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  • 标题:Impact of customers' personality traits in retail environments.
  • 作者:Anitsal, M. Meral ; Anitsal, Ismet
  • 期刊名称:Academy of Strategic Management Journal
  • 印刷版ISSN:1544-1458
  • 出版年度:2009
  • 期号:January
  • 出版社:The DreamCatchers Group, LLC

Impact of customers' personality traits in retail environments.


Anitsal, M. Meral ; Anitsal, Ismet


INTRODUCTION

Nobody looks forward to waiting in line to receive a service. Almost everybody would likely agree that waiting in line is both frustrating and unproductive. Katz, Larson and Larson (1991) found that, as waiting time increases, customer satisfaction decreases. As the shortage of time increasingly becomes a norm for a typical modern day shopper, even "short waits seem longer and more wasteful to them than ever before" (p. 44). How do individual responses to waiting in line differ?

Waiting at a Retail Encounter

In a service setting, there are three stages of waiting: before service production, during the service delivery, and after service consumption (Taylor, 1994). Pre-service waiting is the most dissatisfying stage of the three, partly due to the increase in uncertainty and anger created by the delay in service production. However, the actual waiting time may be drastically shorter than the customer's perceived waiting time, because anger and uncertainty affect the perception of time and service quality.

On the other hand, there are times when customers do not mind waiting. Maister (1985) theorized that customers would be willing to wait longer if the service they were waiting for was perceived to be important and valuable. Group waiting, in contrast to solo waiting, also seemed to have a positive influence on customer satisfaction with waiting time.

Unfortunately, there is limited empirical research in this area (Swaidan, Smith, & Honeycott, 2002). Extant literature indicates that situational factors may be instrumental in shaping perceptions of waiting time. Customers, for example, may feel and act differently in a situation involving waiting for a doctor's appointment compared to waiting in a store checkout line.

Grewal, Baker, Levy, and Voss (2002) found that store crowdedness and wait expectations had a direct negative effect on store patronage. If customers expected that they would have to wait too long at a store, they were less likely to shop there, especially when in the cases of fast food and casual dining restaurants, special events, and amusement parks. For the current study, the investigators looked at four different wait situations--a doctor's office, a checkout line, a restaurant queue, and a special event.

Control over Retail Situation

One of the unique characteristics of services is that customers are usually active participants in the production and consumption of the service (Zeithaml, Parasuraman, & Berry, 1985). Co-production of a service gives customers some control over the process. Vargo and Lusch (2004) suggest that service firms need to build competitive advantage around this unique feature.

Jaworski and Kohli (2006) emphasized the importance of dialogue during the co-production of services. Co-production and dialogue indicate that customers are actively engaged in the production process. Their presence increases the likelihood that customers will take corrective actions, when necessary, to ensure that their services are satisfactory. Empirical research is scarce on the topic of customer intervention in the service production process.

Technological developments in self-checkout systems have pushed even more of the responsibility for the production of retail service to customers. Nowadays, the average grocery shopper does almost everything herself/ himself, including unloading items from the shopping cart to the moving belt, scanning, bagging, paying off electronically, and taking purchases to the car. The adoption of technology-based self-service (TBSS) checkouts has gained momentum among retailers (Dabholkar, Bobbitt, & Lee, 2003). In this co-production environment, do customers willingly participate in this trend and produce the grocery shopping service almost solely by themselves? What type of customers are they? What are the personality characteristics (traits) of these customers?

Personality Traits

Personality traits have been shown to influence consumer behavior. For this reason, personality testing has been used not only in consumer research, but also for employment assessments in retailing (Chang, 2006; Licata, Mowen, Harris, & Brown, 2003; Periatt, Chakrabarty, & Lemay, 2007). Therefore, customers' personalities may be expected to influence how they perceive and respond to waiting in line and taking control of a retail situation. This focus of this investigation is whether the personality traits of extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness have an effect on customer behavior in these retail situations.

Extraversion versus Introversion

Extraversion is characterized by outgoing, talkative, sociable and assertive behavior (Tubbs & Schulz, 2006). Extraverts often engage in "actions [that are] directed toward obtaining power and dominance" (Barrick, Stewart, & Piotrowski, 2002, p. 44). In a retail situation that requires waiting, extraverts may be more likely to act toward shorten the waiting time for themselves by showing their need for attention and social interaction (Hurley, 1998). This premise forms the basis for the first hypothesis (see below).

