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EJM
43,5/6

708
Received March 2007
Revised January 2008
Accepted January 2008

Store image attributes and


customer satisfaction across
different customer profiles within
the supermarket sector in Greece
Prokopis K. Theodoridis
Department of Business Administration of Food and Agricultural Enterprises,
University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece, and

Kalliopi C. Chatzipanagiotou
Department of Business Administration,
The Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece
Abstract
Purpose This research seeks to accomplish two objectives: to extend the test of the functional
relationship between store image attributes and customer satisfaction in the market environment of
Greece; and to investigate the stability of the structural relationships between store image attributes
and customer satisfaction across different customer groups.
Design/methodology/approach The literature concerning major store image attributes was
systematically reviewed. After assessing the construct validity of the store image attributes based on
confirmatory factor analysis, a path model specifying the relationships between store image attributes
and customer satisfaction was estimated. A multigroup analysis was conducted to test the invariance
of structural paths between store image attributes and customer satisfaction for different customer
profiles.
Findings On appraising the store customers personal variables four specific types of buyers,
namely, the Typical, the Unstable, the Social, and the Occasional, were identified. While four of the six
considered store attributes appear to be significant determinants of customer satisfaction, when
examined for the degree of invariance between the four groups only Pricing and Products-related
attributes were equally significant in all four groups.
Research limitations/implications The results of the study may vary with national context,
size, strategic position of supermarkets, and other customer personal variables (i.e. lifestyle)
suggesting future research opportunities.
Practical implications The results facilitate the comprehension of the role that specific store
attributes have on the satisfaction of store visitors with different profiles. In addition, the results
expand the retail managers knowledge on consumer behaviour, with rational motives (product and
price-related).
Originality/value The results expand ones knowledge on this relationship, propounding
interesting empirical evidence of the model invariance among different consumer profiles.
Keywords Stores and supermarkets, Customer satisfaction, Retailing, Greece, Corporate image,
Consumer behaviour
Paper type Research paper
European Journal of Marketing
Vol. 43 No. 5/6, 2009
pp. 708-734
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0309-0566
DOI 10.1108/03090560910947016

Both authors contributed equally to writing this paper.

Introduction
Retailers operate in a competitive environment facing changes in customer needs,
demographics, types of retailing, technology and retail ownership through mergers
and acquisitions. In such an environment, the understanding and prediction of
customer satisfaction is becoming an important subject. The retailers intention is to
increase repeat customers. Nowadays, customers seek an experience, which is more
than product variety and or quality: a synthesis of multi attributes which create a
favourable retailer and store image. As a result, a critical issue for retail management is
to determine the factors affecting satisfaction, to identify and target segments of
customers, to ensure patronage on a long term basis (Bitner, 1990; Sivadas and
Baker-Prewitt, 2000).
In order to understand the factors affecting customer satisfaction, researchers have
explored various store attributes considered by the customer. People during their
shopping trip formulate their experiences in terms of satisfaction. In other words, the
customers satisfaction is affected by the psychical environment of the store, the
various procedures they have to follow (cashiers, queues, traffic, trolleys, etc), the
moments of contact with personnel and the core offer of the retailer i.e. product variety,
assortment, quality and pricing policy (Morschett et al., 2005). This evaluation of the
total retailers offer in the customers mind is defined by Martineau (1958) as store
image. Customers evaluate the whole retailer offer by combining all the attributes
described above in order to decide their degree of satisfaction (Pan and Zinkhan, 2006;
Finn and Louviere, 1996; Kasulis and Lusch, 1981).
Several recent studies have examined the way that many of these attributes affect
customer satisfaction (Gail and Scott, 1995; Bloemer and De Ruyter, 1998; Hackl et al.,
2000). Nevertheless, past studies have neglected to investigate differences between
different clusters of customers in terms of the priorities they placed on different store
attributes when assessing satisfaction levels. Given the differences in the nature of
satisfaction these customer groups experience through the retailers offer, dissimilarities
in the perceived importance of store attributes may be anticipated. Moreover, both past
and recent empirical studies mostly pertain to specific geographical regions or countries,
such as the USA, Western Europe, Australia and Asia. This fact and the scarce empirical
evidence from a different national retail context such as Greece (Baltas and
Papastathopoulou, 2003; Baltas and Argouslidis, 2007), where there are possible
differences with the above mentioned regions and countries in terms of culture and
consumer behaviour, were the reasons per se for this study.
Thus the objective of this study is firstly to explore the construct of retail store
image in a supermarket context in Greece and then to examine retail store image
attributes and its relationship to customer satisfaction in regards to the retailers offer.
In this direction, the investigation further examines and compares the store image
attributes-satisfaction relationship among customer subgroups.
The paper is structured as follows: the first section discusses the notion of store
image attributes. Customer satisfaction is defined and personal variables and the
shopping frequency are discussed in relation to their impact on customer behaviour.
Next, different customer profiles are examined in relation to their invariant impact of
perceptions of store image attributes on their level of satisfaction with the retail
offering. The last section of the paper provides conclusions and discussion of the
findings as well as research limitations and propositions for future work.

