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A STUDY ON ONLINE MARKETING

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INTRODUCTION

Over the past few years, there has been an explosion in the online world - an explosion that is also a harbinger of how business will operate in the future. Supply chains are being rethought, products and services reconfigured, and business models revamped. As such, the Internet is having a profound impact on the way business is being conducted in ways that are often disruptive to traditional methods. This is creating new challenges and opportunities. The Internet provides the opportunity for companies to reach a wider audience and create compelling value propositions never before possible (e.g. Amazon.com range of 4.5 million book titles), while providing new tools for promotion, interaction and relationship building. It is empowering customers with more options and more information to make informed decisions. The Internet also represents a fundamental shift in how buyers and sellers interact, as they face each other through an electronic connection, and its interactivity provides the opportunity for brands to establish a dialogue with customers in a one-on-one setting. As such, the Internet is changing fundamentals about customers, relationships, service and brands, and is triggering the need for new brand-building strategies and tools. In the midst of this, aggressive Internet start-ups have emerged, creating strong brands that are putting established brands at risk. Internet companies such as Yahoo!, Amazon.com, America Online (AOL) and eBay have been able to build powerful brands in a few years, whereas it has taken decades for traditional companies to achieve the client base, customer affiliation and level of sales, which these Internet start-ups have achieved. As a result, harnessing the reach and interactivity of the Internet to build and maintain brands has become extremely important. For pure online players, who are essentially intangible, brands are even more critical as customers have little to go on other than a recognised brand. Given the tremendous clutter in today's e-commerce marketplace, and the high cost of acquiring online customers, the most successful sites will be those that can attract customers and build
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brand loyalty and enthusiasm that extends the brand-customer relationship beyond a single transaction. A Business Week survey found out that 57% of Internet users go to the same sites over and over again, rather than drifting from site to site1. Therefore, building awareness, attracting traffic or eyeballs, turning browsers into buyers, and turning first-time buyers into loyal repeat customers has become the Holy Grail of online marketing strategies. However, as the need to build brand loyalty online is reaching a peak, there is a growing recognition that traditional methods are no longer suited to this new interactive environment. As such, companies lack a coherent framework and concrete methods to build an online brand. In light of this, this dissertation seeks to explore how companies should go about building a successful Internet brand and to identify the critical factors that must be considered. During the last 3 years, there has been a rupture on the bubbles of the Dotcom industry. The disruption of the global Dotcom industry, the loss of investors confidence, the assai lance from hackers and code-breakers, the bankruptcy of many start-up giants (including Boo.com and Goodsonline.com) made many pessimistic souls believe at the doomsday of the industry in a nottoo-distant future. But according to experts, Dotcom industry is still a fledging and promising one. According to Hoffman, the online purchase will occupy up to 35% of the total figure in the next 30 years. By the way, the competition between the start-ups will be more fiercely than ever. In the era of digital technology, companies compete not only in price and quality, but also in brand name. Therefore, building a successful brand name on Internet is a vital task, especially to cyber companies.

ANALYSIS DONE BY KALAM SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGY This chapter provides an analysis of six companies. Each case is presented in the same format including, a company overview, its value proposition, the sources of added value (using the 7Cs Framework), its brand-building strategy (how it generates traffic), and other key factors that have contributed to its success (or failure).

COMPANY OVERVIEW

In April 1994, Yahoo! was founded by David Filo and Jerry Yang, two PhD students at Stanford University, who started an online guide as a way to keep track of their personal interests on the Internet. The concept exploded (through word-of-mouth) and in less than six months, the site was receiving 1 million hits per day. Yahoo! has since promoted from an ordinary search service into a global Internet communications, commerce and media company that offers a comprehensive branded network of services and information to more than 145 million individuals each month world-wide, and is one of the few Internet companies to turn a profit early in the development of the Internet. As the first online navigational guide to the web, Yahoo! is a leading guide in terms of traffic, advertising, household and business user reach. Yahoo! is one of the most recognised brands on the Internet and is the 53rd most valuable brand in the world. The company's global web network includes 23 world properties outside the US.

VALUE PROPOSITION

At the core of Yahoos value proposition, lies the directory - a hand tailored and easy-touse guide to the Internet that becomes more useful each day as Internet penetration, the amount of information, and the number of websites continues to explode. According to CEO of Yahoo!, We've set out to make Yahoo! the only place anyone needs to go to get connected to anything. There's nothing in the real world to compare to that1. As such, Yahoo! offers a range of supporting services that add value, from e-mail services to stock quotes and much more, all in a single location.

SOURCES OF VALUE THE 7Cs FRAMEWORK Convenience Central to Yahoos success, is the way it has structured and displayed infor mation. Their goal is not to list everything under the sun, but instead to be selective and to display the best the web has to offer in a hierarchical framework that makes sense to customers. They have kept the design of the site simple and clean to appeal to customers and avoid slow-to-load graphics. More recently, Yahoo! extended its convenience through its Yahoo! Everywhere service, to allow access, regardless of platform (i.e. mobiles, TVs, Palm computers).

Content Yahoo! has pursued a broad range of deals with content and commerce companies. These have helped Yahoo! become the place to track down a broad range of valuable information and resources, ranging from daily news and weather reports to road maps and books, and have been at the heart of Yahoos growth and development. They have formed multiple alliances and partnerships with leading online companies such as Amazon.com and CD-now. Their thrust has been to provide valuable content to customers, while providing partners access to a large customer base. This creates a win-win situation as it satisfies Yahoo!, the partner, and more importantly, the end-user.

Customisation My Yahoo! allows surfers to customise their view of Yahoo! and pick favourite topics, from stocks and sports results to weather and air fares, and is similar to a custom tailored newspaper. By tailoring the information to users' preferences, Yahoo! has increased customer loyalty and retention rates.

Community Yahoo! has developed customisable web communities called Yahoo! Clubs, where groups of people with shared interests can communicate through chat, message boards, and email. In 1999, Yahoo! acquired Geo-Cities, (one of the largest online communities) which provide easy-to-use and innovative tools to allow users to publish content on the site. Yahoos recent acquisition of e-Groups (an e-mail group communication service) will provide consumers with powerful new ways of communicating one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many. One of the most recognized Yahoo! communities is the famous Yahoo! Messenger. Built from 1995, with more than 100,000 chat rooms and widely varying topics, from public health to movies, from sports to politics, Yahoo! Messenger attracts more than 1 million chatters daily, and spreads its communication through word-of-mouth faster than anything else. In some countries like Vietnam and China, Yahoo! Messenger has become a cultural phenomenon, where an ordinary chatter spends no less than 3 hours daily on Yahoo! Messenger to meet his or her epals.

Connectivity Connectivity is Yahoos core product, and the nature of the navigation business, and is driving Yahoos multiple partnerships and alliances, to provide its customer base with access to useful links and content. In addition, Yahoo! has also implemented campaigns to persuade users to bookmark the site, or to make it their home page.

Customer Care Yahoo! responds to customer inquiries via e-mail, fax, telephone and even traditional mail, and plans to incorporate other features such as online chat to facilitate communications. Yahoo! spends more on customer support than most companies, reinforcing the brand customer relationship, and contributing to their reputation as a quality service provider.

Communication By positioning itself as a site that users frequently visit, and through communications via email, Yahoo! maintains close contact with customers. Yahoo! also encourages customers to email ideas and feedback.

BRAND-BUILDING STRATEGY Yahoo! is a marketing machine. It is often highly praised for its brand-building ability and promotion strategies through the use of traditional (offline) media and guerrilla marketing techniques to build awareness, and according to Intellect-quest, 82% of Internet users and 23% of people intending to go online, recognise the name Yahoo!. Yahoos brand-building success starts with its name, and its implications of a good time. Given the unease with which the average consumer approaches technology, Yahoo! avoided characterising itself as a technology-oriented company, and the company has always communicated the utility of its service in a way that reinforces other. Core brand attributes a sense of irreverence, an approachable nature, and an inherent friendliness. While Internet companies were targeting existing Internet users through the use of online promotion methods, Yahoo! extended beyond this to use traditional offline media. At the time this was considered a breakthrough, and it formed a critical link in Yahoos brand building strategy. Their strategy was to target near surfers - people who are not yet online but are likely to use the Internet in the near future. These near surfers represented (and still do) a large and fast growing group and, therefore, by building a recognised brand name, Yahoo! would be one of the first sites that they visited. This was especially important, as experience surfers tend to be loyal to their search engine. As a result, Yahoo! aggressively promoted the site through public relations, TV commercials and radio spots during drive time. In 1996, they hired Black Rocket to create a brand awareness campaign that became very successful through the development of the tag line Do You Yahoo!? which conveyed the brand's irreverent personality.

