Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Schools and Centres

Business

First Supervisor

Dr Russel Kingshott

Abstract

Marketing has developed from using a simple transactional model to a more sophisticated relational orientation model. Selling and marketing practices are different according to the culture of a country, purchasing power parity, economical situations, political conditions, the demand versus supply gap ratio and the socioeconomic conditions of the market place. Academics have translated these factors into a simple sales discipline. However, every region and country has its own style of business.

The business problem in this study was to understand ‘how retailers develop effective marketing strategies to increase the consumer’s propensity to buy high-tech products from their retail stores in a declining product life-cycle?’

Three research questions were set for the study:

1) Does Relational Marketing (RM) have a role in the adoption of high tech products in the technological retail industry?

2) What impact does the Retail salesperson have on the adoption of high-tech products?

3) What impact does the retailer have on the adoption of high-tech product purchasing?

In-depth answers have been provided as to whether relational theory is important in today’s global market place where consumers feel confident and emotionally attached to a respective retail outlet. Also, the importance of the relationship of consumers with salespersons and the retail store to gain benefits or otherwise has been determined. The research addressed the issue of whether present retailers, along with their professional salespeople, have adopted the relationship marketing (RM) strategy in their selling process to help consumers reach their purchasing decisions.

The major objective of RM is to reduce available market choices and engage in relational market behaviour by attracting the same marketer in subsequent choice situations. The current research confirmed previous research that consumers like to reduce their available choices and engage in relational market behaviour because they want to simplify their buying and consuming tasks, simplify information processing, reduce perceived risks and maintain cognitive consistency and state of psychological efforts. In addition, as time becomes a very valued asset in the busy lifecycle of modern people, they want to have easy access to the information and, ultimately, decide on their specific purchase once they have established their need for a product or service. Also, it was found that they engage in relational market behaviour because of family and social norms, peer group pressure, government mandates, religious tenets, employer influences and market policies. Findings supported the argument by academics that the willingness and ability of consumers and marketers to engage in relational marketing leads to greater marketing productivity, unless either the consumer or marketer abuses their mutual interdependence and cooperation. Relationship marketing is a win-win situation for both consumer and marketers.

The research indicated that today’s retailers are managing their customer relationships aggressively and effectively. The retailer’s strategy of relationship marketing (RM) is helping consumers take the ultimate decision in purchasing. Whereas traditional transaction marketing was dominant with retailers focused on acquisition and making transactions as quickly as possible, modern retailers use the relationship marketing strategy by considering the long term benefits of loyal consumers. Customer for life is the philosophical agenda of most top managers, so that organisations reap the fruits of consumer loyalty over a decade. Currently, retailers focus on delivering superior service quality to satisfy their customers, to differentiate themselves from the competition and to build a steady customer base by focussing on customer retention.

The research was carried out in six countries and data collected and analysed as composite data; however, the data also can be used to compare purchasing power and consumer behaviour in future research. The hypothetical conceptual model designed for current study was confirmed by the research as comprising seven constructs and their relationships; viz., purchase intent, retail store image, salesperson likeability, relationship orientation, trust in salesperson, commitment to retail store and involvement of consumer. A two-step structural equation modelling procedure was used as the primary statistical technique to test the hypothesised relationships.

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