Magazine article Journal of Services Research

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

Magazine article Journal of Services Research

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

Article excerpt

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. Marketers are also becoming more knowledgeable about their customers at considerably lower cost with the help of sophisticated systems available for capturing the information related to each interaction with individual customers. This enables them to practice one-to-one marketing. Unlike the traditional media, interactive technologies present a unique opportunity for marketers as they facilitate two-way communication between the seller and buyer. Visitors at a corporate web site or a kiosk can communicate directly with the business without concern for distance or time. Thus organisations using these technologies as a marketing communication tool can now hear from the site's visitors in the form of a sale or customer feedback.

Success of any technology depends on the adoption by its expected users. The application of technology by the user in his / her environment also creates opportunities for further development. Enough research in the usage or adoption of electronic data interchange (EDI) can be found both in information systems and marketing literature (e.g. Bamfield 1994; Germain and Droge, 1995; Teo et al. 1995). 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 (e.g. Moon and Kim, 2001; Lederer, et al. 2000, Teo et al, 1999 and Taylor and Todd, 1995). Therefore, it appears that different interactive technologies have been studied individually by different researchers. …

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