In addition, Yahoo! adopted guerrilla marketing techniques - with its name being plastered on everything, from the Zamboni ice-shaving machine of the San Jose Sharks (Ice Hockey Team) to over 120 products, including backpacks, T-shirts, breath mints, parachutes, snowboards, sailboats, and yo-yos, as well as TV shows (Ally, ER) and Hollywood movies. They even have a barter deal with the San Francisco 49ers, which has fans screaming Yahoo! to cheer their team as the Yahoos logo flashes across the football stadium screen. They also teamed up with publisher Ziff-Davis Co. to create Yahoo! Internet Life, a monthly magazine guide to what's new on the web and it has co-branded products, services and contests with well known brands such as Ben & Jerry's, Visa and MCI. Yahoo! has paid little for this exposure, which has been instrumental in establishing Yahoo! as a household name. Although this seems like a shotgun approach, it is in fact a carefully orchestrated campaign that requires each branding opportunity to meet one strict test - it must reinforce the image of the company as a service that is fun, a little wacky and inviting. Once customers access the site, customers quickly discover its value and through a high quality experience (7Cs), Yahoo! has managed to cultivate high brand loyalty. According to a recent study, 92% of Yahoo! users rate the service as excellent or very good which is significantly higher than those of other sites, and 76% turned to Yahoo! before visiting another search engine or navigational site. In addition, the research shows that 73% of Yahoo! users bookmark the service - higher than all other services. According to Karen Edwards, VP-Brand Marketing, Yahoo's ability to quickly pick up on users interests has been a key factor contributing to their success, stating that if we wait to hear about it in the news, it's too late. We need to be one step ahead in order to have a better service than our competition. Their innovation, new services and customised features highlight their ability to relate to customers' needs.

The nature of brands Introduction Brands are made up of many layers and dimensions. In this chapter, these layers are unravelled to reveal the nature of brands and their reason for existence. The chapter proceeds to describe the influence of brands on the buying process, and the importance of customer
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satisfaction and brand loyalty. The concept of brand equity is outlined, explaining the value of brands, both to customers, and to companies. These concepts are central to brands and brandbuilding, whether online or offline and they form the backbone of this dissertation.

WHAT IS A BRAND? A mixture of tangible and intangible attributes symbolised in a trademark, which, if properly managed, creates influence and generates value This definition truly captures the essence of a brand, and highlights the importance of brand management. Branding is about creating value, both for customers, and for the company. This value stems from the products and services that companies create and bring to the market, but extends further to encompass added values derived from factors such as the brandcustomer relationship, the brand's emotional benefits and its self-expressive benefits.

THE LAYERS OF A BRAND Brands are made up of four layers - the core product or service, the basic brand, the augmented brand and the potential brand.

The core Product / Service At the most basic level, customers buy products to meet certain functional needs. However, most products and services cannot survive on functionality alone as this is usually matched in time. The most common barrier to competition is building a brand.

The Basic Brand The basic brand consists of the name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to
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differentiate them from those of competitors2. Essentially, this should support the offering's performance and differentiate the brand from those of competitors.

The Augmented Brand Successful companies seek a competitive edge through the enlargement of the core product or service, with supplementary products and services (e.g. information, quick delivery) that enhance the customers total purchasing and use experience. These products and services add value and make the offering much more difficult for competitors to emulate.

The Potential Brand A brand achieves its potential when added values are so great that customers will not willingly accept substitutes, even when the alternatives are substantially cheaper or more readily available (e.g. Coca-Cola, Kodak, Levi's).

PRODUCT AND SERVICE BRANDS Product brands are the original brand carriers. They are the historical core of branding because they are the most prevalent, and because they most readily come to mind when consumers are asked to recall brands. For instance: Ford, Motorola, Coke, Honda, etc. Service Brands (intangible) are much less numerous than their product counter parts. Intangible services are also more challenging to package and sell to consumers who often have difficulty conceptualising, preferring things they can see and touch. Certain service brands, such as in retailing, actually sell products, but the brand itself is the store, not the products it sells The Gap stores, Southwest Airlines and Amazon.com are examples. In fact, this is the case with all Internet companies, as they essentially perform the function of a virtual intermediary or infomediary and are intangible.

Need for the Study The study concentrates on the field of global Dotcom industry, the significance of brand name to a cyber company, and how to build up a successful brand. The study also shows the perception and awareness of people towards some brand names, and which brand they want to deal with most. The study reveals the dotcoms chance of viability in the market to tap the potential customers and to increase their market share, as well as its position in the customers mind. The need of the study emphasises on the market research of the brands. The study helps in analysing the viability of some brand names. During the study, I tried to find out the potential customers and collect relevant information, as well as to analyze the information which may help cyber companies to formulate their brand building strategies in accordance with customers mind and perception, therefore make contribution to their market share increase in the future.

Scope of the Study To understand what vital role a brand name might play in contributing to the success of a cyber company, it will be necessary to understand the context of current issues within the Dotcom industry and to identify the main players within the Dotcom industry, their brand building strategies, their successes and failures, and lessons from them. The project work covers brand building strategies with special reference to six typical cyber companies, including: Amazon.com Fashion mall.com CD-now EBay
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Gap.com Yahoo And the survey has been conducted randomly selected respondents within the city of Chennai.

Statement of the Problem This project has been undertaken to study about the strategies of brand building within start-up industry. The study tries to analyse brand building strategies of 6 cyber companies, which attach to the success and failure of each and every of them, thereof bring out a lesson regarding how to build a successful brand on Internet. This study tries to extract to customers attitude and beware ness towards respective brands, and on what foundation a potential customer decides to join the mainstream of cyber purchase, and which factors cast influence on his or her decision of buying. This study also tried to bring out the perceptions that e-customers finding while carrying out an e-commerce transaction. In the study, I interviewed potential e-customers on certain significant points, such as basis of customer, level of beware ness towards a certain brand name, customer perception, level of transaction, frequency of e-purchasing monthly, level of satisfaction and convenience, factors of influence, etc. During the study, besides using my own market researching result, text books, and reference materials, I also carried out my analysis and interpretation based on unconventional sources of information like cyber reference materials, e-opinion poll.

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Limitations of the Study 1. This study was carried out in Chennai city. Hence the results must not be extended to the national level as the psychographics and demographics vary significantly across the country. Thus the results are applicable only in Chennai city. 2. Out of 1 lacks odd dotcoms in the world; only 6 companies are selected, so we can not generalize the findings. 3. Some of the data are collected from word-of-mouth that can be biased. 4. Given suggestions and interpretations are limited to particular companies only. 5. Biased and concealed responses by the respondents cant be averted. 6. Even though comparative analysis of different cyber companies is done, only some aspects of their brand building strategies are taken into consideration. The data available on this are limited and companies, because of their business secret, are not willing to part with it. 7. The project is to be completed within 3 months, which is insufficient for a further in-dept analysis. The limitation of time horizon therefore is another constraint of this study.

Objectives The objectives of this dissertation are as follows: To gain an understanding of the role of brands and how they have traditionally been built. A review and analysis of leading academic thinking will be used to explore these issues. To explore how the Internet is changing the brand-building environment, and to identify new sources of value, tools and strategies to build brands on the Internet.

Academic literature and an analysis of the impacts of the Internet will be used to investigate these factors, supported by secondary data related to aspects of online business from accredited and published sources
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To identify the key factors and characteristics that contributes to the development of successful Internet brands. This is based on the outcome of the primary research (in-depth case studies), with reference to the theoretical themes that emerge from the literature review and in terms of the practical implications for companies.

2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Procedure Methodology The methodology used in this dissertation is illustrated in Figure 2.1. Figure 2.1: Research Methodology caac.2 - RESEARCH METHODOL Academic Research

Hypothesis Case Studies

Conclusion

Secondary Data

The 7Cs Framework Primary & the Interactive Data Brand-Building Process

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Academic Research: Given that the Internet is such a new area, there is more work in popular rather than academic literature. Consequently, the literature review draws on leading academic thinking in more established areas such as brand management, relationship management, marketing, strategy and economics. The absence of academic literature on Internet branding posed a major obstacle; however, this also highlights the true value of the dissertation. While there is no attempt, nor desire, to provide an in-depth analysis of the psychological and social dimensions of brands, certain key factors are highlighted in their relevance to the dissertation.

Secondary Data: This consists primarily of key facts and survey results quoted by leading consultancy and research firms, and is used to provide insight into some of the factors that contribute to the development of successful brands.

Hypothesis (Framework): This is based on the literature review and secondary data. The resulting 7Cs Framework and Interactive Brand-Building Model outline key sources of added value and the tools available for companies to create a high-impact customer experience that is critical in building an online brand. These are further refined using the insight obtained through the case studies.

Case Studies: The dissertation is essentially built on the in-depth analysis of the brand building efforts of six online companies. The case studies include born-on-the-web companies that are among the most recognised Internet Brands (Amazon.com, CDnow, eBay and Yahoo!), traditional bricks-and-mortar companies that rose to the challenge of taking their brands to the Internet (Gap.com), as well as a recent Internet failure (Boo.com). The combination of cases provides a useful and practical insight into brand-building issues and problems, and factors that contribute to a brand's success.