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Literature review
Store image attributes
Store image conceptualisation and its construct formulation have gained the attention
of marketing and retailing literature for at least 30 years (Lindquist, 1974; Marks, 1976;
James et al., 1976). The retail store has a personality composed of functional and
psychological attributes (Martineau, 1958). In most cases retail store image is
represented by a multi-attribute construct (Marks, 1976; James et al., 1976). Doyle and
Fenwick (1974, p. 40) describe store image . . . as the consumers evaluation of all
salient aspects of the store as individually perceived and weighted. It is known that to
date there is no commonly accepted definition of store image (Morschett et al., 2005).
This is mostly due to the gap between the various forms of its conceptualisation and
operation (Morschett et al., 2005). The focus of a great part of the relative literature has
predominantly been on the relationships among variables constituting the retail image
and their representation. For example, a very early study of Kunkel and Berry (1968)
suggested 12 components of retail store image and Lindquist (1974) illustrated store
image with nine attributes. Literature focusing on various retail formats found
different sets of store attributes to constitute what is defined as image (indicative:
Doyle and Fenwick, 1974; Mazursky and Jacoby, 1986; Oppewal and Timmermans,
1997; Kim and Jin, 2001; Dong-Mo, 2003).
When we focus on a supermarket store environment, the centre of the retailer core
offer is the notion of the product. The retailers product proposal has been one of the
key researched attributes of retail store image. Literature has indicated that elements of
the product mix capture the quality and assortment of goods as well as their
presentation (Lindquist, 1974). A perception of a great assortment certainly influences
store image and satisfaction with the store (Anselmsson, 2006). Juhl et al. (2002)
investigating the degree of consumer satisfaction in five European countries France,
Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Switzerland found that product quality is the most
important attribute of store image. A study of the Danish grocery retailing industry by
Hansen and Solgaard (2004) (cited in Carpenter and Moore, 2006) identified that
product assortment was the single most influential variable affecting the choice of
retail format across discount stores, hypermarkets and conventional supermarkets
(Carpenter and Moore, 2006). Habitually, the customers perception on the quality of
products and assortment are positively related to the patronage of a store (Darley and
Jeen-Su, 1993; Jacoby and Mazursky, 1985; Arnold et al. 1983; Craig et al. 1984;
Koelemeijer and Oppewal, 1999; Louviere and Gaeth, 1987) as well as the perceived
merchandise value (Grewal et al. 2003). In addition, in a study in Greece, product
assortment and quality were found to be the key drivers of customers choice (Baltas
and Papastathopoulou, 2003).
In addition, pricing either in conjunction or in isolation with product policy
contributes to a great degree to the retailers positioning and personality
(McGoldrick, 1990). The customer evaluates the retail offer in terms of forfeit. The
retailers pricing policy refers to the monetary costs i.e. the cost of goods purchased or
to be purchased. Pricing found to be one of the most important attributes in
grocery-shopping decisions (Hortman et al., 1990). Further, the price level has been
found to be an influential factor in terms of retail format choice and determinant of
different customer groups (Carpenter and Moore, 2006; Baltas and Papastathopoulou,
2003). People can be inelastic to price changes for grocery purchases (Fox et al., 2004).

Moreover, Sirohi et al. (1998) found that price has a great effect on the value of the store.
On the other hand Fox et al. (2004), found that price was the weakest predictor of
shopping and spending behaviour among consumers of supermarket chains in the
USA.
Although a supermarket context is a self-service one, it is certain that the service
provision to the customer; fresh product area, bakery, cashiers etc. are an important
attribute. The service provision includes moments of truth with personnel:
information enquires, guidance to the location of goods, cashiers, etc. so, the
relationship between consumer and retailer is enhanced by the service provision which
increases the customers positive buying experience, and further affects future
behaviour in terms of repeat visits (Reynolds and Beatty, 1999). Furthermore,
customers perceptions regarding the performance of salespeople is a critical factor
influencing satisfaction (Darian et al., 2001). However, a study by Hansen and Solgaard
(2004) found that quality and service levels did not appear to be influential on the
customer across different grocery formats.
Another important attribute of supermarket store image is store atmosphere. This
refers to the environment that is created by combining a set of visual elements of the
physical store environment (colours, displays, decorative features, ease of movement
etc) and stimulation of senses (smell, condition of the air, music, lighting) enabling an
aesthetic consumer response. Stores with a favourable atmosphere are likely to
increase the positive buying experience and customer satisfaction (Babin and Darden,
1996) as well as affecting the time the customer spends in the store and the amount
spent (Babin and Darden, 1996; Babin et al., 2003; Donovan and Rossiter, 1982; Bellizzi
et al., 1983; Eroglu and Machleit, 1990).
Moreover, in store convenience represents an important attribute of store
environmental stimuli. In store convenience refers to a store layout and design,
which helps customers plan their trip in terms of orientation and direction. They also
become skilled at understanding the various signs and labels and control their
shopping exploration and trip (Bitner, 1990; Spies et al., 1997). The successful layout of
a store depends on whether it has a clear and legible concept; i.e. one can easily find
products and find them the first time on different trips. The various labels, information
posters and signs can contribute to the concept of the store layout design in creating a
favourable and attractive store environment (Spies et al., 1997).
Retail literature agrees that consumers impute differing degrees of value on certain
store attributes (Osman, 1993). Therefore, to predict satisfaction with a retail store and
its offer, it is necessary to look at whether the store meets the expectations of specific
consumer segments in terms of attributes. The prediction and the adaptation of the
retail offer towards to the consumers expectation leads to satisfaction, a crucial
determinant of retail success.
Customer satisfaction
Satisfaction is a crucial issue for both customer and retail management. It is an
important concept within general retail marketing and consumer research.
(Anselmsson, 2006). Customer satisfaction in a retail setting has been linked to a
number of important outcomes, including sales performance, customer retention and
loyalty (Darian et al., 2001; Wong and Sohal, 2003; Gomez et al., 2004; Anselmsson,

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2006; Martenson, 2007). As a result, it is imperative that retailers know the


