Motivations to Use Interactive Technologies in Marketing: A Study in Indian Service Businesses

Article excerpt

Interactive technology helps marketers to inexpensively engage consumers in one-to-one relationships fueled by two-way conversations via mouse clicks on a computer, touch-tone buttons on a telephone or surveys completed at a kiosk. Several organisations especially in services businesses are increasingly strengthening their marketing function by effectively interacting with their customers with the help of sophisticated interactive technologies in an integrated manner. Enough research in the usage or adoption of electronic data interchange (EDI) can be found both in information systems and marketing literature. A careful review of available literature further shows that the usage or adoption of Internet and e-mail has been studied in detail by various researchers across the world. Therefore, it appears that different interactive technologies have been studied individually by different researchers. We did not come across any study making an attempt to understand the motivation for usage of all adopted interactive technologies together in an organisation for the purpose of marketing activities in particular. This gap is wider when one tries to find out studies related to interactive technologies and their usage or adoption especially for marketing activities in a developing country like India. This paper attempts to understand the factors influencing the usage of interactive technologies in services businesses with the intention to derive implications for the development of interactive technologies to suit its intended users.

INTRODUCTION

Interactive technology helps marketers to inexpensively engage consumers in one-to-one relationships fueled by two-way conversations via mouse clicks on a computer, touch-tone buttons on a telephone or surveys completed at a kiosk. Interactive technologies include interactive telephony (Call centers, customer relationship centers, CTI, etc.), Internet (Interactive websites, customization enabled web sites, etc.) and digital technologies (multimedia kiosks, ATMs etc.). Pre - industrial society did not have the privilege of enjoying the benefits of such technologies and was based largely on agricultural economy and the trade of art and artifacts. During the agricultural days, most farmers sold their produce directly in bazaars. Similarly, artisans sold their art and artifacts in these markets. Consumers and producers gathered in a common place where producers traded their products face-to-face. The role of the producer was not separated from that of the trader, and the former functioned as both "manufacturer" and "retailer" for their own products. Also, producers and consumers developed strong relationships that led to production of customized products made by artisans for individual customers. Hence, direct interaction with cooperation, reliance, and trust was possible among marketing actors.

The emergence of mass production and mass consumption during industrialization resulted in key consequences. First, people moved away from small subsistence farms to jobs in industrial towns and needed retailers to supply an assortment of the basic conveniences of food, shelter, and clothing. Second, manufacturers were motivated to produce in mass quantities for achieving the economies of scale. These consequences led to the emergence of the transaction orientation of marketing whereby marketers became more concerned with sales and promotion of goods and less with building ongoing relationships.

The growth of a relationship orientation of marketing in the postindustrial era can be viewed as the rebirth of direct marketing between marketers and customers. Rapid advancement in information and communication technologies in general, and Internet based technologies in particular, is the key factor responsible for the impetus to direct marketing activities between marketers and customers. The technological revolution is changing the nature and activities of marketing function. Entry of Internet-based technologies into our society is making it easier for customers to interact directly with marketers. …