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Conclusion: Discusses the key findings and areas for further research.

Methodology Assumption This section outlines the procedure followed in collecting data and analyzing it.

a). Method of collection: The survey was conducted to collect primary data both quantitative and qualitative. Data was sought from cyber companies and e-customers.

b). Type of data used: Both primary data and secondary data where used. Primary data was obtained from direct interviews with e-customers, web-users, and potential purchasers. Secondary data was obtained from sources like brochures of cyber companies, Web sites, Magazines, and Books etc.

c) Tools for data collection: The primary data was collected with the help of questionnaire. The questionnaire was designed to obtain necessary information that can help me to fulfill this study. The questionnaire was administered by me through direct visit to institutes, companies, administration offices, and residences, and by collecting them from the respondents at a later date in some cases.

d) Sample size: Keeping in mind the budgetary, time and manpower constraints, the total sample selected was 100 all of them were conducted in Chennai,

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e) Assumption: The information from the respondents has been treated as the correct information. Though the sample size is limited to 100, I felt it is good enough to come to conclusion about how to build a recognized brand name on Internet. To analyze and interpret the primary data, I had used percentage analysis, which suits the best.

INTRODUCTION The Internet is transforming the business environment, creating new challenges and opportunities. This chapter provides an overview of the Internet and its defining characteristics, highlighting the key developments that have contributed to its explosive growth and its impact on the business environment.

OVERVIEW OF THE INTERNET The Internet is a world-wide network of networks. In essence, it is a common technology platform that allows computing devices to communicate with each other. In doing so, it offers a number of alternative channels that enable businesses and people to communicate. The three core channels include e-mail (the most common), news groups and mailing lists, and the world wide web (www).

The World Wide Web (www) is a large network of documents, which contain hypertext and pictures, and provides the opportunity for dynamic interaction. Hypertext allows information to be organised in a user-friendly way that is easily accessible. Information is becoming a major part of the products and services that people buy, and a critical source of added value

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The Defining Characteristics of the Internet The distinctive characteristics of the Internet can be summarised in three key points: It dramatically Reduces Information Costs - the cost of searching for information and the cost of the information itself is significantly reduced (and in many cases is free).

It Allows for Two-way Communication and Interactivity - this radically alters the process of interaction between communicating parties, allowing both parties to identify each other and build one-to-one relationships - not previously available with mass medium forms of communication. It Overcomes the Barriers of Time and Space - The Internet is a global network and can be reached from everywhere, regardless of where the computer or Internet access device is physically located. The Internet can also be accessed at any time - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These qualities eliminate the barriers of time and space that exist in the physical world. These characteristics combine to create a very powerful medium. By allowing for direct, ubiquitous links to anyone, anywhere, the Internet lets individuals and companies build interactive relationships with customers and suppliers, and deliver new products and services at low cost. These defining characteristics have fuelled its explosive growth.

THE INTERNET AND E-COMMERCE E-commerce describes the use of the Internet as a medium and as a market for commerce. The main difference between the Internet and other electronic media (i.e. fax, telephone) is that the Internet goes beyond just enabling transactions. The Internet becomes an information-rich virtual market space through which buyers and sellers interact. These 'virtual' marketplaces are not fixed in physical territory but are created by the combination of standards-based networks, web browsers, software, content, and people. Conducting business over the Internet (e-business) represents a fundamental shift in how buyers and sellers interact. The buyer and seller face
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each other through an electronic connection. There is no need to travel to a physical location, no order book, and no cash register. Instead there is a website. The value of e-commerce transactions and market forecasts vary widely among research firms and government agencies. However, they all project the value e-commerce transactions to grow at unprecedented rates.

THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON BUSINESS The Internet has had a profound impact on the way business is being conducted - how companies operate, how they compete and how they serve their customers - and revolutionary new business models are emerging, which are often disruptive to traditional business models. Although the particular impact will differ between industries, a number of sweeping impacts are identifiable: The Development of Electronic Intermediation The Internet is enabling companies to break through organisational and geographic boundaries to create new structures that link businesses virtually (electronically) with customers, suppliers, partners and other corporate constituencies. Improved Core Business Processes The use of Internet-based technologies as the platform, over which the organisations processes flow, represents a level of efficiency and integration previously unattainable. For example, CISCO e-enabled its financial systems and now has the capability to close its financial year within one day.

Globalisation of Business The Internet facilitates the globalisation of business by providing access to a global audience. A virtual presence can mitigate the cost of having to invest in physical facilities. The Internet also facilitates the development and co-ordination of global activities (e.g. through the use of extranets).
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The Balance of Power is shifting to the Customer The Internet empowers customers, as they have access to more information leading to more informed decision-making. It also provides easy access to competitors offers and allows customers to consider every available alternative. As a result, switching costs are much lower.

Competition is intensifying Although the Internet removes the geographical constraints of reaching customers, it also removes the geographical protection from competitors, as they are just one 'click' away. This, combined with the emergence of electronic intermediaries, the diminishing barriers-to-entry and the lower switching costs, has resulted in a fierce competitive environment.

Knowledge is becoming a Key Strategic Asset Many companies have recognised that if they want to succeed, their organisations must harness knowledge - internally and externally - in developing products, improving processes, getting closer to customers and ultimately staying ahead of competitors. Internet technology can be used to exploit collective learning and knowledge, allowing employees to share knowledge, collaborate more effectively and ultimately embed organisational intelligence within processes, products and services.

The Pace of Business is Accelerating With the fast pace of technological change, the globalisation of business, fierce competition, empowered customers, the development of a knowledge economy, and the 24 x 7 environment, the typical clock-speed at which companies need to operate has accelerated.

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Revolutionising Sales and Brand Management The Internet provides companies with a new channel to reach a new breed of customer. Enhanced communication capabilities allow companies to build one-to-one relationships with their customers and suppliers that were previously impossible. It allows companies to improve customer service, achieve global reach and realise a new source of cost advantage.

New Ways of Organising and Structuring Business Transformed communications costs and capabilities are helping to drive a fundamental rethink of how firms should organise themselves. Examples of emerging information age business structures include flat versus hierarchical, extensive outsourcing, supply chain cooperation, and multiple strategic alliances and partnerships.

The Strategic Importance of Alliances and Partnerships Although this point has already been touched upon, alliances and partnerships have taken on a new level of strategic importance. Traditionally, companies have looked upon alliances only as a means of filling gaps, and most traditional partnerships were vertical, linking companies with suppliers and customers up and down a pre-defined value chain. However, most Internet and ecommerce partnerships extend beyond this, linking companies with competitors and players from entirely different industries and business sectors, thus creating a value net. The extent of this partnering highlights the typical structure and dynamics of an online company.

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BUILDING BRANDS ON THE INTERNET A HYPOTHESIS

INTRODUCTION The Internet is changing the brand environment or brandscape. This chapter explores the new dynamics of brands and the critical importance of customer loyalty online. New strategies and tools for building brands on the Internet are identified, including the interactive approach to attracting customers and building loyalty. The limitations of brand-building on the Internet are also discussed.

THE NEW DYNAMICS OF BRANDS Traditionally, in addition to providing added value, brands were a substitute for information - a way for consumers to simplify the time-consuming process of search and comparison before deciding what to buy. However, the Internet makes search and comparison much easier. This threatens to undermine the value of brands.

On the other hand, the logic of the Internet cuts another way. Transactions on the Internet require customers to provide detailed personal information - names, addresses, credit card numbers, etc. Generally, people have concerns about sharing personal information. In addition, the intangible nature of the Internet, and the fact that customers are buying goods that, in most cases, they have never handled or seen (except on-screen), has placed greater importance on trust and security. People only tend to transact with sites they know and trust - sites that provide a wealth of information and make comparison shopping easy, where the user feels a part of, and sites that understand the user's needs and preferences. This highlights the surfacing of information and relationships as key sources of added value in the Internet economy. Customers derive added
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value through the provision of information on the products or services they buy, as well as on topics of interest related to the brand and product characteristics.

Traditionally, brands have been developed in an environment whereby a company creates a brand, and projects it onto a third party intermediary (the media). In response, many unnamed customers develop a relationship with the brand. The Internet, on the other hand, offers interactivity, whereby the company can establish a dialogue and interact with individual consumers on a one-to-one basis. In doing so, a company can listen, learn, understand and relate to customers, rather than simply speaking at customers. This creates the opportunity for companies to build stronger relationships than previously attainable. However, this also poses a challenge as these relationships may take on a life and character of their own.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ONLINE CUSTOMER LOYALTY According to a recent study8, 75% of senior executives believe the success of an e-business initiative depends entirely on its ability to build customer loyalty. In fact, it could be argued that customer loyalty is even more critical online. Which identified the following factors? - Companies will not break-even on one-time shoppers - often, customer acquisition costs are high, and to recover their investment, companies need to retain customers so that they return to the site repeatedly. Many e-retailers ('e-retailers') are averaging more than $100 to acquire a new customer, and some are spending over $500. Therefore, it is very unlikely that an online retailer can break even on a one-time shopper, unless they are selling high-price, high-margin items.

