When special rewards in loyalty programs enrich consumer-brand relationships: The role of self-expansion

Psychology & Marketing (2020)
Authors: Gorlier T. & Michel G.

Although brands offer different kinds of rewards through their loyalty programs, little is known about how they can impact consumer-brand relationships and brand attitude. How do loyalty program rewards influence the consumer-brand relationship? And which kinds of rewards establish or maintain closer relationships between consumers and brands than others? To answer these questions, the present research makes use of self-expansion theory (Aron & Aron, 1986) and two experiments that manipulate the extraordinary character of rewards offered to consumers. Our findings show that special rewards produce higher self-expansion than mundane rewards. Moreover, the positive effect of the rewards’ extraordinary character on brand evaluation, recommendation and identification is sequentially and fully mediated by self-brand inclusion and self-expansion. Finally, we show that consumer satisfaction moderates the impact of special and mundane rewards on self-brand inclusion.