The Consumer Knows Best!!

Currently, organizations are using social media to interact more and more with consumers. One of such examples is the strong interaction that KLM Airlines has with its customers over social media. When the consumer ask for help or make statements, they are one of the fastest corporations to reply through social media. However, Lui and Gal (2011) investigate whether interactions affects the relationship between consumers and organizations. Therefore evaluating whether different types of consumer input can have varying effects on this relationship with an organization.

Through various different experiments, the authors try to analyze whether different types of input have which influence on the closeness of the relationship with the organization. Closeness is the amount of bonding that is felt in a relationship (Liu & Gal, 2011). Firstly, they experimented with the role of giving advice on the non-profit index and whether individuals are more willing to donate. When individuals gave advice to the organization, they had a higher tendency to donate to the organization due to the closeness they felt. Therefore asking for advice could actually influence the individuals willingness to donate.

Then they wanted to see whether these aspects would change if the consumers’ input changed to expectations regarding for-profit organizations. From the results became apparent that giving expectations had a negative effect on intent for an individual to purchase a product from that organization. This remained positive for the category of providing advice. Therefore, when the consumer provides expectations, the relationship between consumer and organization can actually be harmed.

Due to this interesting finding, they evaluated further under which conditions these aspects deviate. Through their third experiment, the authors found that advice giving resulted in the consumer placing themselves in the position of the organization and look for solutions. Therefore these factors resulted in more subjective feelings of closeness to the organization (Liu & Gal, 2011). Whereas stating expectations only resulted in a feeling of distance between the consumer and organization. When giving opinions, there was a mediating effect on the overall closeness, but leaning more to a feeling of distance.

Since giving advice can have such a strong influence on the empathetic relationship between consumer and organizations, their next step was to evaluate whether paying consumers for advice would further strengthen the closeness. They discovered that when consumers were paid for advice, the positive effect was actually eliminated. However this effect was not there with opinions. Thus organizations looking to create a strong closeness with their consumers should actually make sure there is a tendency for them to give advice to the organization.

Therefore companies such as KLM that trying to build strong relationships with their consumers can improve by asking for advice. Through consumers giving advice they can further strengthen their connections. Thus, they should stop asking for the opinions and expectations of consumers, but rather let them give advice on which aspects should be improved.


Liu, W., & Gal, D. (2011). Bringing Us Together or Driving Us Apart: The Effect of Soliciting Consumer Input on Consumers’ Propensity to Transact with an Organization. Journal of Consumer Research, 38(2), 242-259.

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