Repeat purchasers spend more and generate larger transactions - due to more frequent shopping and larger purchases.

Repeat customers refer more people and bring in more business - word-of-mouth is the single most effective and economical way online businesses grow their sites.
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Loyal customers are more willing to buy other products from the company. For example, almost 70% of The Gap online shoppers said that they would consider buying furniture from The Gap. Repeat purchasing not only binds trust, but also provides more opportunities for cross-selling.

These points stress the importance of online customer loyalty, and with customers holding all the power, companies must ensure that they provide a completely satisfying end-to-end customer experience. This is further reinforced by the fact that, on average, a disgruntled online customer tells 10 people about a poor experience.

CASE STUDY: GAP.COM COMPANY OVERVIEW Gap opened its first store in San Francisco in 1969, and today it is the 29th most valuable brand in the world. The Gap offers a balance of modern and seasonal styles of clothing, from jeans and T-shirts to khakis and jackets. Its reach extends across more than 1,800 stores in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and Japan. This success is largely due to their simple formula to deliver style, service and value to everyone. In late 1997, Gap started selling items online - an early convert to the then-revolutionary idea of clothes retailing on the Internet. Currently, online sales are only available to US customers, and are still relatively small compared to Gap's $9 billion in annual sales; however, the growth prospects are enormous. Gap's online sales tripled in 1998 alone, and sales in 1999 amounted to $80 million, up from $20 million in 1998. Even the collapse of the global Dotcom industry in middle 2000 showed a very little effect to Gap.com. During the period of 2000-2001, Gap.com was the only cyber company who could claim profit. Gap.com is an example of successful crossover marketing, and provides useful insight into how traditional brands can leverage their strength online.

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VALUE PROPOSITION Gap's simple, standard styles are well suited to online shopping, and Gap online provides access to the full range of items at Gap, GapKids, and BabyGap, from shirts to accessories and hard-to-find sizes. In addition, Gap online exploits the accessibility and convenience of the Internet, to provide customers with greater convenience and options. According to Jeanne Jackson, head of Gap Online, this is about being clicks-and-mortar, letting customers access the Gap brands, whether in the store or online14.

SOURCES OF VALUE THE 7Cs FRAMEWORK In terms of the 7Cs framework, Gap Online primarily focuses on Convenience, Content, and Customer Care.

Unlike other companies that transform from brick and mortar to cyber, the extensive integration of Gap's online and offline activities are clearly evident. Visiting the gap.com store one immediately notices the consistency between the online and retail stores, from the blue and white colour scheme to the easy-to-shop format - making visual references to its offline roots. Michael, Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, describes the company's brand personality as direct and straightforward ........very easy, very efficient15. This personality is reinforced online through the simple structure and layout, making it convenient, and easy-to-use. The site also offers sharp graphics, but provides customers with the option of viewing text-only, making navigation even faster.

Gap.com content consists of detailed information on its full range of products, allowing shoppers to contrast different cuts and styles. The site's virtual style feature also allows customers to mixand-match combinations of clothing, and customers can view their latest TV adverts for buying inspiration, as well as sample all of the latest shades of fingernail polish on a virtual hand, which would not be possible in the store.
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Unlike the case of Boo.com, Gap's simple, standard styles are well suited to online clothes shopping, and goods bought online get returned at the same rate as store purchases - as most Gap online shoppers have a good idea of how Gap clothes fit. In order to integrate its offline and online operations and logistics, Gap made a decision to charge sales tax on online sales. By doing so, customers can return goods purchased online to their neighbourhood store, without causing complications. This level of customer care is an important factor in making customers feels more comfortable with online purchasing. In addition, Gap.com allows customers to track the status of online purchases and provides contact information on the nearest store. Gap does not provide any community features on its site. However, once customers are registered online, Gap communicates with customers through customised e-mails, twice a month, promoting its specials and including links directly to items on Gap's website. Gap.com also provides a Gift Central feature which offers gift suggestion from Gap, GapKids, and BabyGap, and customers can register to get e-mail reminders of upcoming holidays and birthdays.

The Gap site connects to other Gap online stores including GapKids and BabyGap. Gap has also developed an affiliate programme, and had recently established marketing deals with AOL and CDnow.

BRAND-BUILDING STRATEGY EXTENSIVE INTEGRATION Gap.com has been able to piggy-back on The Gap's offline advertisements (in TV, Magazines, billboards, etc.) that also promote the online store. In addition, it is fully leveraging its offline presence to build awareness, by displaying the URL in store windows with the slogan surf.shop.ship, on counter cards, on shopping bags and even on the cash register, which displays Shop online at www.gap.com" on the display screens between transactions.

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Store clerks are also trained to look for products online for their customers if the store does not have them in stock, or to refer shoppers to Gap's website. In certain high traffic Gap and GapKids stores, the retailer has installed Web lounges that lure buyers with comfortable couches and terminals hooked up to Gap.com. To convert walk-in shoppers to cybershoppers, Gap has held in-store campaigns to get customers to submit their e-mail addresses, by offering a 10% discount and free shipping on their first online purchase. These efforts doubled the size of Gap's e-mail database, providing a useful way to directly reach customers.

Most of Gap's online traffic is generated by leveraging its physical presence, however, Gap has also supplemented this with online promotions:

-year commerce and marketing agreement with AOL that gives Gap more visibility on the Internet by linking to the world's largest online shopping destination: Shop@AOL marketplace.

flooded with e-mails form customers asking how they could buy a recording of the music played in Gap TV commercials. ncouraging sites to establish links to gap.com in return for a 5% commission on every sale referred through the site.

-Card, whereby for every $100 a customer spends at Gap Online, they send the customer a $20 Gap Shop-Card, which can be used towards future purchases, either online or in stores.

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CONCLUSION Gap.com is an example of successful crossover marketing. With their brand awareness and network of retail outlets, Gap had a significant advantage over pure online players in attracting customers and building critical mass. Pure online players have to invest heavily in logistics, whereas established companies, such as Gap, have already established the back-end operations and can use them as the cornerstone of their online business. The Internet, on the other hand, provides existing customers with added value through the convenience of purchasing online, and can also provide access to different customer segments who may not usually buy the products at all - thereby increasing the company's reach. By aggressively marketing both the stores and the website, and allowing each to leverage the strengths of the other, Gap has been able to significantly strengthen their brand-customer relationship, while reaping the benefits of low customer acquisition costs and extended reach. A key factor has been Gap's consistency and ability to deliver the same level of service quality that is expected from the brand, thereby reinforcing its brand identity. This type of seamless integration and symbiotic relationship is critical in building successful clicks-and-mortar brands.

ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF INTERNET STRATEGIES

1. Total no of respondents = 100 2. Age group Break-up SL. No. 1 2 3 Total Age 15-19 years 20-24 years 25 years above No. of Respondents 23 47 30 100 Percentage 23% 47% 30% 100%

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3. Qualification Break-up of Respondents SL. No. 1 2 3 Total Qualification Under graduate Graduate Post graduate No. of Respondents 33 51 16 100 Percentage 33% 51% 16% 100%

4. Break-up of Computer and Internet Literate Sl. No. Particulars No. Respondents 1 Yes 71 71% of Percentage

No

29

29%

Total

100

100%

28

5. The profession of respondents Sl. No. Occupation No. of Respondents Percentage

Student

35

35%

Computer engineer

13

13%

Faculty

21

21%

Businessman

16

16%

Others

15

15%

Total

100

100%

29

Table No.1: What are people doing online? SL. No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Particulars E-mail General Information Surfing Reading Hobbies Product Information Travel Information Business / Work Entertainment Purchasing Stock Quotes Job Search Chat Rooms Homework Auctions Banking Trading stocks No. of Respondents 91 78 72 70 67 64 55 50 35 35 29 26 25 22 17 15 9 Percentage 91% 78% 72% 70% 67% 64% 55% 50% 35% 35% 29% 26% 25 % 22% 17% 15% 9%

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Source: Survey Interpretation: From the above table, it is clear that the majority of respondents have surfed on Internet to check their e-mail (91%), searched for general information (78%), and attended recreational activities (reading, surfing, hobbies, chatting, entertainment, etc). Out of 100respondents, only 70 logged on cyber companies for purchasing, and only 36 had the real intention to buy or sell online.

