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Hedonic or utilitarian: The influences of product type and reward type on consumer referral likelihood

Yimin Zhu (School of Business, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China)
Peipei Lin (Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China)

Journal of Contemporary Marketing Science

ISSN: 2516-7480

Article publication date: 14 August 2019

Issue publication date: 2 October 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how the product type (hedonic product and utilitarian product) and reward type (hedonic gift and utilitarian gift) influence customer referral likelihood in referral reward program.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors test the effect of the product type and reward type on referral likelihood through two studies. Study 1 produces a 2 (product type: hedonic product and utilitarian product) × 2 (reward type: hedonic gift and utilitarian gift) factorial design to test H1, H2 and H3, that is, the effect of the product type and reward type on referral likelihood and their interaction effect. On the basis of study 1, study 2 will select different subjects, different products and different incentive allocation schemes to test H1, H2 and H3 again.

Findings

The results are as follow: first, the product type has significant influences on referral likelihood. Compared with a utilitarian product, customers are more likely to make referrals when consuming a hedonic product. Second, the product type and reward type have significant interactions to referral likelihood. When rewarded a hedonic gift, customers who consumed the hedonic product have great willing to make referrals; however, when rewarded the utilitarian gift, customer who consumed the utilitarian product have great willing to make referrals.

Originality/value

The authors’ findings contribute to the literature of consumers’ recommendation in the following aspects. First, from the perspective of enterprises which launch referral reward program, the present research demonstrates the product type (hedonic product and utilitarian product) and reward type (hedonic gift and utilitarian gift) influence customer referral likelihood. Previous studies discuss attributes of product that influence consumers’ referral likelihood, such as product sensitivity (Kornish and Li, 2010), product involvement (Zhu et al., 2011), brand strength (Ryu and Feick, 2007) and price (Xiao et al., 2011). However, few studies focus on the hedonic and utilitarian attributes of products and explore their impact on the willingness to recommend. This paper makes a useful supplement to the research gap. Most previous studies simply divide the type of reward into tangible and intangible (Shi and Wojnicki, 2007), cash and coupon (Wang, 2010) or cash and gift (Huang et al., 2013). This paper enriches the research on reward types and refines the types of gifts in a referral reward program. The present research divides the type of reward into hedonic gifts and utilitarian gifts, and applies benefit congruency frameworks (Chandon et al., 2000), attitude theory (Eagly and Chaiken, 1993) and over-justification effect (Deci and Ryan, 1985).

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research is supported by research grants by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71672203) and Guangdong Natural Science Foundation (No. 2017A030313406).

Citation

Zhu, Y. and Lin, P. (2019), "Hedonic or utilitarian: The influences of product type and reward type on consumer referral likelihood", Journal of Contemporary Marketing Science, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 120-136. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCMARS-01-2019-0008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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