Imperial College London

Dr Omar Merlo

Business School

Assistant Professor
 
 
 
//

Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 9112o.merlo

 
 
//

Location

 

Business School BuildingSouth Kensington Campus

//

Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

18 results found

Duffek B, Eisingerich AB, Merlo O, 2023, Why so toxic? A framework for exploring customer toxicity, Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Review, Vol: 13, Pages: 122-143, ISSN: 1526-1794

Customers are increasingly empowered in their interactions with firms. Sometimes they help firms but, unfortunately, they can also become “toxic” and hurt them. Customers are toxic when they engage in deliberate and potentially harmful acts towards a firm driven either by a reparatory or damaging mental state following a transgression. Whilst the existing literature has studied customers’ negative actions against organizations, critical questions remain as to how and why customers become toxic. We structure a fragmented field of research on customer toxicity and explore customers’ mental state before they decide to do nothing (non-complainers), avoid the brand, act against firms with either a reparatory mental state—and, thus, often constructive in nature (e.g., to initiate change)—or with a toxic mental state and destructive objectives (e.g., to harm and punish a firm). We highlight that the impact of these actions on a firm can still be “toxic” even without intention of harming and punishing. Furthermore, we outline the conceptual domain of customer toxicity and shift the focus from negative behavior to customers’ mental state, by integrating the marketing, aggression, and psychology literatures. We discuss the theoretical implications of our study and explore how future work may further examine organizations’ interactions with toxic customers. Finally, we provide managerial recovery techniques depending on customers’ mental state at a particular time.

Journal article

Merlo O, Eisingerich AB, Hoyer WD, 2023, Immunizing customers against negative brand-related information, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Pages: 1-24, ISSN: 0092-0703

In today’s connected market, brands are more likely than ever to face negative press that can put their customers relationships to the test. Building and fortifying positive aspects of the brand-customer relationship (such as brand commitment, brand love and self-brand connections) may ward off some of the impact of negative information on customers, but this does not always provide full protection. Even customers who love a brand can turn against it when negative information enters the picture. Considering this, the current study provides an exploratory investigation into a new way to build up customer resilience that would otherwise not be formed simply by strengthening positive attributes of the customer-brand relationship. It argues that brands can strengthen their customers’ immunity to negative brand-related information by using an immunity metric (i.e., merely asking customers to reflect on their immunity makes them more resilient to actual negative information in the future). The construct of immunity has the dual benefit of being diagnostic of relationship strength, as well as acting as an immunizing agent. We test this effect and the process underlying it using three pilot studies, three multi-method studies, and interviews with customers and managers across different contexts. By doing so, the study establishes the theoretical and practical value of customer immunity to negative information and makes critical conceptual and pragmatic contributions to the existing body of customer research.

Journal article

Merlo O, Eisingerich AB, Gillingwater R, Cao JJet al., 2022, Exploring the changing role of brand archetypes in customer-brand relationships: Why try to be a hero when your brand can be more?, Business Horizons, ISSN: 0007-6813

For over two decades, managers have been encouraged to leverage archetypal meaning to strengthen their brands. Prior research has studied archetypes as universal patterns present in the collective unconscious that trigger an instinctive response in customers, and has argued that brands should evoke one archetype at a time. However, recent evidence seems to suggest that the single archetype view proposed in previous work may have lost its relevance in the marketplace. This study responds to calls for further research into brand archetypes by analyzing more than 2,400 brands and the archetypes they evoke in their marketing communications. The current findings provide support for the continuing relevance and importance of brand archetypes in marketing, showing that brands do connect with customers by evoking specific archetypes consistently. Critically, however, the study demonstrates that strong brands tend to leverage multiple archetypes at the same time, rather than just one. We explore key implications of our findings for theory and management. Avenues for future research and actionable guidelines for managers wishing to leverage archetypal meaning to build strong brands are discussed.

Journal article

Merlo OGL, Eisingerich A, Auh S, Levstek Jet al., 2018, The benefits and implementation of performance transparency: the why and how of letting your customers 'see through' your business, Business Horizons, Vol: 61, Pages: 73-84, ISSN: 0007-6813

While some organizations swear by the benefits of transparency and are eager to know how to implement it, many managers are still reluctant or even afraid to use it. Our research reveals that only a few innovative companies have taken steps to leverage a potentially useful form of transparency: the provision of accessible and objective information to customers (e.g., by sharing unbiased benchmark data, publishing unfiltered customer comments, or providing candid product reviews that may praise but also criticize the company’s products). Our study also shows that that many companies remain wary and view greater calls for transparency as a challenge to be managed rather than an opportunity to be traded upon. This is partly due to limited research into the performance benefits of giving customers access to objective information, and lack of practical guidelines on how to actually implement it. The current study addresses these shortcomings: first, by investigating whether performance transparency leads to customer outcomes that can be profitable for an organization; and second, by analyzing the characteristics of successful transparency initiatives in a wide range of industries. The research shows that customers exhibit more trust and are willing to pay a premium to deal with transparent businesses. Also, it uncovers seven effective approaches to implementing transparency. The key contributions of the study are therefore the provision of convincing empirical evidence about the benefits of performance transparency and ways in which management may implement it successfully.

