Fan or Fanatic: A Measure of Consumer Devotion
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Abstract: In contemporary culture consumers increasingly exhibit public displays of loyalty and passion towards various brands and activities. Today consumers line up overnight for a Harry Potter book, wear clothing to represent their loyalty to Star Trek, travel across country to pay homage to Elvis, or collect related items. Consumer devotion goes beyond loyalty in that consumers find various ways to express their devotion in ways that affects their behavior. Andy Griffith fans may own every episode on tape and attend monthly fan club meetings, other fans may also make the annual pilgrimage to his home town in North Carolina, whereas more extreme fans may dress up to impersonate one of the show’s characters. The range of expression of a consumer’s devotion varies with the depth of their commitment. However, we have yet to fully understand and measure the level of devotion in order to predict to what extremes this dedication will affect their behavior. Both academic literature and popular press have written about many of these consumer groups. Researchers have suggested that participation and involvement in various activities and brands are caused by psychological motivations and lead to various levels of behavior ranging from casual fans to dysfunctional fanatics. However, a measure of the level of devotion and how it predicts behavior has been untapped. This study explores the reasons why consumers become devoted and how it impacts their behavior. Based on an iterative process of qualitative and quantitative methods, a scale is developed that captures a consumer’s passion and commitment towards a brand or experience. A multi-item consumer devotion scale is developed to capture the concept of this intense consumer passion which is termed consumer devotion – the state of commitment and dedication towards a brand or experience. This construct should be useful in the field of marketing as consumer behavior is ever changing and consumers are becoming more intensely devoted across many categories. The findings indicate that consumer devotion is a unidimensional construct and is related to consequences such as possession attachment and increased expertise. The results suggest that consumer devotion is a step in furthering understanding of consumptive behavior, and further research is warranted to validate the scale.