Customer psychological ownership refers to the state in which customers feel as though the target （products, brands and firms etc.） of ownership or a piece of that target is " theirs”, emphasizing the possessive core of the targets related to consumption. Customer psychological ownership is beyond the actual ownership, being considered to be the root of the endowment effect and having an impact on product valuation and purchase intention. It is on the highest stair of the customer relationship developing ladder, connected with the most stable and profitable customers, and has a significant impact on customer loyalty and customer citizenship behavior. Based on a literature review of customer psychological ownership at home and abroad, this paper sorts out current research achievements in aspects such as concept, origin and measurement, antecedents, and effects. Future research directions and theoretical applications in domains of customization, B2B relationship, local branding and advertising are also proposed. Although the empirical research on customer psychological ownership began in 2008, the phenomenon has been paid attention to by a number of scholars in the earlier ten years ago, referred to as customer cooperator, brand ownership, customers becoming marketers, pre-factual ownership, pseudo endowment effect, etc. However, because there has not been unified appellation and measurement of the concept for a long time, no real research progress has been achieved in this field except some sporadic mention of the phenomenon. Breakthrough progress in research on customer psychological ownership hasn’t been made until the concept of psychological ownership was clearly defined, measured and empirically researched in organizational behavior domain. Such progress stimulates empirical research on customer psychological ownership which in turn deeply affects research on product valuation and customer relationship. In general, customer psychological ownership is considered to be a single dimensional concept involving product psychological ownership and brand psychological ownership when referring to different objects, and involving individual psychological ownership and collective psychological ownership when referring to different subjects. Measurement of customer psychological ownership is mainly based on subjects’ sense of object ownership. For example, measurement of product psychological ownership is mainly based on an individual sense of ownership and measurement of brand psychological ownership is mainly based on a collective sense of ownership. Two streams of research investigate factors influencing customer psychological ownership. On the one hand, based on the roots of psychological ownership in Pierce etc （2003）’s theoretical framework, impacts of control, self-investment and sense of belonging on customer psychological ownership are studied. On the other hand, based on the similarity between psychological ownership and endowment effects, impacts of related factors of legal ownership are studied, such as ownership duration, value ranking （ascending or descending）, exchange experience and focuses （money or product benefits）. The effect of customer psychological ownership is reflected in two aspects: increasing product valuation and enhancing positive attitude and positive behavior. On the one hand, from the endowment effect perspective, research focusing on exchange marketing indicates that customer psychological ownership has a positive impact on valuation and willingness to pay. On the other hand, from the perspective of possession psychology, research indicates that customer psychological ownership has a positive impact on product attitude, product attachment, customer engagement, customer loyalty and customer citizenship behavior. Through a critical review of the relevant literature on customer psychological ownership, we find that although some progress is achieved in this field, there exist many problems that need to be resolved by future research, for example, the disagreement on the definition and measurement of customer psychological ownership, lack of research on some important antecedents and outcomes, lack of research on how to establish customer psychological ownership in local product branding, product customization, advertising and B2B relationship.
A Literature Review of Customer Psychological Ownership and Prospects
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 02, pp. 105 - 122 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.02.008
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Cite this article
Kou Yan, Gao Min, Zhu Yanhan, et al. A Literature Review of Customer Psychological Ownership and Prospects[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(2): 105-122.