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Accentuate the positive: how identity affects customer satisfaction

Tilottama Ghosh Chowdhury (Department of Marketing and Advertising, School of Business, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT, USA)
Kalpesh Kaushik Desai (School of Management, State University of New York, Binghamton, NY, USA)
Lisa Bolton (Department of Marketing, Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 11 August 2014




The purpose of this research is to address an important gap in identity research – how does consumer identity affect satisfaction following an unambiguous product experience.


Two experiments were conducted involving a product experience scenario and a service recovery encounter.


Study results demonstrate that experience valence moderates the impact of identity on customer satisfaction. Specifically, we find that identity improves satisfaction with a positive (but does not increase dissatisfaction with a negative) experience, and this effect arises via enhanced performance perceptions under positive experience rather than expectations.

Research limitations/implications

Our research investigates whether the prior research argument that identity is a powerful and “sticky” source of brand evaluation is robust to product experience. Specifically, we extend the disconfirmation paradigm of satisfaction by identifying identity as a driver of satisfaction and by testing whether identity effects emerge via biased perceptions of performance or altered expectations.

Practical implications

Our findings offer interesting managerial implications in terms of using identity marketing to enhance customer satisfaction with positive experiences and to increase the effectiveness of recovery from brand failures, but identity marketing cannot shield a brand from negative product experience.


To our knowledge, this research is first to demonstrate the joint effects of identity and experience information on satisfaction using two different identities and settings.



All three authors contributed equally to the research. Order of authorship was determined randomly.


Ghosh Chowdhury, T., Desai, K.K. and Bolton, L. (2014), "Accentuate the positive: how identity affects customer satisfaction", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 371-379.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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