Direct marketing : an analysis of consumers' characteristics and their perceptions of, and attitudes to mail-order speciality food in the UK
The objectives of this thesis are to establish a profile of the characteristics, perceptions, and attitudes of mail-order customers. In particular it identifies the differences between mailorder shoppers and non mail-order shoppers, investigates the structure and level of perceived risks associated with mail-order, and identifies the prime benefits provided by mail-order foods from the perspective of the consumer. Hypotheses are established to search for a profile of consumer behaviour in association with the objectives of this study. Both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies are employed. Regarding qualitative method, it involves interviews with eight mail-order speciality food company's managers and focuses on examining their current direct marketing practice. The quantitative research is based upon a mail survey of approximately 1600 mail-order food customers and non mail-order food customers. Based on the result of analysis, mail-order food shoppers are identified as self-indulgent in food, having higher level of education, qualification, and media exposure, and being more loyal in comparison with non mail-order shoppers. They tend to have negative opinions towards shopping and shopping environment or get less enjoyment from shopping. Moreover, for mail-order food shoppers, shopping is not seen as a social activity nor assistance from the shop is important. With respect to perceived risk, consumers perceived higher level of risk when they purchased through mail-order. Moreover, 'risk relievers' are found to reduce the level of the perceived risk although mail-order food shoppers and non mail-order food shoppers attach different levels of importance to these factors. In addition, this study also discovers consumers who purchase food from mailorder are attracted to either the product or to certain advantages associated with mail-order buying behaviour. As such, mail-order food shoppers are clustered into to sub-groups. Based on the results, marketing implications are addressed that minimise the perceived risks and maximise the product perceived value. Finally, the recommendations focus on the issues of the competitiveness of the product and the effectiveness and efficiency of direct marketing.