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Loyalty cards in the apparel industry in Germany and Spain: Is the implementation of a global marketing approach reasonable when operating both in a Southern and a Northern European country?

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Internationally operating apparel retailers are expanding throughout Europe (Noordhoff et al, 2004; Seock and Lin, 2011). To be able to cope with the fierce competition in the apparel retail industry, many retailers have implemented loyalty cards in order to keep current customers. Several retailers have opted for a global marketing strategy ...
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Internationally operating apparel retailers are expanding throughout Europe (Noordhoff et al, 2004; Seock and Lin, 2011). To be able to cope with the fierce competition in the apparel retail industry, many retailers have implemented loyalty cards in order to keep current customers. Several retailers have opted for a global marketing strategy which includes implementing loyalty cards with the same features in several countries (e.g. Hunkemöller, Promod, Esprit). This research is a comparative analysis of young adults, aged between 18 and 30, from a Northern European country (Germany) and a Southern European country (Spain). The objective is to determine if there are significant differences in attitudinal and behavioural patterns, as well as in preferences regarding the features of loyalty cards in the consumers of the two countries, to find potential success factors for retailers. In the first place, international apparel retailers have to decide which marketing approach they intend to follow. This may be either a standardised, etic marketing approach, which aims to have one overall marketing strategy for all countries, or a non-standardised, emic marketing approach, which aims to adapt the marketing strategy in every country to the local culture (Trommsdorff, 2009; Solomon et al, 2002). Research of consumer behaviour has shown that consumers are influenced by external stimuli (political, economic, social, technological) and consumer characteristics (cultural, social, personal) (Foscht and Swoboda, 2005; Kotler et al, 2009). Marketers have to be aware of these external influences in order to develop marketing strategies that appeal to the target market(s). By making use of the right marketing instruments, customer satisfaction and loyalty and, subsequently, long-term profitability can be established (Seock and Lin, 2011). Loyal customers have been shown to be more profitable to the company than continuously acquired new customers (Reichheld and Teal, 2001). In the literature, the distinction between attitudinal and behavioural loyalty is widely spread, and it will also be upheld in this research. One instrument often used in relationship marketing is the promotional tool of loyalty cards (Aßmann et al, 2008). There are different forms of loyalty cards, which differ in loyalty card type, in loyalty card functions and in target groups (Steffens, 2010). The image and efficacy of loyalty cards are highly controversial in the literature. Recent research […]
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