effects on shopping responses and others demonstrating the reverse. To reconcile such mixed findings, this paper aims to test whether and how salesperson proximity influences a series of key customer outcomes in actual retail settings using sample sizes that are considerably larger than most former investigations. Design/methodology/approach We conducted two high-powered field studies (N = 1,312) to test whether salesperson-customer proximity influences consumers' purchase behavior and store loyalty. Moreover, we investigated whether the short-term effects on purchase behavior were moderated by the extent to which the consumption context had a clear connection to consumers' own bodies. Findings Salesperson proximity increased purchase incidence and spending in consumption contexts with a bodily basis (e.g. clothes, beauty, health), suggesting that consumers "buy their way out" in these contexts when a salesperson is violating their personal space. If anything, such proximity had a negative impact on consumers' purchase behavior in contexts that lacked a clear bodily connection (e.g. building materials, furniture, books). Moreover, the link between proximity and consumer responses was mediated by discomfort, such that a salesperson standing close-by (vs farther away) increased discomfort, with negative downstream effects on shopping responses. Importantly, the authors found opposite proximity effects on short-term metrics (purchase incidence and spending) and long-term outcomes (store loyalty). Research limitations/implications Drawing on the nonverbal communication literature and theories on processing fluency, the current work introduces a theoretically relevant boundary condition for the effects of salesperson-customer proximity on consumers' purchase behavior. Specifically, the bodily basis of the consumption context is discussed as a novel moderator, which may help to explain the mixed findings in this stream of research. Practical implications Salesperson-customer proximity may serve as a strategic sales tactic to improve short-term revenue in settings that are closely tied to consumers' own bodies and characterized by one-time purchases. However, as salesperson proximity was found to be associated with lower store loyalty, irrespective of whether the shopping setting had a bodily basis, the risk of violating consumers' personal space may have costly consequences from a long-term perspective. Originality/value The present field studies make three central contributions. First, we introduce a novel moderator for proximity effects in various sales and service settings. Second, we test the focal hypotheses with much higher statistical power than most existing proximity studies. Finally, we document that salesperson-customer proximity ironically yields opposite results on short-term metrics and long-term outcomes, thus underscoring the importance of not solely focusing on sales effectiveness when training frontline employees.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2023. Vol. 57, nr 7, s. 1854-1885
Nyckelord [en]
Consumer behavior, Service encounter, Field study, Bodily basis, Physical proximity
Nationell ämneskategori
Företagsekonomi
Forskningsämne
Företagsekonomi
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-92315DOI: 10.1108/EJM-04-2022-0250ISI: 000867886100001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-92315DiVA, id: diva2:1707031
Tillgänglig från: 2022-10-28 Skapad: 2022-10-28 Senast uppdaterad: 2023-06-12Bibliografiskt granskad

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Otterbring, TobiasSamuelsson, PeterArsenovic, Jasenko

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Otterbring, TobiasSamuelsson, PeterArsenovic, JasenkoElbaek, Christian T.
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Handelshögskolan (from 2013)Centrum för tjänsteforskning (from 2013)
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