determinants of customer satisfaction.
An extensive examination of early studies in consumer satisfaction illustrates that
most researchers define customer satisfaction, as a post choice evaluative judgment
concerning a specific purchase decision (Bearden and Teel, 1983; Churchill and
Surprenant, 1982; Oliver, 1979, 1980; Oliver and DeSarbo, 1988; Bloemer and De
Ruyter, 1998). Many authors have further explored the notion of customer satisfaction.
They identified two main types of satisfaction: the transaction-specific and the
overall or cumulative satisfaction (Bolton and Drew, 1991; Boulding et al., 1993).
From the transaction-specific perspective, customer satisfaction is viewed as a
post-choice evaluation of a specific purchase occasion (Oliver, 1980, 1981). In contrast,
the overall or cumulative perspective suggests that satisfaction accumulates across a
series of experiences with the product, which results in an overall evaluation over time
(Anderson et al., 1994; Fornell, 1992). In addition, recent studies claim that satisfaction
should be viewed as a judgment based on the cumulative experience rather than a
transaction specific phenomenon (Anderson et al., 1994; Bayus, 1992). Cumulative
satisfaction in the retail setting can be interpreted as the result of evaluating the
shopping trip and retailers offer in correlation to the consumers fulfilled
expectations (Sivadas and Baker-Prewitt, 2000). Thus, customer satisfaction in this
study is defined as the customers overall evaluation of the store experience
(MacIntosh and Lockshin, 1997, p. 489).
As satisfaction is the overall evaluation of all stimuli affecting the customer in the
store, it is certain that one can define different subgroups of customers with different
levels of satisfaction (Morschett et al., 2005). In consumer research, it is commonly
accepted, that different individuals react differently to the same stimuli. In this study it
was deemed crucial to identify different customer profiles in order to be more effective
and efficient in implementing marketing strategies and tactics.
Customer profiles
Segmentation of customers has been explored by many researchers seeking to
understand shopping behaviour in an endeavour to develop marketing strategies for
particular consumer groups. Market segmentation holds the key to a successful
marketing strategy as it advances the understanding of the key variables that
differentiate the specific segment (Jarratt, 1996; Gehrt and Yan, 2004).
The majority of the relative literature on consumer demographics, typology and
consequently on segmentation is in the area of non-food retailing (Bellenger et al.,
1977; Lumpkin et al., 1985; Burt and Gabbott, 1995; Otnes and McGrath, 2001;
Mazursky and Jacoby, 1986; Johnson-Hilary et al., 1997; Grace and OCass, 2005).
When examining the literature in the retail field, one distinguishes at least three
research groups. The first group, focuses on the examination of specific
demographic variables, like gender or age, investigating the relation with various
other consumer behaviour-related variables (satisfaction, patronage, loyalty)
(Dholakia, 1999; Pan and Zinkhan, 2006; Gelb, 1978; Lambert, 1979; Burnett, 1991;
Roy, 1994). The second group focuses on the effort of proving the weight of
personal characteristics (demographics) and/or shopping elements like frequency in
relation to store image attributes or shopping orientation (Kim and Park, 1997;
Bawa and Ghosh, 1999; Hortman et al., 1990; Carpenter and Moore, 2006), and

finally, the third group which is similar to the second underlines the
national/geographical context or comparative studies between two or three
national contexts (Home, 2002; Baltas and Papastathopoulou, 2003; Baltas and
Argouslidis, 2007).
Examining the literature of the first research group, it has to be mentioned that in
the majority of the studies gender is one of the most researchable elements of consumer
demographics (Dholakia, 1999; Pan and Zinkhan, 2006). Even though females have
been the key determinants of shopping activity, males are becoming progressively
more active shoppers (Dholakia, 1999). Although, the number of men shopping for food
is substantial, few retailers and manufacturers have acknowledged or addressed this
segment (Dholakia, 1999; Zeithaml, 1985). Age is another demographic characteristic
that has attracted considerable research attention. Particularly, the elderly have indeed
different needs from other segments in store attributes, like customer service (Gelb,
1978; Lambert, 1979; Burnett, 1991; Lumpkin et al., 1985; Schewe, 1984) and store
layout and convenience facilities (Gelb, 1978; Lambert, 1979; Tincher, 1990). The older
the person the more likely to be economy conscious (Mason and Bearden, 1978). Also,
the young population needs more attention, as it has different behavioural
characteristics, such as devoting less time for shopping and only visiting certain
types of retailers (Roy, 1994).
In the second stream of research some researchers focus, on a set of personal
characteristics (demographics) and/or shopping elements like frequency in relation to
store image attributes (Kim and Park, 1997; Bawa and Ghosh, 1999). For instance,
Hortman et al. (1990) found three different consumer segments based on variables such
as; the age of the household head, educational level, family income. These segments
found to place different emphasis on different store attributes such as price, product
assortment, convenience, personal service, atmosphere when selecting supermarkets.
In contrast with the above findings Carpenter and Moore (2006), found that specific
demographics such as income, education and age appeared to not affect consumer
behaviour.
The third research group includes studies, which underlined the national/geographical
context as very important and in many cases it is the only form factor of store attributes
evaluation and consumer satisfaction. For example in Finland, Home (2002) found that
supermarket customers were more educated, younger, had a family with children, and
had a higher income level in comparison with other retail-format customers. As one could
expect they are more conscious regarding the evaluation of their degree of satisfaction.
Considering Greece, females tend to pay relatively more attention to economic criteria
when choosing brands or stores. (Baltas and Papastathopoulou, 2003). Furthermore,
Baltas and Argouslidis (2007) investigating store brand preference within the grocery
category found that spending per trip, monthly expenditure, gender, family size and age
are not associated with store brands preference. In the same study education level was
negatively associated with price related decision criteria, mainly because university and
college graduates tend to receive greater salaries (Baltas and Argouslidis, 2007).
From the above, it became clear that there is a general agreement or direction
revealed by empirical findings relative to consumer segmentation or typology and the
role of personal variables and shopping behaviour elements. Nevertheless, it is not
clear how and in what degree specific demographics affect customer behaviour across
various types of retailing and different contexts (Kim and Jin, 2001). Thus it is crucial

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in this study to examine the customers of supermarkets in terms of their perception of


store image attributes and satisfaction in order to discover how personal variables
such as age, gender, educational level, family cycle and shopping frequency affect this
relationship.

714

Research aims and hypotheses


The relationship between the stores image attributes and consumer satisfaction has
been mentioned by many researchers in the literature (Gail and Scott, 1995; Bloemer
and De Ruyter, 1998; Hackl et al., 2000; Jin and Jai-Ok, 2001; Thang and Tan, 2003;
Gomez et al., 2004).
Despite this fact, there are still unresolved issues concerning the conceptualisation,
operationalisation and the true nature of the relationship between the two constructs.
Nevertheless, for retailers, the problem is how to cope with increased competition
taking into account the dynamics of different store attributes in order to improve
customer satisfaction. To enable informed decisions on this issue, retailers need to
know more about the role of each store attribute such as products, store atmosphere,
personnel etc.
The literature has illustrated that findings and the mix of attributes related to the
store image are not necessarily applicable from one retail sector to another (Birtwistle
et al., 1999). Although Davies (1992) suggested that retail store image is almost
situation specific. Since the conceptualisation and operationalisation of the construct of
store image attributes was developed in culturally diverse contexts, a non validity with
the current sample was deemed possible. Thus, the first objective of this study is to
examine the relationship of the store attributes and consumer satisfaction in the Greek
context.
Past studies have also explored how levels of satisfaction varied in relation to basic
demographic variables such as gender and age. It is crucial for retailers to know the
magnitude of the relationship between store image attributes and customer
satisfaction, in their markets, how it is changing, and to be aware of any differences
between customer segments. Therefore, the second research objective is the
investigation of the causal relationship between store image attributes and
satisfaction between different subgroups obtained from gender, age, family cycle,
educational level and frequency of shopping visit.
These objectives led to the formulation of the following research hypotheses:
H1. Store image attributes (merchandising, products, store atmosphere, personnel,
price and in store convenience) have a direct positive effect on customer
satisfaction.
H2. The effect of store image attributes on customer satisfaction will vary among
different customers profiles.
Methodology
Sample and data collection
The three largest multiple supermarket chains with nation-wide coverage were chosen,
because their customers represent a wide range in the spectrum of consumer
demographics.

