Companies' competitive situation on the Internet

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Morten Schuster Andersen
  • Jens Halgaard Nielsen
The purpose of this master thesis has been to study how companies in different lines of businesses are positioning themselves in relation to the consumer’s new behaviour on the Internet and what opportunities and challenges this creates for the companies. The thesis begins with a historical summary of consumer behaviour throughout the last decades and ends up with a definition of a “conscious consumer”. It also concludes that the consumer’s new behaviour on the Internet to a high extent is based on conscious choices, which are deeply rooted in the information that is available to him on the Internet. With a rather small amount of literature present on the subject it was chosen to combine various sources of information with the aim of reaching a conclusion based on a solid foundation. A three-sided model consisting of visionary theories, statistics and an interview survey formed the foundation for the thesis. The three main theories showed various consumer types with different views on the consumer. Basically the consumer’s motivation or reason for buying products proved to be the difference between the theories. One of the theories argues for an intelligent, well-informed, rational and demanding consumer on the Internet. Where this theory finds the consumer very critical of advertisements on the Internet another sees opportunities in branding and loyal customers as well. The last theory takes this a step further and pleads that future consumers will become so prosperous that brand, signalling value; storytelling and putting products into contexts will be even more important and finally surpass the value of the product itself. The theories and the statistics about consumers’ use of the Internet was the starting point for compiling the interview guide used in a later series of qualitative interviews. The interviews with four quite different companies set the theories into another perspective in the analysis and showed among other things that the theories are based on a very narrow understanding of the consumer. It was pointed out that several factors were influencing the consumer’s information search process. It was among other things the consumer’s interest in the product; ability to find the information and to what extent the information is available. Furthermore, the analysis showed that the companies are facing a challenge to adjust themselves to the conscious consumers and the new market these constitute. The thesis concludes that companies have various opportunities in succeeding this, but the choice regarding the companies’ further online development needs to be made. One important decision concerns in what manner the company chooses to publish information and marketing on the Internet. Depending on the type of products being either unique or standardized the company with more unique products, about which only little information is available, have the opportunity to create conscious consumers by providing various types of information about products and the company itself. Companies with more standardized products have the opportunity to distance themselves from their competitors by creating value-added products according to the theories' advices and thereby being able to raise the products’ price tags.
Publication date2004
Number of pages145
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 6147225