Impact of Cross-Channel Strategy on Brand's Commitment: A Case Study in an Affordable Luxury Industry

Impact of Cross-Channel Strategy on Brand's Commitment: A Case Study in an Affordable Luxury Industry

Vincent Dutot (Paris School of Business, Paris, France)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJTHI.2016100105
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Abstract

The luxury sector as a whole is experiencing a delay in digitalization, both in store and online, while customers are more and more attracted by digital experiences. Strategies such as driving online customers into shops, or using the web to complete store information are increasing and integrated in what we call cross-channel strategies. This research aims to understand the determinants and impacts of cross-channel experience on brand's attachment, in an affordable luxury context. Based on a qualitative analysis (individual interviews with customers and experts) carried by the case of the brand Comptoir des Cotonniers; the results show the role of each channel in the purchasing decision. Moreover, it demonstrates the synergy between offline and online channels, as well as the development of experiential elements (online and in store) appear to be the key elements of brand's commitment.
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Introduction

For years, the main point of interaction between a company and its customers was the store. Then thanks to new technology, the relationship evolves to a more collaborative way and on different channels (mail, phone, online). Companies have now realized the importance of diversifying their acquisition strategies and communication channels in order to improve their customers’ loyalty. The fact that customers now use different channels to get information or to buy some products forces the firms to accelerate their way through cross-channels strategies.

Cross-channel strategy (CCS) can be understood as the superposition of traditional distribution channels (stores or catalogs) with new ones such as the Internet (Bèzes, 2014) and these strategies are deployed in almost every industry (from retail to tourism for example). From a strategic point of view, cross-channel will help enhance the customer’s experience by leveraging multiple channels and creating a hybrid channel. Customers may use various channels (online or offline) to carry their purchases; consequently, a cross-channel strategy can be seen as a continuation of the multi-channel strategy. Nevertheless, it adds an extra dimension to multi-channel distribution, where each channel is treated separately and independently.

CCS has mainly led to changes in the purchasing process as it has diversified it. The different phases of a purchase are no more dedicated to only one channel. The change in purchasing behavior is clear and customers have moved from an offline behavior, to web-to-store, store-to-web or finally totally on-line (Filser, 2001; Belvaux, 2005).

In order to meet their customers’ expectations, brands have generally developed cross-channel approaches to (1) better satisfy them, (2) get them into a complete experience with the brand (3) increase loyalty. The loyalty strategy is crucial as it is much more profitable for a company to retain their customers than acquiring new ones. Indeed, a loyal and satisfied customer is more likely to recommend the brand and create a positive word-of-mouth. Furthermore, experiential marketing allows the customer to maintain the brand’s relationship, increasing positive and memorable sensations (Lendrevie and Lévy, 2015). This experiential strategy will increase a brand loyalty (Frasquet, Ruiz-Molina, and Molla-Descals, 2015). However, in early studies on CCS none seem to integrate the links between online and offline channels or the relevance of customers’ experience during the shopping process, and even less in the luxury sector.

As far as luxury industry is concerned, even though it seems to get digitalized late compare to other industries, the potential of the Web is real. According to McKinsey (2015) by 2018, 20 billion euros should be spent online in this sector only. Loyalty themes and brand loyalty are just as important, so is the role of digital platforms in the purchase decision (one out of two luxury products sold would already be influenced by a review or a product seen online - McKinsey, 2015). Early research does not seem to agree regarding the relevance of digitalization of the sector. When some see an interesting vector (Okonkwo, 2010), others think that it will only weaken the brand (Bastien and Kapferer, 2012). This study seeks to investigate these gaps starting with the brand Comptoir des Cotonniers.

More specifically, our work aims to answer the following question: What are the determinants and impact of cross-channel experience on brand commitment in the luxury sector? The following issues also emerged: (1) What is the client's motivation to choose a particular channel in order to enhance his or her overall experience (sensory perception, cognitive, emotional)? (2) What are the effects of cross-channel’s strategy on customer satisfaction, word-of-mouth and customer loyalty?

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