In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 customers in order to verify any


potential problems concerning the wording of the questionnaire as well as its
translation into the Greek language. Moreover, qualitative research identified the
adaptation and in some cases the deletion of specific items. The items (originally
developed in English) were translated into Greek by native speakers and then back
translated into English to ensure equivalent meaning (Brislin, 1980). The questionnaire
was structured. In total, 15 stores of the three chains in Attiki County were selected due
to cover heterogeneous residential areas.
Personal in-store interviews were adopted as a cost-effective means of collecting
data and suited in order to capture and ensure variables relative to the store image
attributes and their respective level of satisfaction. Researchers selected one person
in every five shoppers entering the store. The respondents were not given any
incentive and they contributed voluntarily. The interviews were conducted on
different days covering all the operating days of a supermarket (day to day in a
cyclic manner for all the stores) as well as at uniformly distributed time intervals
(within three sessions of operating hours: 9:00 am to 13:00 pm, 13:00 to 17:00 pm
and 17:00-21:00 pm), in order to reduce date, and time related response-bias. The
field research lasted two months. Finally, 634 questionnaires were filled but 630
questionnaires were usable.
Table I presents the frequencies and percentages of the respondents-customers
divided according to gender, age, family cycle, education and shopping frequency.
Specifically, the final sample consisted of 234 males (37.1 per cent) and 396 females
(62.9 per cent). The respondents have been categorised into five age ranges. All the age
categories present an almost balanced distribution. The majority of the sample is
married with children (57.8 per cent). Singles are represented to a great degree, 30.6 per
Variables

Values

Frequency

Valid (%)

Gender

Male
Female

234
396

37.1
62.9

Family cycle

Single
Married
Married Children

193
73
364

30.6
11.6
57.8

Age

18-25
26-35
36-45
46-55
56

102
120
168
131
109

16.2
19.0
26.7
20.8
17.3

Educational level

Low (elementary and basic)


Medium (Lyceum and vocational)
High (graduate & postgraduate)

66
241
323

10.5
38.3
51.3

Shopping frequency

Very often (two times/week)


Often (one time/week or less)
Less often (one time/15days-month)
Seldom (less than one time/month)

131
347
131
21

20.8
55.1
20.8
3.3

Note: n 630

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Table I.
Sample profile

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cent of the total sample. Relative to the educational level, slightly more than half of the
sample, are graduates or postgraduates (51.3 per cent), followed by 38.3 per cent who
completed a lyceum or vocational school. Last but not least, the majority of the
customers are frequent supermarket shoppers as they shop almost every week (55.1
per cent). Both the sides of the shopping frequency i.e. less often and very often
present a balanced distribution (20.8 per cent).

716
Purifying the measures
The methodology concerning measures employed and data analysis follows three
steps. The first step is to confirm the factor structure of measurement items of store
image attributes. The second step investigates the relative importance of each of the
store image dimensions in the customers satisfaction formation for the total sample.
Finally, in the third step, a multigroup analysis was conducted to investigate the
invariance between customer subgroups (clusters) based on demographics and
frequency of supermarket visit.
Store image attributes. Store image attributes scale was developed based on the
previous work of Lindquist(1974) as well as on the adoption of specific items found in
the recent literature (Oppewal and Timmermans, 1997; Keh and Teo, 2001).
Preliminary instrument of 30 items designed to capture the store image construct. The
specific instrument was tested through in-depth personal interviews with 20 customers
from the research population in order to derive content validity seven items were
dropped and three were replaced according to the respondents suggestions. This
process produced a slightly modified pool of 23 items. Thus the adapted final version
used a seven-point Likert scale where respondents were asked to indicate their
agreement with each item.
The first phase of the analysis involved an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) in
order to derive a preliminary examination of the factorial structure of the
measure-store image attributes (Stevens, 1996) (Table II). The results of EFA were
then examined through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) in order to assess the
convergent validity and the unidimensionality of the partial constructs. From the
results EFA questions (items) with factor loadings of less than 0.40 were excluded. The
exploratory factor analysis led to the detection of six factors that collectively construed
60 per cent of the total fluctuation of the initial variables:
(1) products;
(2) pricing;
(3) atmosphere;
(4) personnel;
(5) merchandising; and
(6) in-store convenience.
Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was subsequently conducted to confirm the factor
structure of the six store image attributes using AMOS 7.0 (Joreskog and Sorbom,
1993). The fit indices (CFI 0.921, GFI 0.938, AGFI 0.914, TLI 0.902 and
RMSEA 0.05) suggest that the model with the six latent variables represents a good
fit to the data (Table III and Figure 1). The instrument demonstrates evidence of both
convergent (significant critical ratios, Average Variance Extracted . 0.50 in all

Cronbachs
alpha
Loadings coefficients

Factors (varimax method)

Items loading in each factor

Factor 1: Personnel
(22.2% of total variance)

Nice presentation (Presentation)


Caring about the consumer (Caring)
Friendly (Friendly)
Knowledgeable (Knowledge)
Appropriate number (Number)

0.701
0.854
0.854
0.754
0.680

Appropriate temperature (Temperature)


Very good air-cleaning system (Air-cleaning
system)
Cleanliness (Cleanliness)
Pleasant smell (Smell)

0.589

There is a great product variety (Variety)


The quality of the products is very good
(Quality)
Always I find the shelves full (Full shelves)

0.817

Factor 2: Atmosphere
(9.1% of total variance)

Factor 3: Products
(8.1% of total variance)

Factor 4: Pricing
(7.5% of total variance)

Factor 5: Merchandising
(6.4% of total variance)

