Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Ponder, Nicole

Committee Member

Lueg, Jason E.

Committee Member

Collier, Joel

Committee Member

Ragsdale, Kathleen

Committee Member

Taylor, Ronald D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Business


Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law


The focus of much marketing research for the past two decades has been on the role of consumption in consumers’ lives. Relationships with products, brands, and favorite possessions have captured the interest of researchers and practitioners. More recently the concept of brand love has emerged to describe the lengths to which some consumers will go to maintain relationships with certain consumed objects. But is consumer love contained only to favorite brands or might there be different types of love as in interpersonal relationships? This dissertation presents a case for the development of one type of consumer love – customer chemistry, the consumer process of forming a positive, environmentally-derived attachment to a retailer. Because the concept of customer chemistry is new, this dissertation employs a methodical approach necessary for building theory. Essay One (Chapter Two) explores the reactions of consumers to a select group of retailers. Through analysis of their reactions to various retail servicescapes, the researcher draws conclusions regarding the levels of importance that consumers place on specific elements of the retail experience. Essay Two (Chapter Three) delineates the bridging laws that allow for theory development. Conclusions from the previous essay inform the creation of a model that describes the customer chemistry process and allows for prediction of specific antecedents and outcomes. The model is tested using structural equation modeling (SEM). With customer chemistry established empirically, Essay Three (Chapter Four) explores the purpose that customer chemistry serves in consumers’ lives. Modified consumer life histories describe customer chemistry in the context of life narratives, suggesting that customer chemistry plays an important role in identity construction. While the concept of consumption serving an identity creation purpose for consumers is not new, the idea that a place (in this case, a retail store) can serve that purpose is unique to this research. This dissertation argues for a better understanding of consumers’ relationships with loved retailers and suggests several avenues for future research. The surface ofa broad phenomenon has only been scratched, but important groundwork is laid for the development of a rich stream of research, one that can benefit researchers, practitioners, and consumers.