Given the undoubted importance of word-of-mouth (WOM) and viral marketing activity (VMA) for e-retail websites, the purpose of the paper is to examine the relationships between each of the loyalty stages (e.g. cognitive, affective, conative and action loyalty), as well as WOM and VMA. Using loyalty stages theory, a theoretical model was proposed and tested amongst the retail website customers. Data were collected from 509 e-retail customers using a questionnaire survey. Structural equation modelling was used to test the proposed hypotheses. Results found support for the loyalty stages theory. WOM activity was found to be significantly influenced by a consumer's conative and action loyalty, while increased affective loyalty stage was significantly related to VMA. Online retailers need to direct their efforts towards integrating the four components of the loyalty chain for enhancing the WOM behaviour and VMA. For enhancing the WOM behaviour of their website customers, online marketers need to strengthen their consumers' conative and action loyalty levels, and for enhancing the VMA, they should focus on enhancing the affective loyalty level. This paper contributes to the literature by identifying the differential impact of the loyalty stages on WOM and VMA.
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- electronic commerce
- viral marketing
- structural equation modelling