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Söderlund, Magnus

My research comprises consumer behavior, and I am interested in consumers’ reactions to marketing stimuli, such as encountering a sales person, interacting with a service worker, being in a store environment, and marketing communications. Examples of reactions in my studies are customer satisfaction, loyalty, emotions, justice perceptions, attitudes, and intentions. These reactions mirror the broad view of “behavior” in consumer research: psychological reactions, and thus not only behavior as it is manifested in observable activities, are important for our understanding of what it means to be a consumer (and a marketer) in a society increasingly obsessed with consumption.

Customer satisfaction, a popular construct in both academic research and in marketing practice, has been the point of departure for several of my specific studies. Satisfaction is a post-purchase evaluation construct, and it thus requires that the consumer has experienced an offer before the evaluation can be made. A satisfied state of mind is assumed to lead to many benefits for a firm (particularly loyalty). By definition, however, satisfaction is a somewhat stale and lukewarm state. My argument in examining satisfaction is therefore that there must by also other post-purchase reactions, which are more thrilling and arousing from the customer’s point of view – and capable of producing stronger effects on loyalty and other outcome variables. Indeed, as I have discovered, other reactions do exist, such as joy and excitement. And as goal variables for marketers, they offer alternatives for the firm wanting to differentiate itself in an era in which many firms are concerned with managing the customers’ impressions of an offer or a brand.

In conceptual terms, these alternative reactions are often emotions, and they represent another aspect of my research interests. Emotions have one interesting characteristic: they can be evoked easily, in fact almost automatically, by modest clues “leaking out” from marketing stimuli. For example, my studies show that the facial expression and the physical attractiveness of the service worker with whom the customer interacts, and activities carried out by peripheral customers who happen to be present in the store environment, indeed have an impact on the customer’s emotions. And in the next step, emotions provide fuel for overall evaluations and decisions. Emotions, then, in my mind, deserve a more prominent place in models of evaluations, choices, and decision making, yet in many existing research streams they are often seen as primitive reactions unworthy of the researcher’s interest.

Currently, I am particularly interested in effects on customers who are engageged in face-to-face encounters with firm representatives (i.e., human beings). My most recent book, Kundmötet (Liber, 2012), deals with this. I keep a blog with the same theme; you can find this blog here: http://kundmotet.wordpress.com/

Magnus Söderlund

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