Measuring housing community customers' digital service usage: the effect of community identity

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Digital services provide the means to improve customer relationships and insight, enable co-creation of value, and disseminate word-of-mouth through digital channels all leading to stronger brand differentiation and higher customer lifetime value. Capturing the value from digital services requires that enough users adopt and frequently use the provided services. Therefore, understanding what affects the usage of digital services is paramount to digital marketing practice. Although several variables have been effectively used in explaining the usage behavior with digital services, none can capture completely the nature of this complex behavior process. The purpose of this thesis is to extend current understanding of consumer behavior within this domain by augmenting a widely accepted behavioral theory into a conceptual research model. A novel construct, community identity, is introduced as an external variable to Technology Acceptance Model, augmenting previously explored digital technology acceptance models. The data used in this study were collected through an online questionnaire targeted at customers of a large housing construction company. The questionnaire was sent to 3 455 customers, resulting in 355 responses with a response rate of 10%. Only respondents that were familiar with the company's eTalo digital service and were at the time of the study members of a housing community where this service was available, were qualified. Confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling were used in analyzing the data. The findings suggest that community identity was positively related to attitude toward use and perceived usefulness, which were positively related to the actual usage of the service. Also perceived ease of use was positively related to attitude toward use and perceived usefulness. The findings support the hypothesis that the strength of the community identity affects the usage of digital services offered to this particular community through consumers' attitudes and beliefs. The housing construction company should concentrate on improving the usefulness features and promoting the community identity in the marketing of their digital services in order to boost usage. As a conclusion, this study provides novel findings regarding the relationship between consumer communities and digital services. This has implications on marketing theory and practice as well as digital marketing, and supports the views of integrated marketing communications and cultural branding strategies.
community identity, digital services, structural equation modeling, technology acceptance model
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