The role of place attachment in offline and online retail stores
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As the online environment in the retail context has substantially grown managers are keen on finding new ways to commit customers to their stores. Place attachment has begun to emerge in the marketing literature as a possibility to hold on to and cherish customers. The role of place attachment in commercial settings is still a bit vague. Researchers and managers have yet to discover the effects that place attachment could have on consumers' behavioral outcomes. Thus, the purpose of this study is to elaborate the term place attachment in the retail context and investigate the effect it has on the switching intentions of consumers. This study was executed in both the offline and the online shopping environments. Place attachment consists of three dimensions which are place identity, place dependence and social bonds. This study examines the effects of these three dimensions on the switching intentions of consumers. These relationships are further investigated through moderating effects of the shopping environment, and thus the offline and online contexts are compared with each other. The study was conducted with four multi-channel retail stores, of which three are Finnish and one is Swedish. Quantitative approach was selected for this study. The data (N=1169) was gathered through a marketing company's panel, and the analyses were carried out using SPSS Statistics and AMOS for structural equation modelling. Based on the results of this study, place dependence was the only dimension to have a significant, negative effect on the switching intentions of consumers. Place identity had a minor effect on the outcome, and social bonds had no effect at all. When comparing the shopping environments place dependence had a significant difference between them. In the offline environment, place dependence had a significant, negative effect on the switching intentions of consumers but in the online environment, no effect was found. Place identity and social bonds did not differ between the two environments. ...
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