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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Bank Marketing, Volume 34, Issue 2.
The articles presented in this issue of the International Journal of Bank Marketing focus on three themes that are central to marketing activities of banks. These articles examine how customer interactions with financial services providers can be driven not only by rational customer interpretations of the relationship but also by the emotional aspects of the relationship. In addition, the articles featured in this issue examine the financial needs of the poor and how microcredit services providers can serve important societal goals that all financial institutions should aspire to. Finally, some of the articles in this issue focus on the challenges of relationship building, especially in light of financial turmoil and instability in the banking sector.
The first three articles in this issue of IJBM examine the degree by which emotions influence bank marketing effectiveness. In the first article, Levy and Hino examine how customers' emotional attachment to a financial services provider can affect both loyalty and customer satisfaction measures. Utilizing a large customer survey conducted in Israel, and a path analytic methodology the authors establish that emotional attachment can positively influence customer loyalty and indirectly influence customer satisfaction. This study is unique since it distinguishes the conscious path of cognition which influences customer satisfaction from the unconscious path mostly influenced by emotional responses. This line of inquiry is expanded in the second article in this issue of the journal, by Hauff, Carlander, Gamble, Garling and Holmen. In this article the authors examine how trust in a financial services provider who disseminates financial information influences customer intentions to invest in a mutual fund. The authors also examined the influence of narrative vs fact-related dissemination of financial information. Utilizing both laboratory and field experiments the study demonstrates that intentions to invest in a mutual fund are influenced more so by narrative rather than fact-based information. The findings highlight the great impact that the proper choice of narrative communications may have on financial decision making through the generation of positive affect and increased involvement in the presented financial communications.
The next article in this issue examines how perceptions of fairness influence consumers in light of the variety of distribution channel choices available to financial services providers. In this article Sekhon, Roy and Devlin, using the UK as the basis of study, examine four different but commonly utilized channels for distributing financial services. Having deployed a large-scale customer survey, the study findings indicate considerable differences in how different distribution channels are perceived, largely as a function of the degree of contact between the customer and the financial services provider. For example face-to-face interactions are more likely to be perceived as fair compared to remote interactions such as online banking. The study's findings have great implications on how customer interactions need to be prioritized across the various distribution channels available to financial services providers.
The next two articles in this issue of the journal have a unique focus on the needs of the poor. Jebarajakirthy and Thaichon focus on microcredit offerings and how self-identity may influence customer decisions related to microcredit offerings. This is an important undertaking since the volume of research focussing on the bottom of the pyramid customers is relatively limited. The authors focus on younger consumers' intentions to utilize microcredit services in an area that has been affected by war. Utilizing a large sample of younger consumers in Sri Lanka the study demonstrates that in addition to self-identity, factors such as positive affect, subjective norms and entrepreneurial intentions influence an individual's desire to use microcredit offerings. The article by Wulandari and Kassim expands the conversation surrounding the facilitation of financial solutions to the poor. Utilizing structured interviews with bank executives the authors identify the practical challenges that exist in providing financial services to the poor in Indonesia.
The next article in this issue of the journal focusses on customer experiences following the financial crisis, in the specific context of the financial services sector of Spain. In this article, Monferrer-Tirado, Estrada-Guillén, Fandos-Roig, Moliner-Tena and Garcia develop a model to examine how relationship quality between financial services providers and their customers is affected in an environment characterized by economic turmoil. The authors differentiate between functional quality of the service, and its emotional aspects. The findings indicate that functional quality has a direct impact on customer satisfaction and trust. In addition, tangible and personnel qualities may help to reinforce the functional aspects of service quality. The article by Borg, Vigerland and Winroth further examines issues related to relationship marketing. In it, the authors examine how formal ties and networks in the financial services marketplace influence relationship building. Utilizing data from the Swedish banking sector, and applying a correspondence analysis methodology, the authors demonstrate that the existence of formal ties can serve as a mechanism for improving the attractiveness of banking organizations.
The articles in this issue of the International Journal of Bank Marketing have demonstrated the complexity by which financial services marketers interact with their customers. While the functional aspects of how a financial institution serves its customers has been known to influence customer satisfaction, the effects of factors such as emotions and trust still remain to be further explored by researchers. Furthermore, the social responsibility that banking institutions have in serving all segments of the population demands that more research be conducted to help us understand the financial needs and preferences of the poor. In addition, the challenges of relationship building that characterize financial services marketing demand that more research be conducted on the intricate details that influence customer perceptions of the marketing activities of banks. It is noteworthy that the articles presented in this issue of IJBM have not only advanced our understanding of these issues, but they have also had a large international representation, covering countries such as Indonesia, Israel, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden and the UK. These articles demonstrate both the global challenges facing bank marketers, and the willingness of researchers to improve our understanding of these important marketing challenges.