Spoiled rotten: how and when discontinuation of repetitive and regular delight offers increases customer desire for revenge

Yi Li, Elena Fumagalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Retailers often delight their customers with surprise offers. Common wisdom would suggest that this practice is fruitful because customer delight elicits customer reciprocation and increases customer satisfaction. This research examines the negative consequences of offering such delight offers. Across five studies, customers receiving delight offers repetitively and on a regular basis develop a sense of entitlement. Once retailers decide to discontinue those offers, feelings of entitlement prompt customers to seek revenge against the retailer (e.g., filing complaints, switching to competitors, spreading negative word of mouth). Furthermore, customer expectation has been ruled out as an alternative process explanation. Even though customer entitlement and customer expectation are often confounded in the literature, our research offers conceptual and empirical evidence to illustrate the fundamental differences between these two concepts. Our results indicate that retailers could avoid elevating customer entitlement by designing delight offers as one-time offers or by delivering multiple offers following a random pattern. Additionally, we show that retailers can also limit the effect of customer entitlement on customers’ desire for revenge by providing offers of small monetary value and by explicitly communicating that the offer recipients are selected at random.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Retailing
Early online date20 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Delight offers
  • Customer delight
  • Customer entitlement
  • Customer expectation
  • Customer revenge

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