Journal of Marketing Analytics

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 220–233 | Cite as

The digital self and customer loyalty: from theory to virtual reality

  • Jared Bischoff
  • Orie BerezanEmail author
  • Lorenzo Scardicchio
Original Article


As digital technologies become deeply integrated into everyday life, consumers have become increasingly connected to the ‘digital sphere,’ and businesses have sought ways in which to capitalize upon this growing trend. This work aims to bring Belk’s (J Consum Res 15(2):139–168,1988) seminal theory of self-development into present day by connecting its concepts with those of customer loyalty formation, highlighting how a modernization of this theory explains the means by which present-day customers are forming attachments to digital goods and the brands and companies associated with them. Through analysis of both historical and current literature regarding self-development, self-expression, and object attachment, we explore how consumers form connections to digital possessions, and how this process has evolved alongside the growing technological integration of daily life. Armed with this knowledge, we offer three propositions on how digital self-development will affect the marketplace, electronic word-of-mouth and customer loyalty in the future, and the opportunities in marketing analytics research to develop more accurate, nuanced metrics that can better encompass relevant aspects of consumers’ digital selves. Our intent is to expand upon existing loyalty literature by explaining how attachment is formed with digital objects, and highlight both the challenges and opportunities this creates in loyalty marketing analytics.


Extended self Digital self Customer loyalty Object attachment Social media Electronic word-of-mouth 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jared Bischoff
    • 1
  • Orie Berezan
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lorenzo Scardicchio
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NevadaLas VegasUSA
  2. 2.College of Business Administration and Public PolicyCalifornia State UniversityCarsonUSA

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