Customer Engagement Behaviors and Purchase Value

Essi Pöyry

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


As companies are striving to deepen their customer relationships in a world where information and alternatives abound, customer engagement is a widely offered solution. Based on service-dominant logic, it is defined as a customer's motivationally driven, volitional investment of focal resources in brand (firm) interactions, and is widely assumed to improve company performance. Research on how expressing engagement affects the purchase behavior or purchase value of the individual in question is nevertheless scarce. Current research tends to consider customer engagement in terms of behaviors that are visible to others (e.g., customer referrals), even though private behaviors are clearly identifiable (e.g., reading brand-related social-media content). Researchers have also neglected the role of engagement in transactional behaviors that could be considered volitional and highly motivational. Examples include voluntary donations and high pay-what-you-want (PWYW) prices. Thus, customer engagement behaviors are categorized along two dimensions that, based on social identity theory, are assumed to impact purchase behaviors: social visibility and transaction focus. This dissertation comprises four essays focusing on these dimensions of customer engagement behavior and their effect on customers' own purchase behavior. Essays I and II investigate public and private non-transactional behaviors in online communities, whereas Essays III and IV concern public and private transactional behaviors in the case of PWYW offers. The results show that public customer-engagement behavior in online communities is hedonically motivated but not related to purchase intentions (Essay I). Increased public engagement may even lead to diminished service usage and sales revenues (Essay II). In the case of transactional behavior, the effect of the customer relationship is often overridden by the impact of price-offer tactics (Essay III). Finally, significantly higher transactional customer-engagement behavior is witnessed if known customers are made socially liable for their decisions (Essay IV). The essays contribute to the literature on service and relationship marketing in highlighting the potential of customer engagement to create value that is not dependent on the ownership or usage of the sold product or service, the implication being that it does not necessarily increase, and may even decrease, the purchase value of an individual customer. Customer-engagement strategies should therefore concentrate on the indirect value that engaged non-buying customers generate, and on the benefits customers expect from their engagement behaviors, such as social approval.
Translated title of the contributionAsiakasosallistumisen käytännöt ja ostokäyttäytyminen
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Parvinen, Petri, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7151-0
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7150-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • customer engagement behaviors
  • service-dominant logic
  • social identity theory
  • online community activity
  • pay-what-you-want pricing


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