Commitment, as Jones et al. outline, has some specific characteristics. First of all, it is targeted – a person can be committed to different things, including company’s product or the company itself. The subject of the commitment is, thus, what connects an individual with the organization through the person’s psychological attachment. Secondly, commitment may take different forms. Among them are affective, normative and continuance commitment. Each type of commitment has a different psychological basis. Finally, each of the three types of commitment generates “different effects on various relationship-related outcomes”. This means that, depending on which type of commitment a customer experiences, the individual is more or less likely to be willing to maintain the relationship with the subject of commitment. Similarly, the type of commitment determines how loyal that individual is to the brand or company, and how likely he or she is to abandon the brand or company.
Affective commitment, according to Gruen, Summers and Acito can be defined as a degree of customer’s psychological attachment to the commitment target. This type of commitment is based on customer’s positive feelings towards the subject of commitment and is a predictor of such responses as advocacy, co-production, willingness to pay more, as well as the number of purchased items. Therefore, in order to build affective commitment of a customer the company has to make sure its brand, product or service evokes positive associations. Such positive associations can be supported by good company image, its CSR activities, or simply well-designed advertising campaign. Normative commitment is based on person’s feeling of being obliged to the subject of commitment. This feeling is usually evoked by certain social norms and social pressure for acting in a certain manner. Feeling obliged, the customer is more willing to help the company by means of, for instance, paying more for its product, helping in some way or recommending the product to others, thus also helping the organization. This type of commitment is more appropriate for organizations that are able to devote their resources to serving some positive social projects. For instance, a company might tell that it will send part from the received revenue to hungry children of Africa. In this situation an individual might choose this particular company to buy from because he or she feels obliged to help the children. Continuance commitment is based on “perceived costs associated with terminating the relationship” (Jones et al. 2010, 24). If, for instance, there are no alternatives to some product, or the customer has already invested much into certain company, the customer may feel continuance commitment. The cost of switching to another brand (product, company, etc.) is considered by such a client to be too high. In comparison to emotional affective and moral normative commitment, continuance commitment is the most rational form of commitment. Continuance comm