Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods

Identification and Motivation of Participants for Luxury Consumer Surveys through Viral Participant Acquisition

Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods

Identification and Motivation of Participants for Luxury Consumer Surveys through Viral Participant Acquisition

Article excerpt

1. Introduction: Catching a mysterious target group

Although there is a growing base of literature on the marketing of luxury products, it still contains only a relatively small amount of large-scale luxury consumer surveys (LCS). Many researchers hesitate to target luxury consumers for two fundamental reasons. First of all, there is still no recognized definition in business literature as to what constitutes a luxury consumer, leading to confusion as to how they can be distinguished from non-luxury consumers and ultimately, how to identify them for empirical studies.

Besides this, another challenge is to access and to motivate luxury consumers to participate in a survey. While there are well-funded researchers who try to attract adequate participants with monetary incentives, many researchers lack the financial resources for paid surveys or have to supervise student projects, which also suffer from limited access and funding. This explains why a big part of LCS relies on relatively easy-to-reach student samples. However, the specific characteristics of luxury consumers including their high income, their lack of time and their luxury connoisseurship suggest that samples made up of paid survey workers or students might not be representative of that particular target group. For instance, it is questionable whether moderately paid surveys really attract wealthy heirs or busy managers, or if students, who are appropriate in many other areas of research, are really able to assume the role of experienced luxury consumers.

Despite these problems, no article could be found in the literature, which addressed either the identification or the motivation of respondents for LCS. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to categorize and to discuss the means of identification and motivation of participants for LCS based on an analysis of existing LCS.

The resulting framework suggests thinking about some non-monetary incentives that could convince luxury consumers to participate in a survey in their own interest. As this idea coincides with the notion of viral marketing, it seems promising to adapt this concept for viral participant acquisition (VPA). Consequently, another objective of this paper is to test VPA on a recent LCS and to provide some lessons learned.

The paper is organised into another four sections. Based on a definition of luxury products and brands and a literature analysis of existing LCS, section 2 presents a categorization of the major research objectives, target groups, and identification methods for LCS. It further introduces the luxury consumption and the luxury affection scales, which allow for the identification of any LCS target group. Section 3 presents an overview of common methods of participant motivation and discusses their suitability for LCS, which leads to the idea of adapting the concept of viral marketing for participant acquisition. Consequently, section 4 presents a case study detailing the implementation of VPA on a recent LCS. Finally, the article concludes with the lessons learned.

2. Identification of participants for luxury consumer surveys

2.1 The definition of luxury products and brands

In management literature it is accepted to distinguish necessary or ordinary products from luxury products by their essential characteristics. Accordingly, luxury products are characterised by their price, quality, aesthetics, rarity, extraordinariness, and symbolic meaning.

As they are highly associated with their core products, common definitions of luxury brands refer to specific associations with their products. The essential characteristics of luxury brands therefore correspond largely with those of luxury products. Consequently, their definition can be derived from that of luxury products as follows: Luxury brands are regarded as images in the minds of consumers that comprise associations about a high level of price, quality, aesthetics, rarity, extraordinarity and a high degree of further non-functional associations (c. …

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