H1: Customers who rate themselves higher on extraversion will have lower tolerance for waiting in retail situations.

In situations where customers need to take charge in order to control outcomes, extraverts will have few problems speaking their minds or taking action. Introverts, on the other hand, will be more reserved and less likely to take charge (Hurley, 1998). This premise is expressed by the second hypothesis.

H2: Customers who rate themselves higher on extraversion will have less trouble taking charge in case of unwanted retail outcome.

Introverts, who are typically more reserved and withdrawn in social interactions, may be more likely to prefer the use of self-checkout systems, so that they may avoid unnecessary social interactions. The third hypothesis expresses this premise.

H3: Customers who rate themselves lower on extraversion will prefer to use self-checkout systems.

Agreeableness versus Antagonism

The personality trait of agreeableness is related to the need for pleasant, cooperative and harmonious relations. Agreeable people are courteous, flexible, tolerant and forgiving. By contrast, people who display low levels of agreeableness tend to be more competitive in their day-to-day activities. Periatt, Chakrabarty, and Lemay (2007) concluded that individuals scoring high on agreeableness have strong intentions for "communion striving (p.29)" and the need to get along with others. The fourth, fifth, and sixth hypotheses are based on the above premises.

H4: Customers who rate themselves higher in agreeableness will have higher tolerance for waiting in retail situations.

H5: Customers who rate themselves higher in agreeableness will have more trouble in taking charge of the unwanted retail outcome.

H6: Customers who rate themselves higher in agreeableness will prefer to use staffed checkout lanes.

Conscientiousness versus Non-Conscientiousness

The personality trait of conscientiousness is characterized by diligence and organization (Harris & Fleming, 2005). Conscientiousness is described by words like "precise," "efficient," "orderly," and "persistent." Conscientious individuals generally do not like the idea of spending a lot of time in waiting lines, since it is perceived to be inefficient. Similarly, their orderliness may motivate them to immediately intervene in retail services to bring about desirable outcomes. These premises are expressed in the seventh and eighth hypotheses.

H7: Customers who rate themselves higher in conscientiousness will have low tolerance for waiting in retail situations.

H8: Customers who rate themselves higher in conscientiousness will have less trouble in taking charge of the unwanted retail outcome.

Achievement-oriented, organized individuals may also appreciate the efficiency afforded by self-checkout systems. These systems may be more accommodating to their personal needs, for instance, by organizing purchases in categories such as food or personal care, or by providing multiple receipt requirements or payment options (i.e., simultaneous use of coins, paper money, or credit/ debit cards). Hence, the ninth hypothesis is stated below.

H9: Customers who rate themselves higher in conscientiousness will prefer to use self-checkout systems.

A review of the literature found that there is general agreement on the operationalized definitions of extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Other dimensions of personality were more controversial. For example, openness to experience was defined in some cases as being intellectual, imaginative, curious and broadminded (Tubbs & Schulz, 2006) and in others as experiencing the world as threatening and beyond one's control (Hurley, 1998), or solving problems through creativity.(Harris & Fleming, 2005). Similar inconsistencies were found with regard to neuroticism or emotional stability. Therefore, this current investigation focused on the first three personality traits (extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness), which have been clearly and consistently operationalized in previous research.

METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS

The data for this study came from a survey of undergraduate business students in their junior year at a large southeastern university. The survey was administered as part of a required team building exercise. The results of the personality traits were shared with the respondents. No other incentives were given to the respondents. A total of 337 students participated to the study, and only six cases had missing responses. No attempt was made to estimate the missing values. The ratio of males to females in the sample was 59:41, and the average age of respondents was 22 years. Almost half (49.4 percent) of the respondents reported having about 1.5 years of professional work experience outside the university. About two-thirds (64.2 percent) of the respondents reported that they were actively involved in business-oriented extracurricular activities. In terms of race and ethnicity, 3.3 percent identified themselves as African American, 0.3 percent as American Indian, 1.8 percent as Asian, 91.9 percent as Caucasian, 0.3 percent as Hispanic, and 2.4 percent as "other".