Figure 1: What are people doing online

100.00% 90.00% 80.00% 70.00% 60.00% 50.00% 40.00% 30.00% 20.00% 10.00% 0.00%
E-mail General Information Surfing Reading Hobbies Product Information Travel Information Business / Work Entertainment Purchasing Stock Quotes Job Search Chat Rooms Homework Auctions Banking Trading stocks

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Table No.2: Number of respondents who really carried out business transactions on Internet

SL. No. 1 2 Total

Particulars Yes No

No. of Respondents 18 82 100

Percentage 18% 82% 100%

Source: Survey Interpretation: It is evident from the above table that the minority 18% of the respondents has actually bought or sold on Internet. The other majority 82% surfed on the World Wide Web for other activities (reading, surfing, hobbies, chatting, entertainment, product searching, etc). Advertisement should be aimed at this small potion of customers rather than pursuing the whole vast market.

Figure 2: Number of respondents who really carried out business transactions on Internet

Real E-purchaser Ordinary surfer

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Table No.3: Name of cyber companies that you actually dealt with

SL. No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total

Company Amazon.com Boo.com CDnow eBay Gap.com Yahoo! Others

No. of Respondents 9 0 2 13 0 10 2 36

Percentage 25% 0% 5.6% 36% 0% 27.8% 5.4% 100%

Source: Survey Interpretation: The above table shows the degree of popularity and credibility among different brands. Among six respective brand names, eBay has got the biggest number of transactions, following by Yahoo! and Amazon.com. The fourth brand has only 2 customers, and Boo.com and Gap.com got none.

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Figure 3: Name of cyber companies that you actually dealt with

Amazon.com Boo.com Cdnow eBay Gap.com Yahoo! Others

Table No.4: Number of e-purchasers who want to come back for future transactions

SL. No. 1 2 Total

Particulars Yes No

No. of Respondents 34 2 36

Percentage 94.4% 5.6% 100%

Source: Survey Interpretation: Among the real e-purchaser, the majority of 94.4% wants to come back to respective cyber companies they dealt with before. It shows the solidity of business transactions and relations on the Internet. Once customers are satisfied, they intend to keep the nexus with the company they know, rather than shifting from company to company. It highlights the significance of keeping up with customers standard and perception right in the first transaction (the moment of truth)
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Figure 4: Number of e-purchasers who want to come back for future transaction.

Yes No

Table No. 5: Standards for a good online company

SL. No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total Source: Survey

Particulars Brand Cost Convenience Means of payment Variability Promotion & discount Others

No. of Respondents 30 13 16 5 9 16 11 100

Percentage 30% 13% 16% 5% 9% 16% 11% 100%

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Interpretation: Among the above factors (brand, cost, convenience, means of payment, variability of goods and services, promotion and discount), brand name holds the most significant position, with 60 out of 200 respondents claimed that is was the most important factor to a company. The next important factors are convenience (16%), promotion and discount (15.5%), cost (13%), variability (9%), and means of payment (5%).

Figure 5: Standards for a good online

30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0%

Brand Cost Convenience Means of payment Variability Promotion & discount Others

Table No.6: Keys to Web brand Loyalty

SL. No. 1 2

Particulars Ease of use & navigation Fast response time

No. of Respondents 37 26

Percentage 37% 26%

36

3 4 Total

Familiarity Relevant & accurate information

20 17 100

20% 17% 100%

Source: Survey Interpretation: The above table shows the key factors that ensure web brand loyalty. Out of 200 respondents, 74 claimed that the Ease of use & navigation is the most important element (37%), whereas 52 gave their vote to Fast response time (26%), 40 to Familiarity (20%), and 34 supported Relevant & accurate information (17%).

Figure 6: Keys to Web brand Loyalty 40% 35% 30% 25%

Ease of use & navigation Fast response time

20%
Familiarity

15% 10% 5% 0%
37 Relevant & accurate information

Table No.7: Killers of Web brand Loyalty

SL. No. 1 2 3 4 Total

Particulars Outdated information Slow response time Site downtime Poor customer service

No. of Respondents 26 24 22 28 100

Percentage 26% 24% 22% 28% 100%

Source: Survey Interpretation: The above table shows the key factors that destroy web brand loyalty. Out of 100 respondents, 26 claimed that outdated information is the key element that demolishes customers belief (26%), whereas 24 attributed to slow response time (24%), 22 to Site downtime (22%), and 28 to Poor customer service (28%). Figure 7: Killers of Web brand Loyalty 30% 25%
Outdated information

20%
Slow response time

15%
Site downtime

10%
Poor customer service

5% 0%

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Table No.8: Things you want to buy online

SL. No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Particulars Consumable Luxury Interior Garments & footwear Vehicle Real estate Antiquities Others

No. of Respondents 75 16 26 67 24 7 31 40

Percentage 75% 16% 26% 67 % 24% 7% 31% 40%

Source: Survey Interpretation: From the above table, we can see the tendency of what people want to buy on Internet. Out of 100 respondents, most of them (75% & 67%) chose consumable and garments & footwear respectively. Whereas goods with high value like real estate, vehicles, and luxury were hardly chosen.

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Figure 8: Things you want to buy online

80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%


Consumable Luxury Interior Garments & footwear Vehicle Real estate Antiquities Others

Table No.9: Ranking the popularity of six below cyber companies

Rank 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th

Company Yahoo! eBay Amazon.com CDnow Gap.com Boo.com

Source: Survey Interpretation: From the table No.3, we can see eBay has got the biggest number of transactions among the lot, following by Yahoo! and Amazon.com. But with regard to level of recognition and awareness, Yahoo! transcends eBay and Amazon.com. It proves how effective Yahoo! is in
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creating community activities and spreading public relationship, including viral effect and wordof-mouth.

Table No. 10: Do you usually read chain mails & bulk mails? SL. No. 1 2 Total Particulars Yes No No. of Respondents 19 81 100 Percentage 19% 81% 100%

Source: Survey Interpretation: Chain-mails and bulk-mails are often used to get customer awareness and attention. But as time goes by, bulk-mails do not have the same significance like before, and customers usually refer bulk-mails as garbage and try to delete them without casting a single glance at. It is called as self-protection reaction. Cyber companies should develop other kinds of promotion and brand building rather than relying on chain-mails.

Key factors that contribute to building a successful online brand There is no one-size-fits-all solution for building a successful brand on the Internet, however, the extensive research and in-depth case studies provided in this dissertation indicate certain common underlying characteristics which can be summarised as follows:

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A Compelling Value Proposition Successful online brands are exploiting every capability offered by the Internet to deliver compelling value propositions that appeal to customers, by offering more value than attainable through traditional bricks-and-mortar establishments. They are providing greater convenience (24x7), lower prices, wider selections, and access to more information on the products or services being provided, and enhancing this with layers of added-value through the '7Cs' Convenience, Content, Customisation, Community, Connectivity, Customer Care and Communication. Successful brands recognise that the value proposition must more than compensate for the loss of in-person contact.

Key factors that contribute to building a successful online brand There is no one-size-fits-all solution for building a successful brand on the Internet, however, the extensive research and in-depth case studies provided in this dissertation indicate certain common underlying characteristics which can be summarised as follows: Successful online brands are exploiting every capability offered by the Internet to deliver compelling value propositions that appeal to customers, by offering more value than attainable through traditional bricks-and-mortar establishments. They are providing greater convenience (24x7), lower prices, wider selections, and access to more information on the products or services being provided, and enhancing this with layers of added-value through the '7Cs' Convenience, Content, Customisation, Community, Connectivity, Customer Care and Communication. Successful brands recognise that the value proposition must more than compensate for the loss of in-person contact.

Compelling Value Proposition Strong Internet brands are those that create a high quality engaging online customer experience. The 7Cs framework allows companies to deliver a tangible customer experience. Successful online brands meet the demands inherent in each of the 7C categories, by ingraining convenience
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and making the site easy-to-use, quick-to-load and easy-to-navigate, delivering compelling content, customising the experience, developing a community feel, making connectivity easy, integrating customer care, and establishing two-way communication. By placing emphasis on different 'Cs', they are differentiating their experience from those of competitors. A well Strong Internet brands are those that create a high quality engaging online customer experience. The 7Cs framework allows companies to deliver a tangible customer experience. Successful online brands meet the demands inherent in each of the 7C categories, by ingraining convenience and making the site easy-to-use, quick-to-load and easy-to-navigate, delivering compelling content, customising the experience, developing a community feel, making connectivity easy, integrating customer care, and establishing two-way communication. By placing emphasis on different 'Cs', they are differentiating their experience from those of competitors. A well executed customer experience that satisfies customers, results in higher brand equity.

A Reputation for Excellence (Delivering on their e-Promises) Fulfilment and delivering on e-promises is the acid test of online brands. The successful brands are those who are investing heavily in logistics, distribution centres, and customer care to ensure a completely satisfying end-to-end customer experience. In doing so, they are cultivating a reputation for excellence, which builds confidence and trust that not only entices customers to do repeat business with the company, but leads them to spread positive word-of-mouth, attracting other customers to the site.

