Multiple marketing channel conflict with a focus on the internet
Abstract: The emergence of electronic commerce has led more and more companies to, in addition to using resellers, add the Internet to sell directly to its end customers, something that inevitably will create channel conflict. The way companies handle such conflict is considered an important success factor. The importance of this issue, along with the lack of research focusing upon it, created the foundation for this study. In addition to the dysfunctional aspects of conflict, this study aimed at capturing the functional aspects of conflict as perceived by management. Hence, the research problem of this thesis was to explore and describe managers' perspectives on conflict in multiple marketing channels, with a focus on the Internet. Based on the literature review, a frame of reference was created comprising both text and a graphical display, which defined the boundaries of this research. An interview guide with open-ended questions was then developed from the frame of reference to address the following issues: 1) the causes of channel conflict; 2) how the seriousness of channel conflict can be assessed; and 3) the approaches that can be used to reduce channel conflict. A qualitative research approach was adopted and case studies were conducted. The empirical data were collected through personal interviews at Ducati and Scandinavian Airlines. Even though the respondents described some channel conflict, it must be noted that the management of both companies emphasized that they have a very good working relationship with their resellers, although on rare occurrence they have encountered problems. Furthermore, although they had experienced some conflict due to the addition of the Internet, there was no more channel conflict because of the Internet than before that channel was added. In addition, the Internet can in fact reduce channel conflict, as both companies referred to the use of an Extranet for this purpose. Results from this study also indicate that one of the generally accepted causes of channel conflict-differing perceptions of reality-should be replaced with communication problems, since differing perceptions of reality seem to be the result of poor communication. Moreover, when assessing whether a channel conflict has positive or negative implications for a company, it seems that one important factor to look at is its impact on the company's brand.
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