Journal article

Dong L, Eisingerich A, Merlo O, 2017, Identity Work and Its Influence on Institutions: From Criminal to Success, Academy of Management Annual Meeting, ISSN: 2151-6561

Conference paper

Dong L, Merlo O, Eisingerich A, Tracey Pet al., 2016, Shadow Institutional Field: The Case of the Counterfeit Industry in Guangzhou China, Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Publisher: Academy of Management, ISSN: 2151-6561

Conference paper

Eisingerich A, Merlo O, Heide J, Tracey Pet al., 2015, Customer Satisfaction and Purchase Behavior: The Role of Customer Input, 16th Biennial World Marketing Congress on Looking Forward, Looking Back - Drawing on the Past to Shape the Future of Marketing, Publisher: Springer, Pages: 220-220, ISSN: 2363-6173

Prior work emphasizes the role of satisfaction and positive word-of-mouth in affecting customer behavior. This research introduces customer input as an additional important mediating variable and driver of actual customer behavior. Specifically, we combine survey-based data with behavioral data to show that the impact of satisfaction on customer behavior is fully mediated by customer input, while word of mouth acts as a partial mediator in the satisfaction-customer behavior relationship. We thus reveal that the effect of customer satisfaction on actual behavior is contingent on levels of customer input. Furthermore, we demonstrate that satisfaction affects customer input, which ultimately leads to greater future customer purchase from a firm. The results of the study empirically demonstrate that customer participation plays an important role in understanding how satisfaction influences actual customer purchasing behavior.

Conference paper

Liu Y, Eisingerich AB, Auh S, Merlo O, Chun HEHet al., 2015, Service Firm Performance Transparency: How, When, and Why Does It Pay Off?, Journal of Service Research, Vol: 18, Pages: 451-467, ISSN: 1552-7379

Calls for increased transparency and reduced information asymmetry between service firms and their customers are getting louder in the marketplace. Yet, it remains unclear what exactly constitutes transparency in the eyes of customers and how, if at all, service firms benefit from it. This research contributes to extant knowledge by articulating the key properties of service firms’ performance transparency and by developing and validating a parsimonious scale to measure it. We show that through a reduction in customer uncertainty, the provision of accessible and objective information about a firm’s service offering is positively associated with customers’ intention to purchase and willingness to pay a price premium for its service. Furthermore, we find that the positive effect of performance transparency is influenced by customers’ perceptions of a firm’s ability to deliver on its service promise. An important managerial implication of the current research is that performance transparency benefits customers by lowering uncertainty, and hence service firms should proactively consider it as a critical measure that helps differentiate their services from competitive offerings, even when customer perceptions of a service firm’s ability are low.

Journal article

Eisingerich AB, Auh S, Merlo O, 2014, Acta non verba? The role of customer participation and word of mouth in the relationship between service firms’ customer satisfaction and sales performance, Journal of Service Research, Vol: 17, Pages: 40-53, ISSN: 1094-6705

Evidence has shown that satisfied customers do not necessarily buy more of a company’s products and services, thus spurring researchers to look for a missing link between customer satisfaction and purchase behavior. Word of mouth (WOM) has been advocated as the elusive missing link and as a key indicator of customer-firm relationship strength. Yet, WOM is only one type of customer voluntary performance (CVP). In this study, a second type of CVP, namely customer participation (i.e., customers’ willingness to provide the firm with constructive feedback and suggestions), is argued to be crucial to ensure that a satisfied customer repurchases. The authors develop and test a model that predicts that satisfied customers repurchase when they become productive resources through two spontaneous and cooperative customer behaviors: WOM and participation. The empirical findings support the predictions, thus complementing and extending previous research. This research suggests that while WOM has been heralded as an important factor in firm growth, another factor that is at least equally if not more important to future sales is customer participation.

Journal article

Merlo OG, Eisingerich A, Auh S, 2014, Why Customer Participation Matters, MIT Sloan Management Review: MIT's journal of management research and ideas, Vol: 55, Pages: 81-88, ISSN: 0019-848X

These days, many businesses are focused on increasing customers’ positive word of mouth. But emphasizing customer participation may be a more important vehicle for generating valuable repeat business.

Journal article

Merlo O, Lukas BA, Whitwell GJ, 2012, Marketing's reputation and influence in the firm, Journal of Business Research, Vol: 65, Pages: 446-452, ISSN: 0148-2963

Journal article

Merlo O, Auh S, 2011, The power of marketing within the firm: its contribution to business performance and the effect of power asymmetry, Industrial Marketing Management

Journal article

Merlo O, 2011, The influence of marketing from a power perspective, European Journal of Marketing, Vol: 45, Pages: 1152-1171, ISSN: 0309-0566

Journal article

Merlo O, Auh S, 2009, The effects of entrepreneurial orientation, market orientation, and marketing subunit influence on firm performance, Marketing Letters, Vol: 20, Pages: 295-311, ISSN: 0923-0645

Journal article

Merlo O, Lukas BA, Whitwell GJ, 2008, Heuristics revisited: implications for marketing research and practice, Marketing Theory, Vol: 8, Pages: 189-204, ISSN: 1470-5931

Journal article

Merlo O, Bell SJ, Menguc B, Whitwell GJet al., 2006, Social capital, customer service orientation and creativity in retail stores, Journal of Business Research, Vol: 59, Pages: 1214-1221, ISSN: 0148-2963

Journal article

Bell SJ, Mengüç B, Merlo O, 2004, Social capital, customer orientation and creativity in retail stores, International Conference on Service Systems and Service Management, Publisher: INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC PUBLISHERS LTD, Pages: 844-849

Conference paper

Merlo O, Eisingerich AB, Shin H-K, Britton RAet al., Avoiding the Pitfalls of Customer Participation, MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW, Vol: 61, Pages: 10-12, ISSN: 1532-9194

Journal article

This data is extracted from the Web of Science and reproduced under a licence from Thomson Reuters. You may not copy or re-distribute this data in whole or in part without the written consent of the Science business of Thomson Reuters.

Request URL: http://wlsprd.imperial.ac.uk:80/respub/WEB-INF/jsp/search-html.jsp Request URI: /respub/WEB-INF/jsp/search-html.jsp Query String: respub-action=search.html&id=00565661&limit=30&person=true