Strong Communications Programme & Efficient Customer Acquisition Strategy The key Internet brands have made major commitments to building awareness and have developed multifaceted, integrated customer acquisition strategies, ranging from online methods to traditional offline media. They are targeting their promotions to attract quality customers and to keep customer acquisition costs down. Quality customers who are heavy users of the brand are important as they not only offset the cost of customer acquisition, but also provide added value

43

to the brand community. Properly orchestrated guerrilla marketing ploys can also be effective in building awareness and reinforcing brand image.

Unique Positioning Concept & Distinct Brand Image Strong brands are developing unique positioning concepts, to distinguish themselves from competitors. Yahoo's success can be largely attributed to its unique positioning strategy and distinct image that appeals to its target market. By distinguishing their offering and focusing on unique sources of value-added, brands are harder for competitors to emulate. In addition, these companies must have an inherent understanding of their brand identity and core values, to maintain consistency, as well as determine how far the brand can be meaningfully stretched to other products and market segments, before it fractures.

Strong Partnerships and Strategic Alliances Rather than doing everything on their own, leading brands have focused on building strong partnerships and alliances, particularly to secure content and widen reach to new customer segments and niches. As a result, these companies are creating even stronger value propositions, offering customers the best in quality, variety, content, and convenience. Alliances and partnerships play an important role in achieving speed and momentum, and by partnering with well-known brands, a company can leverage the partner's brand and reputation to reinforce its own. Alliances with leading portals and popular sites are important to generate traffic and brand visibility, and exclusive alliances can lock out competitors from valuable content or online real estate. The most successful partnerships are symbiotic matches, whereby each party benefits from the other's expertise or skills, while ultimately benefiting the end-customers.

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Intense Customer Focus Leading online brands have an intense customer focus, and develop a detailed understanding of their customers' needs. These brands are accumulating knowledge about customers, through past transactions and solicited input, and by focusing on customer needs, are leveraging this customer knowledge (learning) to nurture relationships (relate), by providing better services, customisation and customer care. Customer focus builds trust and credibility that is central to developing a strong brand-customer relationship.

First-Mover & Early-Mover Advantage Most of the successful online brand leading online brands have an intense customer focus, and develop a detailed understanding of their customers' needs. These brands are accumulating knowledge about customers, through past transactions and solicited input, and by focusing on customer needs, are leveraging this customer knowledge (learning) to nurture relationships (relate), by providing better services, customisation and customer care. Customer focus builds trust and credibility that is central to developing a strong brand-customer relationship.

Identified a market opportunity early and moved quickly to capitalise on the potential they saw. A first-mover advantage is an important asset for an online brand. By getting to market early, the company benefits from the buzz, and traffic, that comes with innovation, and it can acquire customers while it is still inexpensive to do so. It locks up important content and distribution partnerships, and it aligns itself with the most influential venture capital sources. Getting to market quickly can provide an Internet company with significant momentum and a valuable boost over the competition. The challenge then lies in keeping up the momentum. Many strong online brands were also early-movers on the internet, and benefited from additional hype, and extensive word-of-mouth due to its novelty. As Internet penetration exploded, these wellpublicised brands also took off.

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Relentless Innovation Successful Internet brands are continuously looking for new ways to wrap more value around their core service and offering, and are continuously adding new services and functionality to their sites. This type of relentless innovation is instrumental in ensuring brands develop traction and build momentum to keep ahead of competitors. In many cases, the innovations are the result of the company's ability to record its vast database of customer information, to create new services and content that satisfies customer needs. By leveraging unique customer information, these innovations are difficult for competitors to reproduce, giving the brand an edge, and differentiating it from other brands.

Ability to Leverage Offline Brand and Assets Bricks-and-mortar brands are often well positioned to succeed on the Internet. They possess critical assets that give them an advantage over pure online start-ups. They have an established brand, established customer relationships, established fulfilment systems and infrastructure, and a physical presence (tangibility) - factors that clearly differentiate them from pure players. Strong clicks-and-mortar brands are integrating their online and offline activities to leverage the strengths of each other. In doing so, these brands must respect their core brand elements and maintain consistency in the service quality that is expected, but at the same time, expand the brand experience to meet customers' expectations in the online world. Through extensive and seamless integration, clicks-and-mortar brands are providing customers with true added-value, while reaping the benefits of lower customer acquisition costs and extended reach. The Internet has radically changed the business and competitive environments. Yet while everything is being turned upside down, one component remains unchanged - value remains (and always will) the basic building block for every successful brand. The era of Internet brings a totally new approach to building a brand name. Lets have

Table No. 11: Different approaches in brand-building a glance at the different routes to brand building on the new dynamics of brands.
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The Emerging Brand-building Environment Traditional Approach Monologue Public Mass Anonymous Adversarial Focus primarily on one-off transaction Remote research Manipulative, approach Standardised Customised One-to-One Approach Dialogue Private Individual Named Collaborative Focused on relationship over time Intimate learning stimulus-response Genuine needs driven, service approach

Given that the commercial Internet only began to take off in 1994, there has been a limited time horizon to evaluate the durability of Internet brands. In addition, with the emergence of wireless access and new platforms, new opportunities and dynamics will emerge as companies develop innovative ways of acquiring customers, building relationships and satisfying needs. Therefore, ongoing research would be necessary to build on the findings of this dissertation. Nevertheless, it that the core concepts and key factors identified that contributes to successful online brands is likely to persist.

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Brands and brand-building tools tend to be associated with consumer markets, however, they are equally important in business markets. As such, the concepts, tools and key factors outlined in this dissertation are also applicable to business markets.

Nevertheless, an in-depth analysis, drawing on several case studies from business markets, would represent an exciting opportunity for further research.

Having established a strategic perspective on building online brands, this dissertation would benefit from complementary in-depth research in the social and psychological dynamics of the Internet and its impact on consumer behaviour. Based on my own research and survey, I had recognised the often used brand promotion method, their popularity, and their respective effectiveness.

Table No. 12: Popularity and effectiveness of brand building methods

Method Banners E-mails to customers Buttons Public relations Magazines Sponsorships

Popularity 89% 77% 55% 45% 34% 34%

Effectiveness (rank from 0.0 to 5.0) 2.8 2.3 3.2 4.1 3.4 3.3

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Newspapers Radio Direct mail Television E-mail to opt-in lists Outdoor Affiliate programs

32% 32% 30% 30% 23% 17% 17%

2.6 3.4 3.4 4.0 3.5 3.7 4.3

Figure c.1: Popularity of method

90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%


Banners E-mails to customers Buttons Public relations Magazines Sponsorships Newspapers Radio Direct mail Television E-mail to opt-in lists Outdoor Affiliate programs

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Figure c.2: Effectiveness of methods

4.5 4
Banners

3.5 3

E-mails to customers Buttons Public relations Magazines Sponsorships Newspapers Radio Direct mail Television

2.5
2

1.5
1 0.5 0

E-mail to opt-in lists Outdoor


Affiliate programs

From the above table, it is clear that some usually used promotion methods like banners and email showed little effect towards customers. Therefore, to enhance awareness and brand image, company should increase the use of:

- Affiliate programs: with other already-recognised online companies like Yahoo!, Amazon.com, or AOL. It is the way has been chosen by many successful ones like Gap.com, or eBay. - Public relation and outdoor activities.

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- E-mail to op-in list: bulk-mails are sent to an interested group of customers only, instead of viral chain-mails and bulk-mails. For instance: sending e-mails to a regular patron informing about goods available in which he or she may be interested. Further, there are some more suggestions from this study to cyber companies regarding how to create a strong brand name on Internet:

Supply relevant and accurate info. When a customer posts Further, there are some more suggestions from this study to cyber companies regarding how to create a strong brand name on Internet: Have a credible logistics with acceptable quality of goods and service. Make sure that the availability of goods and variability of categories are ensured.

Build a simple website with humble graphic and accessible info. Site must be easily used and navigated. Avoid the mistake by Boo.com of building a website that requires a powerful computer configuration and a wide Internet runway. The result is website is too slow to load, and leads to nothing but frustration of customers. His or her mail to ask some question with regard to product info search, feedback must be given within 48 hours.

When using credit card as the most popular means of payment, company must ensure the privacy of customer. Beware o hackers at the top most level. Dont try to dig on valuable items like antiquities, luxury, or real estate. Because of its particular risk and configuration, an online company should focus on small value items like books, consumable, garments and footwear, upholstery, cigarette and alcohol, etc.

