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Marketing Luxury Goods Online

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Philipp Nikolaus Kluge

The marketing of luxury goods faces a fundamental challenge: balancing sales growth against exclusiveness. In today’s digital world, this trade-off has become even more challenging. A luxury brand’s fragile concept of exclusiveness is seemingly incompatible with the ubiquitous availability provided by the mass medium Internet. The author addresses this trade-off both conceptually and empirically. First, the author conceptually examines the specific marketing-mix for luxury goods in terms of product, price, communications, and distribution management. Second, this marketing-mix is applied to the online environment. Third, the author empirically tests the effects of the online accessibility of luxury goods on consumer perceptions of scarcity and desirability.

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7. Experiment 1 – Online Accessibility

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7.  Experiment 1 – Online Accessibility

The suitability of the Internet as a channel of distribution for luxury goods is controversially discussed in business press (Chapter 1.1), among scholars (Chapter 4.5) and luxury industry experts (Chapter 5). The ubiquitous accessibility of the mass medium Internet is seemingly incompatible with the fragile perception of exclusiveness of luxury brands. In particular, based on conceptual und theoretical considerations (Chapter 6) we hypothesize that the online accessibility of luxury goods negatively affects consumer perceptions of scarcity (H2), which, in turn, are assumed to be a fundamental driver of a luxury brand’s desirability (H1). Apart from this hypothesized dilution-effect of online accessibility on perceived scarcity, we assume that the possibility to shop online actually increases perceived transaction convenience (H3) and thus willingness-to-buy (H4). Finally, we hypothesize a positive relationship between brand desirability and willingness-to-buy (H5; see Chapter 6 and Figure 59 for a detailed hypotheses development).

We empirically test these hypotheses in the following Chapters 7 and 8. In the first experiment (Chapter 7) we examine how consumer perceptions of scarcity and convenience vary depending on whether or not consumers are given the possibility to shop online. In addition to testing consumer responses to the two extremes “can shop online” and “cannot shop online”, we are also interested in testing alternatives that might potentially mitigate the hypothesized dilution-effect of online accessibility on perceived scarcity. More specifically, in our series of expert interviews (Chapter 5) we identified approaches designed...

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