Purpose: This study addresses the role of habit strength in explaining loyalty behaviour. Design/methodology/approach: The study uses 2063 consumers’ data from a survey in Denmark and Spain, and multigroup structural equation modelling to analyse the data. The paper describes an approach employing the psychological meanings of the habit construct, such as automaticity, lack of awareness or very little conscious deliberation. Findings: The findings suggest that when habits start to develop and gain strength, less planning is involved, and that the loyalty behaviour sequence mainly occurs guided by automaticity and inertia. A new model with habit strength as a mediator between satisfaction and loyalty behaviour provides a substantial increase in explained variance in loyalty behaviour over the traditional model with intention as a mediator. Originality/value: This study contributes to the existent literature by providing an extension of the prevalent consumer loyalty theorizing by integrating the concept of habit strength and by generating new knowledge concerning the conscious/strategic and unconscious/automatic nature of consumer loyalty. The study derives managerial implications on how to facilitate habit formation and how to influence habit-based versus intention-based loyalty behaviour. The external validity of this study is assured by nationwide representative samples in two countries.
European Journal of Marketing, 2013, Vol 47, Issue 1/2, p. 303-323