Three multi-item scales were used to measure personality traits of extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The reliability testing of the scales yielded Cronbach alphas of 0.622, 0.567 and 0.534 respectively. Exploratory factor analysis was performed to test the construct validity. Four items on the extraversion scale had factor loadings ranging between 0.748 and 0.600. Four items on the agreeableness scale had factor loadings between 0.731 and 0.442. Finally, three items on the conscientiousness scale had factor loadings between 0.804 and 0.615. These numbers were similar to those obtained in the recent studies (Chang, 2006; Periatt, Chakrabarty, & Lemay, 2007).

Scales for personality traits have sufficient reliability and construct validity to warrant their use in further analysis. Therefore, a composite scale was formed for each of the three personality traits. Respondents were asked about their behavior while waiting and their propensity to take control in various retail situations. Their responses were analyzed using composite personality scales as categorization variables in one-way ANOVA.

The relationships among personality traits and behavior in various retail situations are shown in Table 1. The first set of questions is dedicated to waiting behaviors, and the second set of questions is dedicated to control behaviors.

DISCUSSION

Waiting at a Retail Encounter

In this study, the effect of situational factors on extravert and introvert personality types while waiting in line was clearly shown. Extraverts were more likely to switch lanes when a new lane opened up in a grocery store, providing partial support for hypothesis 1. Introverts were more likely than extroverts to avoid sporting events or amusement parks when long waiting lines were expected. Introverts were also more likely seek another restaurant if there was a thirty-minute or longer wait. It seems like extraverts would prefer waiting with others for entertainment. But, they try to avoid waiting when it is a chore. Both personality types were indecisive in the case of an extended waiting time at a doctor's office.

In terms of waiting in line, the only significant difference between agreeable and antagonist personality types occurred when there was an opportunity to change lanes at a grocery store checkout. Antagonists were the ones who will change lanes if the opportunity arises. This provides a partial support for hypothesis four. In other waiting situations, no differences emerged between the two personality types.

In this study, conscientiousness had no significant impact on waiting in line behaviors in any of the situations, although conscientious types had slightly less tolerance for waiting in a grocery checkout lane than at a doctor's office, a sporting event or amusement park, or a busy restaurant.

These results suggest that the perceived importance and value of a service is related to the acceptability of waiting to receive that service. The prospect of waiting for a pleasurable activity such as a sporting event, amusement park, or restaurant generally does not discourage customers from going. This may be due to the fact that people usually wait in groups for such activities and the presence of friends may mitigate any negative experiences associated with waiting. This finding supports Maister's (1985) suggestion that group waiting feels like a shorter period if time than solo waiting because socialization in such environments (having an objective to see people and be seen by people) may increase the tolerance for waiting. This relationship was significant, especially for extraverts, who typically seek out social interaction more often than introverts. The higher tolerance for waiting in a doctor's office may partly stem from the expectation that the wait will always be long in this type of situation. If the doctor is the only available specialist in that geographic region, then changing is a less feasible option.

While there is some support for the hypotheses for behaviors while waiting, results show that not all retail encounter situations are equal. Further exploration by means of a qualitative study is warranted in order to understand customer emotions, motivations and behaviors in various waiting situations.

Control over Retail Situation

Results of ANOVA indicate that Hypothesis 2, that customers who rate themselves higher on extraversion will be more likely to take control in retail situations is strongly supported. Extraverts had no trouble in taking charge of the situation if necessary to ensure a favorable outcome. This is consistent with the assertive dominance seeking behavior of extraverts (Pervin & John, 2001). They usually are optimistic about the fact that they can correct the situation through interpersonal interaction.

Conscientious types also had no trouble correcting intervening, a finding which supports Hypothesis 8 stating that customers who rate themselves higher in conscientiousness will have less trouble taking control of the retail situation. Conscientious individuals are more goal-directed. They usually are more organized and punctual than an average individual (Pervin & John, 2001). Any retail situation that may be prone to failure, would have direct impact on their carefully thought agenda. Therefore, they would have a tendency to take charge before it is too late.

In this study, agreeableness did not have an impact on customer behavior. On average, both groups were equally willing and able to correct unwanted situations in retail encounters. Agreeable individuals are usually kind and cooperative. Antagonist individuals, on the other hand, are considered selfish and stingy (Pervin & John, 2001). In a retail situation where the outcome would be less than desired, both personality types do not hesitate to intervene. Their styles of correcting the behavior may be different. But, the details of their approaches are beyond the scope of this study.