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Yes No

Key factors that contribute to building a successful online brand

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for building a successful brand on the Internet, however, the extensive research and in-depth case studies provided in this dissertation indicate certain common underlying characteristics which can be summarized as follows: Successful online brands are exploiting every capability offered by the Internet to deliver compelling value propositions that appeal to customers, by offering more value than attainable through traditional bricks-and-mortar establishments. They are providing greater convenience (24x7), lower prices, wider selections, and access to more information on the products or services being provided, and enhancing this with layers of added-value through the '7Cs' Convenience, Content, Customization, Community, Connectivity, Customer Care and Communication. Successful brands recognize that the value proposition must more than compensate for the loss of in-person contact Compelling Value Proposition

Successful online brands are exploiting every capability offered by the Internet to deliver compelling value propositions that appeal to customers, by offering more value than attainable through traditional bricks-and-mortar establishments. They are providing greater convenience (24x7), lower prices, wider selections, and access to more information on the products or services being provided, and enhancing this with layers of added-value through the '7Cs' -

52

Convenience, Content, Customization, Community, Connectivity, Customer Care and Communication. Successful brands recognize that the value proposition must more than compensate for the loss of in-person contact.

A High Quality Online Experience Strong Internet brands are those that create a high quality engaging online customer experience. The 7Cs framework allows companies to deliver a tangible customer experience. Successful online brands meet the demands inherent in each of the 7C categories, by ingraining convenience and making the site easy-to-use, quick-to-load and easy-to-navigate, delivering compelling content, customizing the experience, developing a community feel, making connectivity easy, integrating customer care, and establishing two-way communication. By placing emphasis on different 'Cs', they are differentiating their experience from those of competitors. A well executed customer experience that satisfies customer Strong Internet brands is those that create a high quality engaging online customer experience. The 7Cs framework allows companies to deliver a tangible customer experience. Successful online brands meet the demands inherent in each of the 7C categories, by ingraining convenience and making the site easy-to-use, quick-toload and easy-to-navigate, delivering compelling content, customizing the experience, developing a community feel, making connectivity easy, integrating customer care, and establishing two-way communication. By placing emphasis on different 'Cs', they are differentiating their experience from those of competitors. A well executed customer experience that satisfies customers, results in higher brand equity.

A Reputation for Excellence (Delivering on their e-Promises) Fulfillment and delivering on e-promises is the acid test of online brands. The successful brands are those who are investing heavily in logistics, distribution centers, and customer care to ensure a completely satisfying end-to-end customer experience. In doing so, they are cultivating a reputation for excellence, which builds confidence and trust that not only entices customers to do

53

repeat business with the company, but leads them to spread positive word-of-mouth, attracting other customers to the site.

Strong Communications Programmed & Efficient Customer Acquisition Strategy The key Internet brands have made major commitments to building awareness and have developed multifaceted, integrated customer acquisition strategies, ranging from online methods to traditional offline media. They are targeting their promotions to attract quality customers and to keep customer acquisition costs down. Quality customers who are heavy users of the brand are important as they not only offset the cost of customer acquisition, but also provide added value to the brand community. Properly orchestrated guerrilla marketing ploys can also be effective in building awareness and reinforcing brand image.

Unique Positioning Concept & Distinct Brand Image Strong brands are developing unique positioning concepts, to distinguish themselves from competitors. Yahoos success can be largely attributed to its unique positioning strategy and distinct image that appeals to its target market. By distinguishing their offering and focusing on unique sources of value-added, brands are harder for competitors to emulate. In addition, these companies must have an inherent understanding of their brand identity and core values, to maintain consistency, as well as determine how far the brand can be meaningfully stretched to other products and market segments, before it fractures.

Strong Partnerships and Strategic Alliances Rather than doing everything on their own, leading brands have focused on building strong partnerships and alliances, particularly to secure content and widen reach to new customer segments and niches. As a result, these companies are creating even stronger value propositions, offering customers the best in quality, variety, content, and convenience. Alliances and
54

partnerships play an important role in achieving speed and momentum, and by partnering with well-known brands, a company can leverage the partner's brand and reputation to reinforce its own. Alliances with leading portals and popular sites are important to generate traffic and brand visibility, and exclusive alliances can lock out competitors from valuable content or online real estate. The most successful partnerships are symbiotic matches, whereby each party benefits from the other's expertise or skills, while ultimately benefiting the end-customers. Intense Customer Focus Leading online brands have an intense customer focus, and develop a detailed understanding of their customers' needs. These brands are accumulating knowledge about customers, through past transactions and solicited input, and by focusing on customer needs, are leveraging this customer knowledge (learning) to nurture relationships (relate), by providing better services, customization and customer care. Customer focus builds trust and credibility that is central to developing a strong brand-customer relationship. First-Mover & Early-Mover Advantage Most of the successful online brand leading online brands have an intense customer focus, and develop a detailed understanding of their customers' needs. These brands are accumulating knowledge about customers, through past transactions and solicited input, and by focusing on customer needs, are leveraging this customer knowledge (learning) to nurture relationships (relate), by providing better services, customization and customer care. Customer focus builds trust and credibility that is central to developing a strong brand-customer relationship. s identified a market opportunity early and moved quickly to capitalize on the potential they saw. A first-mover advantage is an important asset for an online brand. By getting to market early, the company benefits from the buzz, and traffic, that comes with innovation, and it can acquire customers while it is still inexpensive to do so. It locks up important content and distribution partnerships, and it aligns itself with the most influential venture capital sources. Getting to market quickly can provide an Internet company with significant momentum and a valuable boost over the competition. The challenge then lies in keeping up the momentum. Many strong online brands were also early-movers on the Internet, and benefited from additional hype, and

55

extensive word-of-mouth due to its novelty. As Internet penetration exploded, these wellpublicized brands also took off. Relentless Innovation Successful Internet brands are continuously looking for new ways to wrap more value around their core service and offering, and are continuously adding new services and functionality to their sites. This type of relentless innovation is instrumental in ensuring brands develop traction and build momentum to keep ahead of competitors. In many cases, the innovations are the result of the company's ability to record its vast database of customer information, to create new services and content that satisfies customer needs. By leveraging unique customer information, these innovations are difficult for competitors to reproduce, giving the brand an edge, and differentiating it from other brands. Ability to Leverage Offline Brand and Assets Bricks-and-mortar brands are often well positioned to succeed on the Internet. They possess critical assets that give them an advantage over pure online start-ups. They have an established brand, established customer relationships, established fulfillment systems and infrastructure, and a physical presence (tangibility) - factors that clearly differentiate them from pure players. Strong clicks-and-mortar brands are integrating their online and offline activities to leverage the strengths of each other. In doing so, these brands must respect their core brand elements and maintain consistency in the service quality that is expected, but at the same time, expand the brand experience to meet customers' expectations in the online world. Through extensive and seamless integration, clicks-and-mortar brands are providing customers with true added-value, while reaping the benefits of lower customer acquisition costs and extended reach. The Internet has radically changed the business and competitive environments. Yet while everything is being turned upside down, one component remains unchanged - value remains (and always will) the basic building block for every successful brand.

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SUMMARY
Internet has influenced the way we live and work drastically; a few years ago nobody imagined the extent of the involvement of internet in our day to day lives. Internet connects us to the world, reducing the communication time. Companies are developing Corporate Internet marketing Strategies to fully utilize this interesting as well as efficient medium. Corporate Internet marketing Strategies include maintaining a proper and efficient marketing site along with building customer loyalty, garner supplier support and Corporate Internet Branding. Most of the corporate organizations aim at reducing the overall costs of the business and providing new virtual products. The websites have to be very focused to appeal to the specific target audience. As internet is a dynamic medium, constantly changing and evolving itself, therefore the Corporate Internet marketing Strategies too need to be changed as per the market requirements. New technological advancements give rise to fresh opportunities that have to be tapped to make optimum utilization of the internet. Secure exchange and information overload have led to the development of regional search engines and more sophisticated search engines where you get well organized information that help in Internet Branding and improving visibility. Mosaic services is one of the major Internet Marketing experts India, outlines a strategy for online presence. The major points of consideration are:

Visibility on the search engines As most of the users use search engines to get information on any subject, visibility in search engine is the key factor. This can be done with the help of search engine optimization, pay-perclick advertising, PR campaigns and affiliate marketing. Impression on the visitor After the visitor reaches the site, the design and information on the site should interest him. The content should be easy to understand and the site should be user friendly and easily negotiable.

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Conversion of the visitor into a client The goal of any marketing strategy is to convert the visitor into a client. An internet marketing campaign and e-commerce strategy help in increasing the conversion after an initial curiosity is aroused in the visitor or the target audience. Retention of the visitor or client. The site must have features that attract repeat visitors. These elements help in increasing visitors as well as business from present clients. Mosaic services, is the solution to your online marketing needs. Visit the site www.mosaicservice.com to get more information about the services being offered by the internet marketing company.

