The purpose of this special issue is to reexamine customization and personalization in marketing. Both customization and personalization are manufacturing techniques used by firms to provide their customers with products, services, and informative contents that match their individual needs. With a customization/personalization system, firms gain a competitive advantage. A few decades ago, Japanese firms such as Panasonic and Toyota were world leaders in high-tech customization/personalization systems. However, in recent years, foreign firms seem to be conducting more skillful marketing with customization/personalization systems. Moreover, Japanese scholars have published fewer articles on customization/personalization than foreign scholars. In response to this situation, this special issue contains five invited refereed articles, in addition to seven other articles.
In the service field, there is an increasing trend for service firms to replace service activities previously performed by humans with technologies. Balancing human flexibility with the reliability of technology is an important issue in service design. We conducted three empirical studies on how human touch and technology-based service experiences affect customer evaluation of service quality. Results revealed that availability of human touch moderates the effect of customer expectations on the evaluation of service quality, whereas availability of technology-based service moderates the effect of customer service on the evaluation of service quality. We also found that the effects vary depending on the degree of customer experience. These findings obtained from our studies have some practical implications for business. Finally, some issues for future research of service customization are presented.
Personalized recommendation service, or service personalization, is a tactic executed by many firms for service encounters. Personalized services generally have a positive effect, while recommendation services by service personnel can have both positive and negative effects. This study focuses on consumer expertise and relationships among goods in personalized recommendations and hypothesizes the conditions under which evaluation of personalized recommendation are determined. This study implies effective approaches to personalized recommendation in the circumstances of expert and novice consumers, respectively, based on the results of an empirical analysis.
Mass customization (MC) is a product strategy that can meet heterogeneous customer needs. Among various kinds of MC systems, customization via starting solutions (CvSS) has attracted academic attention as a method of reducing configuration costs, and its effectiveness has been examined. However, existing studies examining the effectiveness of CvSS have limitations in two respects; 1) focusing only on limited MC values, and 2) ignoring the heterogeneity of customer design skills. The purposes of this paper are 1) to specify the structure of MC values perceived by customers, and 2) to examine the effects of CvSS based on the structure of MC values. The results of Study 1 show that the MC process value, consisting of enjoyment and process effort, enhances the MC product value, which consists of preference fit and self-expressiveness. The results of Study 2 show that customers with high design skills perceive less enjoyment in the CvSS process than those with lower design skills.
While personalized ads provide information that is relevant to consumers’ needs, they may also violate consumers’ privacy because such ads involve collection and use of personal information. When consumers browse a personalized ad, the level of perceived relevance can be (1) higher than, (2) lower than, or (3) equal to the level of perceived privacy concern. This research aims to identify the conditions under which each of these three patterns occurs. Study 1 shows that the first (third) pattern occurs if consumers with a promotion focus browse a personalized ad depicting the gain (non-loss) of the product, and that the second pattern occurs if consumers with a prevention focus regarding private facts browse a personalized ad. Studies 2 and 3 show that the third (first) pattern occurs if consumers with a prevention focus regarding product consumption browse a personalized ad depicting the gain (non-loss) of the product in the situation that advertisers or websites are more trusted.
The purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of the degree to which global companies’ web sites are adapted to local culture, i.e. cultural customization on web sites, on local consumers’ ease of use of the web sites. We also examine the moderating effect of regulatory focus on the impact of cultural customization on web sites. We perform a content analysis of Japanese websites for American companies and conduct a consumer survey. The results of the empirical analysis show that cultural customization has a positive impact on perceived presentation and navigation on the web sites, and that promotion focus enhances the positive impact of cultural customization. These results imply that global companies should reflect local cultural values on their websites and that cultural customization is more effective for promotion-focused, rather than prevention-focused consumers.