The prices are low comparative the major


competitors (Price-competitors)
The price-quality relation is very good
(Price-quality)
The prices are very good (Good prices)
One can easy find the products she/he need
(Easy finding)
I like the colours (Colours)
I have no problem with the labels
(Labelling)

Factor 6: In-store convenience The corridors are spacious (Corridors)


(5.8% of total variance)
Trolleys and baskets help me to a great
degree in my shopping trip (Carriage)

0.765
0.699
0.766

0.786
0.569

0.809

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0.704

0.650

0.830
0.589
0.869
0.628
0.669

0.701

0.620

0.708
0.820

0.644

0.669

Notes: Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy: 0.776, Bartletts Test of Sphericity:


x 2 3252, 2 significant 0.000, Total Variance explained: 60 per cent

occasions) and discriminant (AVE is greater than or equal to unity in all occasions)
validity (Fornell and Larcker, 1981) (Table III).
Customer satisfaction. A customer satisfaction was conceptualised as an overall
satisfaction rather than a transaction-specific post-purchase evaluation. A three-item
scale based on the previous work of Crosby and Stephens (1987), Bryant and Cha
(1996) and Fornell (1992) used in terms of overall satisfaction with the store. The
respondents were asked to indicate their agreement with each item using a
seven-point Likert scale (how satisfied they are with their supermarket, how well
this supermarket match their expectations, and finally, how close this supermarket
is to their ideal supermarket). An acceptable level of Cronbach alpha (a 0:945)
allowed the creation of an additional scale, which was used as endogenous variable
in the path model.

Table II.
Store image attributes:
exploratory factor
analysis

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718

Table III.
Store image attributes:
confirmatory factor
analysis

Figure 1.
Store image attributes:
measurement model

Standardized
regression
Convergent
Discriminant
weights
AVE
validity
(Corr)2
validity

Estimate

C.R.

Personnel
Presentation
Caring
Friendly
Knowledge
Number

1.000
1.091
1.031
1.091
0.945

14.474
12.960
13.857
9.686

0.696
0.755
0.673
0.691
0.451

Atmosphere
Temperature
Air cleaning system
Cleanliness
Smell

0.656
0.972
1.047
1.000

8.405
11.984
11.841

0.420
0.706
0.683
0.616

Products
Variety
Quality
Full shelves

1.000
1.146
0.925

10.254
9.119

Pricing
Prices competitors
Prices quality
Good prices

1.000
0.666
1.328

Merchandising
Easy finding
Colours
Labelling
In-store convenience
Corridors
Carriage

0.574

YES

0.216

YES

0.563

YES

0.278

YES

0.709
0.681
0.490

0.604

YES

0.152

YES

10.503
10.713

0.652
0.479
0.907

0.589

YES

0.080

YES

0.647
1.000
0.697

7.347

7.725

0.554
0.652
0.470

0.528

YES

0.278

YES

1.000
0.932

9.222

0.735
0.871

0.746

YES

0.181

YES

Notes: ( ) Indicates the initial parameter was set to 1.0 for model estimation purposes;
Abbreviations: AVE average variance extracted S (standard loadings) 2 /S(standard
loadings)2 S1ij; Conv Convergent validity (AVE . 0.50). Discriminant validity AVE/(Corr2)
.1. (Corr)2 highest correlation between the examined factor and the rest of factors

Supermarket
sector in Greece

719

Figure 2.
Store image attributes and
customer satisfaction
(initial model)

Data analysis: findings


After the methodological procedures, data analysis investigating the relationship
between store image attributes and customer satisfaction for the total sample was
conducted. The model consisted of the six store image dimensions as latent exogenous
variables and customer satisfaction as an endogenous observed variable (see Figure 2).
It should be noted that since this model is saturated, it showed a very good fit to the
specific data (CFI 0.913, GFI 0.931, AGFI 0.905, TLI 0.891 and
RMSEA 0.05). The results of the analysis produced a mixed picture regarding the
significance of estimated coefficients. Specifically, the estimated coefficients showed
that personnel (pers), pricing (pric), products (prod), in-store convenience (con) are
statistically significant. Atmosphere (atmos) and merchandising (merc) were found to
be non significant determinants of customer satisfaction (Figure 3).
The relative importance among the four significant variables influencing customer
satisfaction, were then examined. Following the direction of the research propositions,
the equality of the four significant coefficients for the total sample were examined
(x 2 23:811, p , 0:02, df 12). This result led to the conclusion that the four

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720

Figure 3.
Store image attributes and
customer satisfaction
(modified model)

coefficients were not equal. Three additional tests for invariance among all the possible
alternative couples of the four variables were then conducted:
(1) pers pric and prod con;
(2) pers prod and pric con; and
(3) pers con and prod pric.
As shown from the results in Table IV the examination of Dx 2 between the constrain
models and the unconstrained one, it is easily concluded that in the first and second
test the possible alternative pairs of variables statistically differ in the magnitude of
influence they had on customer satisfaction. However, the third testing which
involving the constraint pers con and prod pric, a non significant Dx 2 difference
value of 2.432 df 2 and p 0:296 was observed, which indicated that the
constrained model fitted the data as well as the unconstrained model. In other words it
can be concluded that the two pairs of variables personnel and in-store convenience as
well as products and pricing did not statistically differ in the magnitude of influence
they had on customer satisfaction.
The next stage of analysis, focused on the issue concerning invariance of path
relationships between the different profiles created on the basis of basic demographic
variables and consumer satisfaction. Demographics such as gender, age, educational
level, family cycle and the frequency of visiting a store are usually, in the practice of
retailing an aid in the construction of consumers profiles (Carpenter and Moore, 2006).

