As an important emotion state that effectively connects the relationship between enterprises and customers, customer gratitude not only helps to stimulate customers’ emotion and cognition mechanism, but also drives them to perform repaying behavior. Hence, scholars have recently conducted significant research on customer gratitude, which aims to inquiry the sustainability relationship between enterprises and customers. In order to clarify the development of customer gratitude, the present study systematically reviews the previous research findings. Firstly, according to the different concept definition of customer gratitude in the existing research, this paper divides them into four categories, namely, attribution perspective, cognitive perspective, moral perspective and exchange perspective. The definitions under different perspectives are not only different in the source and connotation, but also incompatible with each other. Considering these deficiency, this study makes a relatively complete definition including three structures（affective, cognition and behavior）. Specifically, the present study defines customer gratitude as a positive emotional state that can promote customers to return, which stems from the recognition that enterprises or employees provide benefits to people. Secondly, marketing scholars have developed two customer gratitude scales, namely, affective-behavior scale and affective-cognition-behavior scale. However, by summing up the measure tools in existing empirical research, this study finds that the single factor scale in the field of psychology is more popular than others. In view of these scales, they are either incomplete in connotation or confined on the scope of application. Furthermore, the present study summarizes the antecedent outcome variables from three aspects of enterprise, employee and customer. In particular, from the perspective of enterprises, relationship marketing investment, social responsibility and the benefits provided by enterprises are the primary factors to promote customer gratitude. Meanwhile, employees’ altruistic behavior and customers’ cognitive appraisal will also affect the generation of customer gratitude. Not only that, this study also pays attention to the outcome variables of customer gratitude and inquires into the relationship between customer gratitude and customer psychological response. Through the material collecting summary, we find that customer gratitude not only affects the cognition of relationship between customers and the external environment, but also triggers the positive behavior in favor of enterprises, employees and society. More importantly, on the basis of the above viewpoints, this study constructs a comprehensive model of antecedents and consequences concerning customer gratitude, in which the relevant relationships are all from the conclusions of existing empirical research. Finally, this study prospects the future research directions of concepts, antecedents and consequences, and extensible customer gratitude theme, and puts forward innovative and constructive thinking. Overall, this study can provide advice for domestic marketing practice and theory.
A Literature Review of Customer Gratitude and Future Prospects
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 43, Issue 02, pp. 68 - 83 (2021) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.20200803.301
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Cite this article
Tu Hongwei, Zhang Zhihui, Ma Jianfeng. A Literature Review of Customer Gratitude and Future Prospects[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2021, 43(2): 68-83.