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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2016
Thesis number: 14397
Consumer purchase journeys in multiple channels: A consumer-centric approach
Author: Vilppula, Mari
Title: Consumer purchase journeys in multiple channels: A consumer-centric approach
Year: 2016  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; kuluttajakäyttäytyminen; consumer behaviour; kokemus; experience; ostot; industrial purchasing; shoppailu; shopping
Pages: 109
Full text:
» hse_ethesis_14397.pdf pdf  size:2 MB (1743874)
Key terms: multichannel shopping; omnichannel; purchase journey; consumer experience
As multichannel and omnichannel retailing become imperative themes for today's retailers and for marketing literature, the consumer's perspective to the phenomenon should be stressed further. Hence, the goal of this research is to describe the journeys that consumers experience while shopping in multiple channels. This description is experiential, holistic and consumer-centric. The sub-goal is to find the motivations for consumers to engage in multichannel shopping. The research paradigm is experiential phenomenology and the data for this qualitative research was collected with 8 open interviews and altogether 12 stories of multichannel shopping of medium and high involvement goods.

The main finding is that the participants engaged in multichannel shopping to ensure product quality. They were demonstrating this by trying to find a product that they would be still using after some times has passed, by evaluating how long the product would last without breaking, by trying to find a reliable channel for the purchase, by finding out other people's experiences and opinions, and by buying from a brand they already trust. Another behavior showing from the data was following the market as a hobby or as a habit - as opposed to purposeful research-shopping. Some of the research participants also purposefully aimed to switch companies during their journeys to gain better picture of the product offering and pricing. Some participants, however, were locked in to the channels of one particular retailer, which would indicate that company lock-in can be achieved.

The research findings support the notion that consumer chooses the channel for a certain purchase stage, learns from the experience and this learning influences both consumer's task definition and personal factors. The findings also support that in addition to task definition and personal factors also situational factors, channel attributes, social influence and retailer or brand actions act as determinants of channel choice, and influence how the multichannel purchase journey is formed. However, as the research is exploratory in nature, further research is needed in order to apply this to the general audience.

In order to understand their multichannel customers better, retailers and brands should gain insight on what stage and purpose are their customers filling in each of the retailer's channels and what other channels they may be using. The recommendation is to evaluate whether company lock-in and a seamless omnichannel experience would be possible to create, and to which group of customers. Indicators of quality can be added to channels to better fulfill the consumers' need for ensuring product quality. For further research, evaluation on the theoretical framework and the determinants of channel choice, for example in a quantitative manner, is in order.
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