Goodness of fit measures

x2
Dx 2

Df
Ddf

Unconstrained model

GFI 0.945; AGFI 0.913;


CFI 0.947; TLI 0.927;
RMSEA 0.06

231.337

79

0.000

Test 1 (pers pric and


prod con)

GFI 940;AGFI 0.907;


CFI 0.941; TLI 0.921;
RMSEA 0.063

269.488
38.151

81
2

0.000

GFI 0.940; AGFI 0.901;


CFI 0.939; TLI 0.918;
RMSEA 0.062

270.281
38.944

81
2

0.000

GFI 0.946; AGFI 0.915;


CFI 0.948; TLI 0.930;
RMSEA 0.058

233.769
2.432

81
2

Test 2 (pers prod and


pric con)
Test 3 (pers con and
pric prod)

Supermarket
sector in Greece

721

0.296

In order to examine the relative importance among the demographic variables in


influencing customer satisfaction, several tests were conducted. Specifically, a t-test
result indicated that male and female did not differ in their satisfaction level (t 0:378,
p 0:706). Hence, gender emerged as a non significant determinant of customer
satisfaction. However, a significant between age-subgroups difference was observed
from ANOVA test results (F 6:883, p 0:000). Similarly, results for educational
level (F 3:138, p 0:044), family cycle (F 2:112, p 0:04), and shopping
frequency (F 21:037, p 0:000) showed a significant difference in each of the
demographic variable subgroups and customer satisfaction level. From the above it is
comprehensible that gender will no longer be considered in the data analysis.
So, in order to explore the possibility that different clusters of customers exist, a
hierarchical cluster analysis was performed, this included age, educational level,
family cycle and shopping frequency. Within this framework, three alternatives were
examined with three, four and five groups respectively in order to select the solution
that would best characterise the sample data (maximum external isolation and internal
cohesion). Furthermore, a variance analysis (ANOVA) was used where every variables
differences among the partial groups were checked according to the Duncan Multiple
Range test. Of the three alternatives that were examined, finally, the one with the four
groups seemed to be the more appropriate. The results of this specific solution are
shown in the Table V.
The first cluster contains the majority (34.4 per cent) of customers. This cluster
describes people that could be characterized as Typical. They are highly educated,
married with children and in the age category of 36-45. They shop in supermarkets
almost every week. The second cluster describes customers that could be characterised
as Unstable (22.1 per cent). These are single, highly educated, in the age category of
26-35 and shop once per fortnight or less. The third cluster (31.1 per cent), describes
customers that could be characterised as Social. These are married with children and
are the oldest 56 and over. They have a college or a vocational degree and are the most
frequent shoppers averaging two visits per week. Finally, the fourth cluster constitutes
the sample minority (12.4 per cent). They occasionally to seldom visit the supermarket,

Table IV.
Total sample
equality tests

Note: p 0.000

Married Children
36-45
High education
Often (one time /week or
less)

Typical

Family cycle
Age
Educational level
Shopping
frequency

Table V.
Cluster analysis results

(34.4%)

Unstable
Single
26-35
High education
Less often (one time/15
days-month)

(22.1%)

Social
Married Children
56
Medium education
Often (one time/week or
less)

(31.1%)

Occasional
Single
18-25
Low education
Seldom (Less than one
time/month)

(12.4%)

722

Variables

76.252 *

911.328 *
720.455 *
36.939 *

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thus, could be characterised as an Occasional customer. They only have a basic


education, are single and the youngest of all the clusters.
In order to examine the potential differences within the level of customer
satisfaction among the four clusters, a variance analysis (one-way ANOVA through
the test Duncan Multiple range test of Duncan) was employed. As shown from the
results of Table VI, the Social customer is most satisfied, followed by the Typical and
Occasional who enjoy almost the same level of satisfaction. In contrast the Unstable,
the second cluster, is the customer that is less satisfied.
This investigation then focused on the issue concerning invariance of the path
relationships among clusters identified earlier. In the preliminary single-group
analysis it was found that, for each group atmosphere and merchandising were
problematic; these variables were subsequently deleted. The results seem to suggest
that each clusters model fits the data well and indicated that the four stores attributes:
personnel, pricing, products and in-store convenience could be included in each cluster.
In order to see if the four store image dimensions had the same pattern of influence
on customer satisfaction in four subgroups, a multigroup analysis was subsequently
conducted.
In conducting a multigroup analysis, a key concern is whether the instrument is
cross-groups invariant. Measurement invariance refers to whether or not, under
different conditions of observing and studying phenomena (e.g. cultures, countries,
products, etc), measurement operations yield measures of the same attribute (Horn
and McArdle, 1992, p. 117). In other words, a major concern is whether differences in
demographic and frequency of shopping of the respondents reflect real differences in
causal relationships. Whilst there are various forms of invariance measurement, for the
purpose of this study a metric invariance test (i.e. invariance of path loadings) is the
relevant form (Steenkamp and Baumgartner, 1998). The metric invariance is a more
rigid type of invariance as it requires equal metrics across groups. Therefore the
following models were examined:

Supermarket
sector in Greece

723

Model 1. There are common factors for each of the four subgroups, but freed
elements are estimated without constraint.
Model 2. The path loadings are equivalent for the four subgroups (constrained
model) (pers1 pers2 pers3 pers4 con1 con2 con3
con4 prod1 prod2 prod3 prod4 pric1 pric2 pric3
pric4).
In order to evaluate whether each of the above models fits well, the chi-square
difference test was used as Model 2 is a nested of Model 1 (Joreskog, 1971). Using the

Typical
Unstable
Social
Occasional
Notes: p 0.000

Clusters
(%)

Consumer satisfaction
(Means)

