Satisfaction is a result of a product related experience and reflects the overall opinion of a consumer’s experience with the product’s performance. It makes little sense to measure satisfaction on a product that has never been used.
Satisfaction can influence post-purchase/post-experience actions (such as word of mouth effects and repeat purchase behavior). Additional post-experience actions might include search behavior, changes in shopping behavior, and trial of associated products.
Satisfaction and attitude are closely related concepts. Attitudes and satisfaction may both be defined as an evaluation of a social object and the individual’s relationship to it. The distinction is that satisfaction is a “post experience” evaluation of fitness or utility of the product.
A consumer’s attitude (liking/disliking) toward a product can result from any product information or experience, whether perceived or real. It is meaningful to measure attitudes (but not satisfaction) toward a product that a consumer has never used.
A cognitive element is defined as an appraisal or conclusion that the product was useful (or not useful), fit the situation (or did not fit), and that it exceeded the requirements of the problem/situation (or did not exceed). Cognitive responses are specific to the situation for which the product was purchased and specific to the consumer’s intended use of the product, regardless if that use is correct or incorrect.
Consumers often think of dissatisfaction as being synonymous with regret or disappointment while satisfaction may be linked to ideas such as “it was a good choice” or “I am glad that I bought it.” When phrased in behavioral response terms, consumers indicate that “purchasing this product would be a good choice” or “I would be glad to purchase this product.” Often, behavioral measures reflect the consumer’s experience with other individuals associated with the product (i.e. customer service) and the intention to repeat that experience.