A Cup of Coffee with a Dash of Love: An Investigation of Commercial Social Support and Third-Place Attachment

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This study introduces theory about how deficits in social support motivate consumers to replace lost social resources by forming relationships with customers and employees in commercial “third places.” The authors demonstrate support for a multiple-indicator, multiple-cause model that illustrates how six common events that destroy or erode a person’s social support can cause the person to obtain emotional support and companionship in a third place. The model supports the linkage between commercial social support and a consumer’s sense of attachment to a third place that harbors his or her social support network. The authors also propose and test hypotheses that reveal that consumers obtain social support in a third place to the extent to which they lost it outside the place. In essence, third-place patrons match their lost support to their commercial support, thus remedying negative symptoms associated with isolation. The article concludes with a discussion of managerial implications and limitations.