Consumer territorial responses in service settings

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Date of Original Version



Purpose: Customers can be territorial, which results in reactive behaviors that can hurt firm profitability. This study aims to expand the typology of customer territorial responses previously identified in the environmental psychology and marketing literature. Design/methodology/approach: The authors use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative approaches. The exploratory studies elicit and test a typology of consumer territorial responses using critical incident technique and factor analysis. Two surveys use the typology. Study 1 examines intrusiveness in grocery store settings. Study 2 expands the model with specialty store shoppers to examine how rapport, employee greed, entitlement and time pressure interact with intrusion pressure and relate to customer territorial responses. Findings: The results indicate a new category of territorial responses – deferential verbalizations – and show relationships between intrusion pressure and deferential actions, retaliatory verbalizations, retaliatory actions and abandonment. The relationships are affected by the moderators, including rapport, which interacts with intrusion pressure to increase the likelihood of switching. Research limitations/implications: Collecting data near closing time restricted observations and consumer time to participate using self-report data. The results should be replicated with other populations and service providers. Practical implications: Managers should monitor customer treatment during closing time. The results indicate consumer responses to closing time cues not only impact their shopping trip but also affect whether they will patronize the store in the future. Originality/value: The study provides an expanded typology of territorial responses, identifies moderating factors that may affect responses and links employee intrusiveness and territorial responses to store patronage.

Publication Title

Journal of Services Marketing