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Are You the Home Away from Home Your Customers are Looking For?

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Are You the Home Away from Home Your Customers are Looking For?

Businesses that make people feel at home are more likely to attract loyal consumers, new research suggests.

The study revealed that when a businesses is authentic and the workers are friendly, it can feel like a second home for consumers, which can create a stronger bond between the business and its customers.

"People often feel strongly attached to particular places," wrote study co-authors Alain Debenedetti, of the Université Paris-Est in France; Harmen Oppewal, of Monash University in Australia; and Zeynep Arsel, of Concordia University. "Such places typically include their homes, but can also include commercial places such as stores and restaurants."

The researchers found that some study participants said they value authenticity and personal relationships and form strong emotional bonds when they feel comfortable with a business. It also helps if the business makes consumers feel safe and secure, protected from not only physical intrusions but also from pushy staff or aggressive promotional tactics.

"The place does not have to be an extravagant flagship store," the authors wrote. "People can build attachments with quite ordinary and even mundane places, as long as the place meets the above criteria of familiarity, authenticity and security."

The researchers also found that when the study participants bonded with a business, they were willing to make efforts or sacrifices to support it, including paying higher tips, volunteering to help it if necessary and serving as ambassadors who help draw new consumers to the business.

"Consumers treat their special place as a treasured gift and, in return, want to support the establishment beyond what is expected of them as customers," the authors wrote in the study.

The study was based on interviews with a sample of French consumers who talked about their experiences with such places as cafés, restaurants, department stores, concert halls and libraries, and the results may not apply to people of all nationalities and cultures.

The research is scheduled to appear in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.