Non-Compliance Is a Double-Edged Sword: An Abstract
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One of the most important premises in the field of marketing is the satisfaction of consumer needs and desires (Kotler and Armstrong 2010). While an employee’s capacity to attend to customer desires has always been critical to organization’s competitiveness, consumers of today expect companies to meet their customized requests like never before (Chandler and Lusch 2015). Considering this premise, over the last decade a body of literature has focused on understanding how to increase employee capacity to attend consumers’ desires (Kearney et al. 2017). This research explores the consequences to managers’ willful non-compliance with consumers’ desires. We propose that if consumers judge the producer as having high (low) expertise, the non-compliance will increase (decrease) consumers’ perception of how much effort was dedicated to product creation, thus increasing (decreasing) product evaluation and willingness to pay. We test the proposed intuition with three studies.
In Study 1 participants (N = 107; Mage = 35.33, 48.6% female) were randomly assigned to two scenarios following their modification of a dish component request: “She tells you that the change can affect the dish integrity because all dishes are extensively and carefully though by the chef. She apologizes and tells you that the restaurant can’t do the changes [She tells you that if you want she will manage to do it].” Participants who read the non-compliance scenario judged the food as tastier (Mnon-compliance = 7.57 vs. Mcompliance = 6.98, F(1,105) = 9.458, p < 0.01) and were willing to pay more for the same (Mnon-compliance = 35.91 vs. Mcompliance = 27.00, F(1,105) = 5.866, p < 0.05) in comparison to consumers who read the compliance scenario.
Study 2 replicates our findings but also shows that the effect of non-compliance is dependent on producer expertise. Specifically, when the producer had low expertise, the non-compliance decreased taste inferences (Mnon-compliance = 6.73 vs. Mcompliance = 7.35, F(1,175) = 4.61, p < 0.05) and did not influence willingness to pay (Mnon-compliance = 24.02 vs. Mcompliance = 21.71, F(1,166) = 0.56, p > 0.1). However, when the chef had high expertise, non-compliance increased taste inferences (Mnon-compliance = 8.13 vs. Mcompliance = 7.52, F(1,175) = 4.55, p < 0.05) and willingness to pay (Mnon-compliance = 32.42 vs. Mcompliance = 27.32, F(1,166) = 4.14, p < 0.05). Study 3 shows the same pattern on effect from non-compliance in a different context, fashion industry.
This research has several contributions. First, we show that employees’ ability to translate the production process is important beyond attending consumer requests. We discuss the practical implications for adopting a no-substitution policy. Managers should consider adopting the no-substitution policy if they believe substitution could compromise the value of their product.