Contemporary challenges in direct selling

Sahin, Ebru

Dissertationsschrift_Ebru Sahin _24092019.pdf - Published

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-522636
Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2018
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Kraus, Florian
Date of oral examination: 26 September 2018
Publication language: English
Institution: Business School > Dr. Werner Jackstädt Stiftungslehrstuhl für ABWL u. Marketing IV (Kraus)
Subject: 330 Economics
Keywords (English): : multilevel image , direct selling , dispersed sales teams , customer attitudes
Abstract: This study uses a large-scale data set from major direct selling companies to analyze the influence of multilevel image on consumer attitudes and behaviors in the direct selling sales channel. Multilevel image refers to the image of a) the direct selling sales channel, b) the image of the participating companies and c) the image of their independent sales representatives. Our results suggest that multilevel image in direct selling is critically significant, as it can influence consumer attitudes and behaviors on all stages of the customer journey map – starting with the likelihood of contact with a channel and company, through product attitude, to purchase intentions. Furthermore, our analyses reveal that the salesperson has an unparalleled significance for customers in direct selling, meaning that there is a tendency that salesperson image matters more regarding customer attitudes and behaviors than channel or company image. The effect of multilevel image on customers is moderated by the prototypicality of the salesperson with reference to the company. Our analyses illustrate that salesperson prototypicality regarding the direct selling company has more favorable effects than salesperson prototypicality with the channel. This study provides important implications for theory and crucial insights for direct selling associations and companies. Key managerial implications are that the classic business model of direct selling – not including advertising and only focusing on salespeople as their main customers – may need some adaptations. Also, our results provide evidence that it would be beneficial for managers to improve the image, in particular of salespeople by advertising, training and the introduction of formal and informal management procedures. Furthermore, word of mouth communication of customers which is the key driver of lead generation in the channel, has to be properly influenced and elicited by independent sales representatives of the company.

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