34.4
22.1
31.1
12.4

3.84
3.77
4.04
3.85

F
6.679 *

Table VI.
ANOVA results
consumer satisfaction in
the different clusters

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724

Dx 2, the statistical significance of the difference in fit of the two models was examined.
The result of the Dx 2 test between Model 1 and Model 2 indicated that Model 2 was not
significantly different from the unrestricted Model 1 (Dx 2 3:909, df 15, p 0:000)
and Model 1 fits the data better, illustrating a non full metric invariance (four
coefficients of the variables were not equal).
A detailed examination of the estimated path coefficients showed that the pattern of
relationships between the store image dimensions and customer satisfaction produced a
mixed picture. As shown, Table VII for the typical, pricing and products are statistically
significant while coefficients for personnel and in-store convenience are not statistically
significant. A similar picture emerges for the unstable and social. These findings imply
that, in the typical, unstable and social customers, pricing and product are the major
factors affecting their satisfaction level. Conversely, personnel and in-store convenience
seem to be non critical factors of satisfaction. The occasional is different. Personnel,
pricing and product were significant while in-store convenience is not.
An additional test involving the constraint the equality of the path coefficients of
personnel and in-store convenience (pers1 pers2 pers3 pers4 con1
con2 con3 con4) and the path coefficients of Pricing and Products
(pric1 pric2 pric3 pric4 prod1 prod2 prod3 prod4) for the four
subgroups was conducted. The result of the Dx2 test between Model 1 and Model 2
indicated that Model 2 was significantly different from the unrestricted Model 1
(Dx 2 23:269, df 12, p 0:026) and Model 1 fits the data better.
The last test, concerns the constraint of the equality of the path coefficients of
pricing and products (prod1 prod2 prod3 prod4 pric1 pric2
pric3 pric4). A non significant Dx 2 value of 3.502, df 5 and p 0:623 was
observed, which indicated that the constrained model fits the data as well as the
unconstrained. As shown Table VII, Model 2 fits the data well and slightly better than
Model 1. Thus, it can be concluded that this studys model exhibited partial metric
invariance across the four sub-groups.
To summarize take in Table VII:
.
The effect of pricing and products was positive and equivalent for all clusters.
.
The coefficients of pricing and products are statistically significant for all
clusters.
.
The coefficient of personnel is statistically significant only for the occasional
customers.
Discussion
The analysis of the data in terms of methodology and formulation of the findings
followed three steps. The first step was to confirm the factor structure of measurement
items of store image attributes. The exploratory factor analysis (EFA) as well as the
confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) led to the detection of six factors which constitute
the supermarket store image attributes, titled: products, pricing, atmosphere,
personnel, merchandising and in-store convenience.
The relationship between store image attributes and customer satisfaction for the
total sample was then examined. All the latent variables (image attributes factors), part
of a model, showed an acceptable level of fit to the data, only four of the six variables
were statistically significant: personnel, pricing, products and in-store convenience. It

Note: p 0.000

Goodness of fit measures


x 2, df
Dx 2, Ddf, p

Personnel satisfaction
Pricing satisfaction
Products satisfaction
In-store con. satisfaction

Model 1 (unconstrained)
Unstable
Social
Occasional

Typical

Model 2 (constrained)
Unstable
Social
Occasional

Standardized loadings
0.132
0.103
0.484 *
0.102
0.132
0.033
0.422 *
0.361 *
0.443 *
0.316 *
0.396 *
0.361 *
0.400 *
0.403 *
0.446 *
0.389 *
0.259 *
0.283 *
0.446 *
0.278 *
0.233 *
0.033
0.138
0.092
0.191
0.033
0.156
0.112
AGFI 901; CFI 934; TLI 0.901;
GFI 914; AGFI 911; CFI 935; TLI 0.0904;
RMSEA 0.036
RMSEA 0.035
429.871; 240
433.373; 245
3.502; 5; 0.623

0.117
0.362 *
0.267 *
0.206 *
GFI 913;

Typical

Supermarket
sector in Greece

725

Table VII.
Comparison of goodness
of fit measures along the
two models

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726

seems that elements of the supermarket atmosphere (atmosphere) as well as the


presentation of goods (merchandising) do not have a significant impact on customer
satisfaction. Pricing and products are found to be the key determinants of customer
satisfaction, followed by personnel and in-store convenience. So, the first research
hypothesis Store image attributes (pricing, products, personnel, in-store convenience)
have a direct positive effect on customer satisfaction (H1) can be partly accepted.
In preparation for detecting segments within the sample (cluster analysis), the
behaviour of various sub groups, the demographic variables and the frequency of
visiting the supermarket in relation to customer satisfaction was examined. Gender,
one the most researched variables within marketing and retail literature was
eliminated from further analysis. No significant difference between genders concerning
the level of their satisfaction with the retailer offer was found. Age, family cycle,
education level and frequency of visit are the most important variables in determining
customers profiles. However, these variables can differentiate when considering the
level of satisfaction the customer derives.
Hierarchical cluster analysis, showed four clusters of customers: The typical,
unstable, social and occasional. It is evident that the identified clusters are the types of
customers we have seen in the supermarket: The retired person chatting with the
personnel, mostly in the fresh products section, The family-man with an almost full
trolley list in hand, crossing off items as he purchases them. The single person looking
for few but carefully selected products and the young person who is listening to the
latest hits on an mp3 player and shopping. Seeing this picture, it is presumable that we
found the social customer to be the most satisfied, followed by the typical and the
occasional who enjoy almost the same level of satisfaction.
Finally, in a third step, a multigroup analysis was conducted to investigate the
invariance between customers segments (clusters). The results of invariance analysis
indicated that the four store image attributes in the form of latent variables have
indeed a positive effect on customer satisfaction. This however, differentiates among
the four customers profiles. Thus, it can be concluded that the studys model exhibited
partial metric invariance across the four sub-groups when examining the total sample.
An examination of the estimated path coefficients showed that the pattern of
relationships between the store image dimensions and customer satisfaction produced a
mixed picture among the different profiles of customers. For all the four different profiles
the impact of products and pricing is statistical significant. The variety, quality and
assortment of products have a strong impingement on satisfaction as also shown in
previous studies. Conversely the pricing policy is still nowadays an important
determinant of customer satisfaction. Shoppers compare the pricing policy of their
preferred supermarket with competitors; evaluate the price-value relationship and always
seek the best prices in relation to product assortment and quality. In this study it is proved
that products and pricing are the core attributes of the supermarket store image. Retailers
have to invest in developing a differentiated policy having as a basis these two attributes.
In addition to the product and pricing attributes, personnel indeed affects the
satisfaction level of the occasional, who probably found personnel to be very
supportive and helpful. Simultaneously, they try to learn the supermarket layout in
order to facilitate shopping. The occasional customer most likely, has the luxury of
visiting the supermarket in out of crowd hours leading to a more rigorous evaluation
of store layout.

