Towards a Consumer-Centric Definition of Value in the
Non-Institutional Investment Context
Conceptualization and Measurement of Perceived Investment Value
Acta Universitatis Tamperensis No. 1726
By Pekka Puustinen
Tampere University Press
$82.50 Paper original
This doctoral thesis aims to establish a consumer-centric definition of value in the investment context explaining consumers’ evaluations in relation to investing. To achieve this objective, this research introduces the concept of Perceived Investment Value (PIV) that incorporates both desired and received value in the non-institutional investment context. The PIV is characterized as being based on perception and there for subjective experience and individual bases. Thus, the approach in this research to the concept of value is quite opposite to the notion of mainstream financial theories, where it is suggested that it is possible to assess investments’ value somehow objectively, namely as risk-adjusted return. The concept of perceived value is in the focus of this thesis also in due to its importance in current theoretical discourse on service in both academia and practice. Correspondingly, it is a concept of fundamental concern to marketing scholars and its importance is recognized e.g. by the Marketing Science Institute that named the concept as one of the most important research priorities for 2010–2012. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study that takes a comprehensive approach to value perceptions in the investment context.
Based on theoretical conceptualization, one qualitative study using the laddering procedure and network analysis (n = 95) and two quantitative studies using the survey method and structural equation modelling (n = 300 and n = 438), this dissertation concludes that also in the investment context the consumer is the one who in the end defines what kind of value there is. This research suggests that PIV is multi-dimensional construct that includes many types of value, which are best measured with six independent dimensions as follows (short descriptions); Economic PIV - Monetary Savings, is perceived economic value that is increased when premiums and management fees (monetary price) of an investment alternative are perceived to be low; Economic PIV - Efficiency is understood as a means to accomplish appropriate outcomes and profit considering the personal risk tolerance of the consumer; Functional PIV – Convenience is the perceived value of investing as the result of convenience; Emotional PIV – Emotions and Experiences is realized when the act of investing is appreciated in its own right, creating positive emotions, such as enjoyment, thrills, stimulation, and excitement; Symbolic PIV – Altruism is perceived when the act of investing provides a symbolic benefit, as consumers are able to express their personal values through the investing; Symbolic PIV – Esteem is experienced when symbolic features derived from investing are attached to the self in order to define and maintain one's concept of self.
In sum, this research shows that multiple value dimensions explain non-institutional investing behaviour better than do economic value items alone. Accordingly, if we accept the fact that investing is definitely more than an instrument for acquiring cash return, we are probably much closer to the ‘true nature’ of value in the investment context. On the basis of the research results, managerial implications provide guidelines for financial services providers on how to provide facilities that support consumers’ investment-related needs, and how to gain strategic benefit from consumer’s subjective evaluations. While the concept of PIV is by its definition consumer-centric and consumers define value, financial service providers can support consumers in their investment related activities. Thus economic and functional but also – and especially – emotional and symbolic dimensions of investing give fresh insights into these strategic decisions that enable investment service providers to deliver value to consumers and gain competitive advantage.
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