The number of advertisements using character endorsers has increased considerably recently. Character endorsers have also attracted growing interest from advertising researchers. Considering that previous research has contributed to improved understanding of the effectiveness of character endorsers, it is essential to organize previous research findings and clarify important questions for future research. This paper reviews previous research on character endorsers in terms of (1) classification of character endorsers, (2) positive effects of character endorsers on consumer attitude, and (3) moderators of the effects of character endorsers. This paper proposes that future research should (1) identify additional moderators, (2) examine negative effects of character endorsers on consumer attitudes, and (3) focus on additional dependent variables.
Moderate music can increase both the consumer’s positive emotions and purchase amount, but also the product’s images, evaluations and brand image. This paper reviews the literature on the effect of auditory stimuli on consumer behaviors, and addresses more comprehensive research about “Congruence” between music and various stimuli. The next aim of this paper is to assimilate the findings of Music psychology and discuss the effects of music on consumer behavior from many perspectives. Finally, this paper suggests future issues for auditory stimuli research.
Interest in how to manage customer engagement is growing, from both the practical and theoretical perspectives. Despite this high interest, previous studies have not provided a unified view of how customer engagement is defined. Therefore, first of all, this study clarifies the definition of customer engagement. Because the distinction from other concepts becomes clear and management becomes easier, it is effective to define customer engagement from a behavioral perspective. Thus, this study defines customer engagement as the customer’s contribution to the firm, going beyond purchase, i.e., word-of-mouth, new customer referrals, product innovation, and customer support. Just as the definition of customer engagement is not clear, previous studies have suggested various ways to manage customer engagement. Therefore, in order to organize knowledge regarding managing customer engagement, this study introduces two new perspectives. One perspective is what kind of resources are used when customers engage. The other perspective is who is the object of engagement.
One of the consumer behaviors created by the spread of electronic commerce (EC) is showrooming. This behavior refers to purchasing products cheaply on the Internet after checking the products in stores. This is a major threat to companies selling in-store products, and thus this subject is attracting attention from both industry and academia. However, the situation is significantly different in the automotive industry, where purchasing at a physical store is still mainstream. Therefore, the generic evaluation and discussion of the current situation in automotive showrooms is inadequate. In this study, the influence of the experience of visiting various types of showrooms, such as theme parks and cafes, on the recommendation intentions was evaluated in the Japanese automobile industry. According to the result of estimating the causal effect by propensity score based on the online survey, no significant effect was found. With respect to factors influencing the recommendation intention, the customers’ experience of the store is more important than the product. Politeness, affinity, and the customer’s sense of being made to feel special were extracted as factors contributing to the recommendation intentions. Although it is difficult to design a flow line directly to purchase behavior in an industry where EC conversion is not widespread, it is important to design consistent showrooms where customers can experience factors that influence their recommendation intention.
Halekulani was once a popular bungalow hotel. About 35 years ago, when Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. reopened Halekulani, the goal was for it to become a luxury hotel providing services suitable for a “house befitting heaven”, as its name means. This paper analyze the Halekulani’s high quality service along the servuction framework and considering from the viewpoint of the following elements: physical environment, process of service assembly, and participants. In addition, we disassembled the “bundle of service benefit” received by a customer, and confirmed how to provide “contingent services” and “potential services”. This case study emphasizes the importance of designing the service experience processes as well as penetrating the shared values of the organization into these processes.
This case deals with a long selling brand of popsicles “Garigari-kun” that has been produced by Akagi Nyugyo since 1981. It focuses specifically on the marketing effort since 2004, using a fictional elementary school student character “Garigari-kun,” which helped boost its sales from 100 million to 400 million units annually. Fumio Hagiwara, the current acting director of Akagi Nyugyo’s development division, was in charge of the “Garigari-kun” marketing strategies for many years. He joined the company in 1995, first worked in sales, moved to the sales planning division, and then established the sales management division in 2004. He also created a specialized “Garigari-kun Production” division to promote the character in 2006, and finally established the marketing division in 2013. These reforms enabled the company to promote the brand effectively both online and offline, and “Garigari-kun” became a popular topic of conversation among customers. The case is based on an interview with Hagiwara in 2018 and his public lecture in 2020.