Consumer behavior is defined by the American Marketing Association as the dynamic interaction of affect and cognition, behavior, and the environment by which human beings conduct the exchange aspects of their lives (Kotler & Keller, 2008). Schiffman and Kanuk (2006) added that consumers base their purchasing decisions on the value they perceive the product to have, rather than its actual value.
To provide the products that consumers will value, a product needs to be differentiated from other products, either in terms of service attributes or in terms of price.
According to Kotler &Keller, (2008) positioning a product implies differentiating one product or offering from another in terms of attributes that are meaningful to customers and that give the offering a competitive advantage. It is therefore critical that organizations understand the service attributes that customers rate as most important, in order to provide them with the most appropriate mix of services, whilst optimizing revenue.
The previous sections of this chapter provides an overview of the airline industry, the airline passengers segmentation, the nature and state of airline research.
In this section, a literature analysis is done to determine the service attributes that are valued by customers in air travel market, and therefore determine the factors that passengers valued most when selecting an airline for their flight.
The review firstly considers the international literature pertaining to the factors that consumers take into account when deciding between a full service airline and a low cost carrier. Observably, numerous studies have been conducted on this subject and the literature that was used for the overview was selected based on firstly, being the most recent studies, secondly, frequency of citations and thirdly, the contribution to the body of knowledge.
Although every attempt was made to be as comprehensive as possible in this section, studies that resulted in similar findings to those already analyzed were reluctantly omitted to avoid unnecessary repetition. This section aims at identifying as many service attributes and other elements that impact passengers airline selection as possible. The purpose is to ensure that when the Nigerian domestic airline market is analyzed, as many as possible factors that influenced passengers choice decision are properly well-thought-out.
The second issue considered in this section associated literature regarding the factors that passengers value in airline services. The literature used in this section was a wide range of literature regarding numerous aspects related to customer valuation of airline service attributes, but did not specifically cover the differences between full service airlines and low cost carriers. The purpose of this section was to ensure that all service attributes that were taken into account by customers were covered. A selection of seven initial studies is comprehensively analyzed and described. As findings started to converge or be repeated, an overview of further most relevant studies is provided. Although numerous other sources were found, none added novel ideas to the existing descriptions and no further literature was therefore analyzed. The purpose of this section of the review was to supplement the service attributes and other elements identified in the first part of this literature review.
The third section of this chapter is a description of the Nigerian literature. Comprehensive library, database and internet searches were conducted and although it is possible that some relevant studies were omitted, indications are that the majority of the local academic literature pertaining to service attributes and other elements that airline passengers value most in Nigeria in particular are described here. The purpose of this section is to ascertain whether there are service attributes that are uniquely valued in Nigeria and identify gaps in the existing body of knowledge.
The overall purpose of this review is therefore, first of all to determine the service attributes that passengers considers most when selecting an airline. As a secondary outcome of this section, the demographic features and other elements that significantly impact the passengers airline selection are identified. In the third instance, the existing studies are analyzed to assist in determining the uniqueness of this study. Finally, the significant service attributes and demographic features that influence the service attributes that are taken into account in airline demographic features that influence the passengers airline selection are identified for the purposes of defining the survey instrument to be used for this study.
It is recognizable that several studies have been conducted into the analysis of the factors influencing passengers selection of an airline model. For the purposes of this section, as many of these studies as possible were identified, reviewed and analyzed, in order to provide a comprehensive impression of the most recent research in the field. To ensure that the most recent research in the field was used and because as has been stated by Belobaba, et al., (2009), most of the major growth in the airline industry has occurred since the beginning of the millennium; only studies conducted published after the year 2000 were considered.
There are many studies that consider the service attributes that passengers take into account or value in their decision-making processes when selecting an airline. This section attempt to highlights some of the most important studies that have been done on passenger selection processes and criteria, when passengers are faced with a selection of airlines. The section will also highlights a few other studies that have been done into the value that customers place on certain airline service attributes. This is done in order for the reviewed studies to provide insights into the customer valuation of service attributes. It should be noted that there are innumerable studies in this regard and only a small selection of the most prominent studies are described, as the findings of the studies converged as more studies were added. The studies are presented in an alphabetical order in the subsection below.