The three personality traits under investigation were not related to likelihood of using self-checkout systems. On average, all groups indicated that they used self-checkouts in some situations and traditional checkouts in others. Even if both traditional check-out and self-check out lanes were available, none of the individuals with the personality traits under study showed a preference of one check-out lane over another. Therefore, further studies are needed to understand customers' decisions about using self-checkout systems and how personality traits relate with the check-out lane preferences.

FUTURE RESEARCH

Personality traits of customers in retail encounters is one area where future research is warranted, because previous research has primarily focused on employees' personality traits and behaviors (Harris & Fleming, 2005; Licata, Mowen, Harris, & Brown, 2003). Specifically, in technology-based self-service (TBSS) options (e.g., self-checkouts in grocery stores or hotels; self-checkins at airports; electronic kiosks in stores and shopping malls), service organizations increasingly treat their customers as human resources (Ford & Heaton, 2001) and partial employees (Dellande & Gilly, 1998). Further research is needed to test if personality traits of employees and personality traits of customers acting like partial employees or quasi employees would be quite similar or completely different.

Comparison of personality traits of regular employees and partial employees (customers) would help answer if the customers would be good enough for a particular service business in terms of their performances (Bateson, 2002). Better understanding of the personality traits of customers actively participating in service production and delivery would contribute toward more effective unification of the needs of the service organization and the customer based on customized service scripts. In building and sustaining relationships with their customers, businesses have started using not only CRM (Customer Relationship Management) techniques but also CPM (Customer Participation Management) method (Seideman, 2001). Personality traits of customers would complete an important part in such systems.

Competent and willing customers in technology-based self-service environments are normally perceived to be a good thing that happens to service organizations in terms of increasing organizational productivity. However, sometimes customers may act like competitors to a service organization. "In some cases, customers even assess their own lifetime value to a company and use the knowledge to bargain for better terms" (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2000). Still, understanding personality traits of customers, besides knowing their financial information form company databases, would be quite helpful in interpreting customer's potential moves and how s/he would exercise her/his power to negotiate with the service organization.

Personality traits of customers would also be utilized in understanding what makes them start using and also keep using technology-based self-service options that are increasingly introduced by retailers, banks, hotels, restaurants, entertainment businesses and airports. Deeper understanding of customer traits would specifically help with market segmentation and why adopters of various TBSS options vary in their use of these options (Barczak, Ellen, & Pilling, 1997).

Another area warranting further investigation is the experience of waiting for services. The present study suggests the experience differs across various situations. Situational factors need to be identified, and customer responses to these factors need to be investigated. Customers by different personality types would also be used for segmenting the total market and targeting certain segments accordingly (Katz, Larson and Larson 1991). When service organizations do not provide an adequate social justice by adequately implementing "the principle of first-come-first-serve," this would influence customer satisfaction while waiting for, during or after service (Kumar, Kalwani, & Dada, 1997). Segmentation of customers by personality types based on their reactions/ behavior against a social injustice for waiting would also be another promising research path.

CONCLUSION

This study investigates how personality traits, namely extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness, influence customers' behavior with regard to waiting in and control over a retail situation. Study findings indicated that among these three personality traits, extraversion most strongly influences waiting in retail situations. Both conscientiousness and extraversion had an impact on consumer behavior with regard to control over a retail situation. Understanding personality traits of customers in retail environments would potentially be a valuable tool in managing customers as partial employees, segmenting markets for TBSS options, implementing customer participation management systems, developing and sustaining TBSS options, competing well in new economy.

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M. Meral Anitsal, Tennessee Tech University

