Disruptive Technology in the Smartphones Industry: Identity Theory Perspective

Disruptive Technology in the Smartphones Industry: Identity Theory Perspective

Dominic Appiah (Arden University, UK), Wilson Ozuem (University of Cumbria, UK) and Kerry E. Howell (University of Plymouth, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7344-9.ch017

Abstract

The impact of identity on brand loyalty has taken precedence as an area of focus in recent marketing research. This has occurred in an era defined by technological revolution, which has created market disruptions, and there are implications for customer-brand relationships. Nonetheless, existing research has failed to acknowledge the impact of socio-psychological attributes and functional utility maximization. Knowledge that illuminates how firms can reposition themselves to sustain brand loyalty when disruptions occur in today's complex and globalized business environment is also required. The chapter presents an empirical investigation into the phenomenon of brand switching behavior among consumers in a specific competitive market, particularly in the smartphone industry. It explores how resistance could be built from an identity theory perspective, as emphasis has historically been placed on the functional utility of products at the expense of social meanings. This chapter provides consideration for market disruptions in the smartphone industry. It confirms that the literature does not capture other non-utilitarian factors such as socio-psychological benefits; hence, there are underlying factors that motivate consumers to continue buying brands they buy.
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Background And Rationale

The plethora of research on brand switching covers customer motivations to review available alternatives due to changes in competitive activities as a means to maximise the functional utility of product attributes and the marketing mix (Guadagni & Little, 1983; Seiders & Tigerts, 1997). Nonetheless, extant literature in this stream of research fails to acknowledge the impact of socio-psychological attributes besides functional utility maximisation. This chapter presents an empirical investigation into the phenomenon of brand switching behaviour of consumers in a competitive market, with implications for how resistance can be built from an identity theory perspective (Tajfel & Turner, 1979; Swait & Erdem 2007; Lam et al., 2013; Hsu & Liou, 2017; Appiah & Ozuem, 2017).

Much emphasis has been placed on the functional utility of products at the expense of social meanings. With the exceptions of product function, insufficient attention has been paid to socio-psychological attributes and personal and social meanings of brands. The assumption is that people are continually involved in social interactions and interpreting their constantly changing world. This chapter deviates from the conventional economic perspective of treating brand switching as functional utility maximisation (Guadagni & Little, 1983; Seiders & Tigerts, 1997), to treating brand switching as a consequence of social mobility between brand identities amongst consumers (Lam et al., 2013). The chapter seeks to investigate consumer identification with brands in the Smartphone industry across the United Kingdom. The Smartphone industry was chosen as the product category for this chapter because it represents a context in which brand switching is most likely to occur due to multiple alternatives and short inter-purchase frequencies (Campo et al., 2000; Goldsmith, 2000). Notably, the market for Smartphones is exceptionally dynamic, considering the degree and rate of change in technology. The extent of product innovation disrupting the Smartphone market is staggering (Azize Sahin et al., 2013; Cecere et al., 2015).

Existing literature on brand loyalty and identity theory is explored to examine the effects of identity on customer loyalty. Despite extensive studies on brand loyalty (Ozuem, Thomas & Lancaster, 2016; Appiah, Ozuem, & Howell, 2016; Giovanisa & Athanasopouloub, 2018), there has been little research on how market disruptions affect customerbrand relationships and how firms can reposition themselves to sustain brand loyalty when disruptions occur in today’s complex and globalised business environment (Lam et al., 2010; Appiah & Ozuem, 2017). Although loyalty literature provides rich and useful insight into customerbrand relationships, two limitations warrant further investigation:

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