Telecommunications Policy | 2019
Circulation of loyalty: Relationships between mobile instant messenger and offline character emoticon store
Abstract Mobile instant messenger (mIM) service providers are extending their online services to the offline platform. Asia s largest mIM service providers, LINE and Kakao, are brining life to its signature characters such that they appear not only on the text screen but also on offline character flagship stores. This study investigates mIM users motives in visiting the store and identifies the role of mIM characters in facilitating users loyalty toward the mIM service provider. To comprehensively understand users motivations in visiting the offline flagship store, the study conducted a focus group interview and used the confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to identify seven key motivations. The empirical findings are drawn from 332 Korean respondents that use the mIM service and have experience in visiting the character flagship store. The study finds that users who actively use mIM services and emoticons are likely to visit the store due to the identified factors. A virtuous cycle of loyalty from online to the offline platform, and vice versa was also found. Findings of this study confirm that mIM character flagship stores are a strategic way for mIM service providers to communicate with users and create their unique brand identity.