The goal of this research is to develop and validate a multi-dimensional scale measure of brand fidelity. This paper reports the rigorous process of scale development, through two separate studies involving 592 US consumers. Study 1 involves scale item generation, content validation and scale purification, while Study 2 involves a two-wave data collection method, evaluating the refined brand fidelity scale within a nomological network of relationships. The results demonstrate the 20-item brand fidelity scale to have strong construct validity as a first-order reflective, second-order formative scale. The findings suggest that if consumers engage in the behaviours/cognitions (as defined within the brand fidelity scale), then consumer/brand relationships are likely to be stable and predictable; are likely to endure the ravages of time; and, importantly, are likely to remain monogamous. For practitioners, the overall brand fidelity score can be used to track brand performance over time and for industry benchmarking purposes. Additionally, the measured brand fidelity dimensions provide specific direction upon which remedial marketing action can be implemented.
Well established in the literature is the notion that building strong and sustainable consumer/brand relationships is the cornerstone to contemporary marketing success. In fact, understanding how consumers respond to brands has dominated the marketing literature for decades. Early research was more product-focussed and centred around the understanding and measurement of customer satisfaction and perceived product performance (Anderson, 1973; Day, 1977), thus, providing insight into consumer response variables, through cognitive paradigms. The evolution of brand research, in the 80s and 90s, resulted in the focus turning to long-term consumer response variables, such as brand involvement (Beatty et al., 1988), brand loyalty (Amine, 1998), brand commitment (Morgan and Hunt, 1994) and, more recently, brand love (Albert and Merunka, 2013; Carroll and Ahuvia, 2006), underpinned by psychological and interpersonal theory. On this basis, Fournier and Yao (1997) were the first to proffer brands as ‘relationship partners’, with the view to understanding the dynamics of establishing stable and durable consumer/brand relationships. While it is important to have a thorough understanding of the complexities of consumer/brand relationships, the meaningful measurement of such relationships is paramount for brand practitioners to strategize effectively. However, the current literature does not offer clarity in this respect. Problems associated with the interchangeability of construct terms and definitions, the blurring of construct dimensional specifications (e.g. Rossiter, 2012 vs Batra et al., 2012), and the inconsistencies of nomological positioning (e.g. Albert and Merunka, 2013 vs Loureiro et al., 2012) plague the literature. In addition, the validity of data is highly dependent on the subjects’ (i.e. consumers) ability to self-report on psychological constructs that often have different meanings for different people (Gross and John, 1997). In an attempt to address these challenges, Grace et al. (2018) propose a focus on consumer/brand relationship maintenance behaviours as the potential key to effective measurement, over and above self-reported desires and emotions (e.g. brand commitment, brand love). It is on this basis, they coined the term “brand fidelity”, specified as a multi-dimensional cognitive and behavioural framework, which assists in understanding what consumers do when they are highly committed or in love with the brand (Grace et al., 2018).