The three customer profiles who are the most crucial for the retailer as they
represent almost 88 per cent of the studys sample are not influenced by attributes such
as personnel and in-store convenience. Their frequency of visit leads them to take these
two attributes a priori since they expect to find adequate personnel in terms of service
and number. They are familiar with the supermarket they patronise, knowing its
layout and facilities. So, the third research proposition: the impact of store image
attributes on customer satisfaction will be varied among the different customers
profiles (H2) is accepted.
Conclusions
The results of the study present a significant contribution, for both scholars and
practitioners. First, the study reveals an interesting finding regarding the construct of
store image attributes and the interrelations between its distinct dimensions. Six major
attributes were highlighted: products, pricing, atmosphere, personnel, merchandising
and in store convenience. With regards to the validation of the instrument the
necessary psychometric attributes were provided. The implication from this
examination is a gain of deeper insight regarding the constructs dimensions, which
in turn, allows structuring the various attributes.
In addition, results demonstrated that store image attributes and satisfaction
relationships are robust in a Greek retail context. More specifically, results of the total
sample analysis showed that Greek customers evaluated store image as statistical
significant for their satisfaction levels. In particular, four of these six attributes
emerged as significant determinants of satisfaction. However, atmosphere and
merchandising did not have a significant impact on satisfaction formation.
These findings are in concordance with the human motivation and hedonic
shopping consumption theory (see Hirschman, 1980; Holbrook, 1980). More
specifically, the findings from this study would seem to suggest that visiting a
super market is more task-oriented and rational behaviour stimulated by
extrinsic/rational motivations (Babin et al., 1994). On the contrary, hedonic
stimulation (Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982) of the decision to visit a super market
appears to be only marginal, if existent at all. Consequently, experiential cues
(Groeppel-Klein and Germelmann, 2003) that do not relate with the utilitarian motives,
which appear to underlie the decision to visit a super market, have no significant
impact on the evaluation of the store and the on the customers decision to re-visit the
store.
Within this framework, one also had to bear in mind that customers develop specific
preferences for specific brands. Regardless whether such preferences are habitual or
demonstrate loyalty to the brand (Gounaris and Stathakopoulos, 2004), weaken the
consumers actual involvement with the stores atmosphere and aesthetics since they
enter the supermarket with a predetermined choice plan. In fact, the more the consumer
visits the store the more the stores environment becomes familiar and this strengthens
the consumers inclination to move the stores environment to the subconscious level:
Unless the store environment causes a substantial (negative or positive) surprise the
customer will not notice it (Spies et al., 1997).
Findings regarding the satisfaction levels reported by various subgroups
investigated in this study are also noteworthy. The investigation of age, educational
level, family cycle and shopping frequency results are a very useful typology of

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728

customers. Some findings within previous relative literature seem to slightly differ due
to changes in consumer behaviour. It was a little unexpected to find no gender related
statistical differences. This studys findings indicate that consumers transform and
inversely, differences are smoothed daily. Males are becoming more active
supermarket shoppers and their satisfaction does not differ from females (Dholakia,
1999).
Four clusters of customers were defined:
(1) the typical;
(2) the unstable;
(3) the social; and finally
(4) occasional.
The results demonstrated that the social is most satisfied, followed by the typical and
occasional who have almost the same levels of satisfaction. In contrast the unstable,
describes the customer that is less satisfied. This interesting typology gives the
opportunity to investigate the relationships between store image attributes and
customer satisfaction among different groups.
The invariance analysis results established that pricing and products was positive
and equivalent for all clusters. The variety, quality and assortment of the products
have a strong impingement of satisfaction. The pricing policy is a determinant as
customers compare prices of their preferred supermarket with competitors. The
price-value-quality relationship is a universal combination affecting all customers in
their level of satisfaction. Equally personnel affects the satisfaction level of the
occasional, probably due to the aid they require from supermarket staff as they do not
know the store layout and/or facilities.
These findings suggest a number of implications for supermarket managers. To be
more specific, the results expand the retail managers knowledge on consumer
behaviour which appears to be mainly task-oriented. In other words, supermarket
managers have to understand that their customers are driven mainly by utilitarian
motives. This means that their behaviour is characterised by task-oriented,
product-oriented and price rational motives leading them to give less
consideration to other store attributes. The lack of hedonic motivations cannot
influence shoppers to be impulse buyers, susceptible to the influence of supermarket
marketing tactics at the point of purchase. Unless these conditions are changed,
supermarkets possibly face a progressive commoditization of the experience they
offer and profit margins will decline as a result of decreased customer perceived store
differentiation.
Therefore, supermarket managers should stimulate hedonic shopping motivation in
order to influence shoppers to remain longer and buy more. This requires positioning
strategies and targeting a relatively small market (for instance exclusive delicatessen)
with an extra focus on hedonic motivations such as excitement, entertainment, fantasy,
and fun.
Limitations and further research
Although the study provides empirical fruitful insights, it is not without limitations.
The first is the focus of the study, the grocery sector. Thus, the results may not be

directly applied to other retail sectors, unless the study is replicated in different types
of retailing. Since the data of the study was collected from supermarkets in Greece, the
results of the study may not be directly applied to supermarkets in other countries. A
possible direction for future research is to conduct a similar study in other countries, or
continents to discover similarities and differences.
Another possible direction for future research, which would be particularly
welcome, is to examine and compare different types of retail stores such as discount
stores or supermarkets with different strategic positioning (Levy and Weitz, 2004). It
would be interesting to find how different positioning in the customers mind affects
their store attributes evaluation and satisfaction.
Furthermore, this study looked at the store image attributes at one moment in time.
However, store image differentiates over time, both as a result of experience with the
store and the market social/economic situation in general. It would be interesting to
study the same retailers at different moments in time.
Moreover, a possible direction for future research is the examination of the
relationship between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Even though there is
some evidence that store loyalty may be positively related to store image and customer
satisfaction (Bloemer and De Ruyter, 1998; Mazursky and Jacoby, 1986; Osman, 1993),
it has however remained unclear what the exact relationship between satisfaction,
store image and loyalty in a supermarket setting is.

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Kerin, R., Jain, A.J. and Howard, J.D. (1992), Store shopping experience and consumer price
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About the authors
Prokopis K. Theodoridis is a lecturer in Marketing in the Department of Business
Administration in Food and Agricultural Enterprises of the University of Ioannina. He holds
an MSc in Marketing (University of Stirling, UK) and was awarded a PhD from the Athens
University of Economics and Business. His primary research interests include the areas of Retail
Marketing, Services Marketing, Internal Marketing and Consumer Behaviour. Prokopis
K. Theodoridis is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: ptheodo@cc.uoi.gr
Kalliopi C. Chatzipanagiotou is an adjunct lecturer in Marketing in the Department of
Business Administration of the Athens University of Economics and Business. She received her
PhD in Marketing from the Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens. Her research
interests are in the areas of Services Marketing, Retail Marketing, Marketing Information
Systems and Tourism.

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