Understanding consumer services buyers based upon their purchase channel
Consumer services such as airlines and hotels include a proliferation of bookings through Internet-proprietary and Internet-third party sites. The other dominant channel for making airline and hotel purchases is via telephone. This research investigates differences in how buyers utilize the three channels in terms of internal and external price search, number of alternatives searched, brand loyalty, purchase frequency, risk of unavailability at the time of purchase, and Internet experience and usage. Results indicate that telephone buyers employ the least external search, consider the fewest number of alternatives during search, are the most brand loyal, are the most frequent buyers, and perceive the lowest level of risk of unavailability at the time of purchase. Conversely, Internet-third party buyers utilize the most external search, consider the largest number of alternatives, are the least brand loyal, are the least frequent buyers, and perceive the highest level of risk of unavailability. Managerial implications and suggestions for future research are provided.
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