Ismet Anitsal, Tennessee Tech University Table 1: ANOVA Results Corresponding Means Extravert Introvert F-Stat Sig Waiting at a retail encounter If you are kept 1.53 1.7 1.473 0.21 waiting at a doctor's office for an extended period of time, do you say something to the office staff? (Yes=1, No=2) When you're waiting in 1.12## 1.39## 3.502 0.008 line at a store and a cashier opens up another lane, do you typically switch lanes? (Yes=1, No=2) Would the prospect of 1.73## 1.3## 5.09 0.001 waiting in long lines at a sporting event or amusement park discourage you from going? (Yes=1, No=2) If you go to a 1.81## 1.56## 3.082 0.016 restaurant on a Friday night and find a 30-minute wait, do you go to another restaurant? (Yes=1, No=2) Control over a retail situation Do you have any 1.22# 1.39# 2.27 0.062 trouble ending conversations with telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople? (Yes=2, No=1) Do you have trouble 1.12## 1.35## 2.629 0.034 returning unwanted purchases to a store? (Yes=2, No=1) If you got the wrong 1.11## 1.3## 4.24 0.002 item at a restaurant or didn't get part of your meal, would you say something to your server? (Yes=1, No=2) If you were ready to 1.52 1.56 0.065 0.992 check out at a grocery store and both a staffed checkout lane and a self- checkout lane were available, would you choose staffed or self? (Staffed=1, Sef=2) Corresponding Means Antagonist Agreeable F-Stat Waiting at a retail encounter If you are kept 1.52 1.61 0.356 waiting at a doctor's office for an extended period of time, do you say something to the office staff? (Yes=1, No=2) When you're waiting in 1.06## 1.22 2.854 line at a store and a cashier opens up another lane, do you typically switch lanes? (Yes=1, No=2) Would the prospect of 1.69 1.48 1.341 waiting in long lines at a sporting event or amusement park discourage you from going? (Yes=1, No=2) If you go to a 1.82 1.78 0.885 restaurant on a Friday night and find a 30-minute wait, do you go to another restaurant? (Yes=1, No=2) Control over a retail situation Do you have any 1.1 1.26 1.827 trouble ending conversations with telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople? (Yes=2, No=1) Do you have trouble 1.17 1.22 0.83 returning unwanted purchases to a store? (Yes=2, No=1) If you got the wrong 1.1 1.09 0.453 item at a restaurant or didn't get part of your meal, would you say something to your server? (Yes=1, No=2) If you were ready to 1.58 1.48 0.662 check out at a grocery store and both a staffed checkout lane and a self- checkout lane were available, would you choose staffed or self? (Staffed=1, Sef=2) Corresponding Means Sig Conscientious Non-Conscientious Waiting at a retail encounter If you are kept 0.84 1.52 1.63 waiting at a doctor's office for an extended period of time, do you say something to the office staff? (Yes=1, No=2) When you're waiting in 0.024 1.14 1.17 line at a store and a cashier opens up another lane, do you typically switch lanes? (Yes=1, No=2) Would the prospect of 0.254 1.61 1.66 waiting in long lines at a sporting event or amusement park discourage you from going? (Yes=1, No=2) If you go to a 0.473 1.86 1.78 restaurant on a Friday night and find a 30-minute wait, do you go to another restaurant? (Yes=1, No=2) Control over a retail situation Do you have any 0.123 1.15# 1.27# trouble ending conversations with telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople? (Yes=2, No=1) Do you have trouble 0.507 1.16 1.24 returning unwanted purchases to a store? (Yes=2, No=1) If you got the wrong 0.77 1.09## 1.27## item at a restaurant or didn't get part of your meal, would you say something to your server? (Yes=1, No=2) If you were ready to 0.619 1.61 1.51 check out at a grocery store and both a staffed checkout lane and a self- checkout lane were available, would you choose staffed or self? (Staffed=1, Sef=2) F-Stat Sig Waiting at a retail encounter If you are kept 0.923 0.43 waiting at a doctor's office for an extended period of time, do you say something to the office staff? (Yes=1, No=2) When you're waiting in 0.103 0.959 line at a store and a cashier opens up another lane, do you typically switch lanes? (Yes=1, No=2) Would the prospect of 0.716 0.543 waiting in long lines at a sporting event or amusement park discourage you from going? (Yes=1, No=2) If you go to a 1.57 0.197 restaurant on a Friday night and find a 30-minute wait, do you go to another restaurant? (Yes=1, No=2) Do you have any 2.214 0.086 trouble ending conversations with telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople? (Yes=2, No=1) Do you have trouble 0.723 0.539 returning unwanted purchases to a store? (Yes=2, No=1) If you got the wrong 3.698 0.012 item at a restaurant or didn't get part of your meal, would you say something to your server? (Yes=1, No=2) If you were ready to 1.649 0.178 check out at a grocery store and both a staffed checkout lane and a self- checkout lane were available, would you choose staffed or self? (Staffed=1, Sef=2) Note: Bold : significant at alpha = 0.10%; Bold and italic: significant at alpha = 0.05% Note: Significant at alpha = 0.10% is indicated with # sign: significant at alpha =0.05% is indicated with ## sign.
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