Conclusion The era of Internet brings a totally new approach to building a brand name. Lets have a glance at the different routes to brand building on the new dynamics of brands. Table No. 11: Different approaches in brand-building The Emerging Brand-building Environment Traditional Approach Monologue Public Mass Anonymous Adversarial One-to-One Approach Dialogue Private Individual Named Collaborative

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Focus primarily on one-off transaction Remote research Manipulative, approach Standardized

Focused on relationship over time Intimate learning

stimulus-response Genuine needs driven, service approach

Customized

Given that the commercial Internet only began to take off in 1994, there has been a limited time horizon to evaluate the durability of Internet brands. In addition, with the emergence of wireless access and new platforms, new opportunities and dynamics will emerge as companies develop innovative ways of acquiring customers, building relationships and satisfying needs. Therefore, ongoing research would be necessary to build on the findings of this dissertation. Nevertheless, it that the core concepts and key factors identified that contributes to successful online brands is likely to persist. Brands and brand-building tools tend to be associated with consumer markets; however, they are equally important in business markets. As such, the concepts, tools and key factors outlined in this dissertation are also applicable to business markets. Nevertheless, an in-depth analysis, drawing on several case studies from business markets, would represent an exciting opportunity for further research. Having established a strategic perspective on building online brands, this dissertation would benefit from complementary in-depth research in the social and psychological dynamics of the Internet and its impact on consumer behavior. Based on my own research and survey, I had recognized the often used brand promotion method, their popularity, and their respective effectiveness.

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Table No. 12: Popularity and effectiveness of brand building methods Method Banners E-mails to customers Buttons Public relations Magazines Sponsorships Newspapers Radio Direct mail Television E-mail to opt-in lists Outdoor Affiliate programs Popularity 89% 77% 55% 45% 34% 34% 32% 32% 30% 30% 23% 17% 17% Effectiveness (rank from 0.0 to 5.0) 2.8 2.3 3.2 4.1 3.4 3.3 2.6 3.4 3.4 4.0 3.5 3.7 4.3

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Figure c.1: Popularity of methods

90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Banners E-mails to customers Buttons Public relations Magazines Sponsorships Newspapers Radio Direct mail Television E-mail to opt-in lists Outdoor Affiliate programs

Figure c.2: Effectiveness of methods

4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5 2

Banners E-mails to customers Buttons Public relations Magazines Sponsorships Newspapers Radio Direct mail Television E-mail to opt-in lists

1.5
1 0.5 0

Outdoor
Affiliate programs

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From the above table, it is clear that some usually used promotion methods like banners and email showed little effect towards customers. Therefore, to enhance awareness and brand image, company should increase the use of:

- Affiliate programs: with other already-recognised online companies like Yahoo!, Amazon.com, or AOL. It is the way has been chosen by many successful ones like Gap.com, or eBay. - Public relation and outdoor activities. - E-mail to op-in list: bulk-mails are sent to an interested group of customers only, instead of viral chain-mails and bulk-mails. For instance: sending e-mails to a regular patron informing about goods available in which he or she may be interested.

Supply relevant and accurate info. When a customer posts Further, there are some more suggestions from this study to cyber companies regarding how to create a strong brand name on Internet: Have a credible logistics with acceptable quality of goods and service. Make sure that the availability of goods and variability of categories are ensured. Build a simple website with humble graphic and accessible info. Site must be easily used and navigated. Avoid the mistake by Boo.com of building a website that requires a powerful computer configuration and a wide Internet runway. The result is website is too slow to load, and leads to nothing but frustration of customers. His or her mail to ask some question with regard to product info search, feedback must be given within 48 hours. When using credit card as the most popular means of payment, company must ensure the privacy of customer. Beware o hackers at the top most level.

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Dont try to dig on valuable items like antiquities, luxury, or real estate. Because of its particular risk and configuration, an online company should focus on small value items like books, consumable, garments and footwear, upholstery, cigarette and alcohol, etc.

SCOPE OF THE SYSTEM


The brands have to be launched with full bang. Following this practice gives recognition to the brands that are newly introduced. Today, when the competition in the marketplace is rising, there is a need of adopting industry edged solutions of advertising. By this means, the business enterprises start establishing a place for their brands. They avail the services of an online ad agency and run banner advertisement campaigns. The ad campaigns consist of the interactive ads that are designed on the basis of the products and services. The banner advertisement has the potential for effective targeting, tracking, and analysis. The agencies that run campaigns for the advertisers, track the performances of banner ads and allow them to analyze the ads placed. The advertisers have to modify the campaign and withdraw non-performing ads. It is made possible by replacing them quickly and efficiently. The banner advertising consists of serving the particular ad to a relevant user, on the basis of profile, data, connection, browser, demography, income group etc. Targeting is generally done by the pattern of past behavior. The advertisers, who plan to launch their brands, consider banner advertisement as the first effort towards a brand building regime. The Internet users come across web pages that have relevant content to satisfy their need. This inclination for information brings them to web pages of the publishers with good site metrics, page rank and SERP listings. The prospective customers obtain more information by click through and banner ads are also served them over the screen. The range of interactive banner advertisement campaign keeps on enticing the viewers and achieves responses.

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SUGGESTION
In this way, the advertisers obtain useful leads and take them into sales process or lead conversion process. The newly launched brands get an edge in the industry after these effective services. The climate of the current economic environment is forcing franchised hotels to become more involved in their brands marketing strategies and seek untapped, low-cost Internet revenue opportunities. In the first half of 2008, occupancy rates in North America fell by 2.4%; in Europe by 1.3% and in the Asia Pacific by 3.9%, compared to the same period a year ago Franchisees are starting to realize that the hotel chains e-Commerce departments cannot possibly capture all available online revenue opportunities for their property, especially on the local level, and are looking for new and innovative ways to generate incremental online revenues. Hubs believes that launching a robust Local Internet Marketing Strategy, as described here, will help weather the economic storm and complement their traditional revenue sources and brand contributions.

Internet Marketing Strategies Surveys show that up to 84% of travel research and planning in the U.S. is conducted via the Web (e-Marketer/TIA). The Internet has become the single most important travel planning and distribution channel in hospitality. In 2009, over 40% of all revenues in hospitality will be generated by the Internet, and another third of hotel bookings will be influenced by the Internet but done offline. Each year since 2004, Internet bookings have surpassed GDS hotel bookings. So how does this apply to major hotel chains? Over the past 5-6 years, most of the leading hotel brands have become proficient national and international e-Marketers, and have learned how to build brand equity on the Web. This CRS distribution ratio shows rapid growth in the Internet channel, a flat GDS channel, and a declining voice channel. There was a further acceleration of these trends in Q1 2008: Internet bookings comprised 47% of CRS bookings (41.8% in Q1 2007); GDS was 32.2% (34.1% in Q1) and voice 20.8% (24.1%).

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Due to the nature of online travel consumers purchasing habits and the way search engines index and present content on the Web, there are many online revenue opportunities at the property-level that derive from local audiences and markets. These opportunities fall outside the scope and bandwidth of the major hotel brands Internet marketing efforts: Local events that generate overnight stays: county fairs, festivals, sports events, concerts and performances Local group and social event planning Local search over a third of all searches via the major search engines like Go ogle, Yahoo, MSN is local in character Online yellow pages and directories Links and sponsorships on directories and portals Email marketing and sponsorship opportunities Local feeder market and key customer segment initiative

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

World Wide Web The Internet was used to collect information on Dotcom industry. In which the following websites were employed to be used: www.ac.com www.amazon.com www.atkearney.com www.bain.com www.bcg.com www.boo.com www.businessweek.com www.cdnow.com www.durlacher.com www.ebay.com www.ebusinessforum.com www.economist.com www.ey.com www.forrester.com www.gap.com www.gapinc.com

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www.interbrand.com www.mckinseyquarterly.com www.nua.com www.pwcglobal.com www.yahoo.com

Magazines Monthly business magazines in Chennai: The Economist The Wall Street Journal The Week The Financial Times Forbes Business Week Sales and Marketing Management Computer World Far Eastern Economic Review Advertising Age

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Books Kotler, P., Marketing Management the Millennium Edition Aaker, D Managing Brand Equity: Capitalizing on the Value of a Brand Name. Aaker, D. Building Strong Brands Clifton, R. & Maugham, E., The Future of Brands

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Appendix Questionnaire 1. What best describes your age? 15-19 years 20-24 years 25 years & above

2. You are a: Under graduate Graduate Post graduate

3. Are you a Computer and Internet Literate? Yes No

4. What is your profession? Student Computer engineer Faculty Businessman Others

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SECTION B

1. What are you usually doing on Internet? Reading and writing email Searching for general information Surfing Reading Hobbies Searching for product information Travel information Doing your business / work Entertainment Purchasing Stock quotes Job search Chatting Doing your homework / assignment Auctions Banking Trading stocks

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2. How long you usually spend on Internet Less than 7 hours per week 8-14 hours per week 15-28 hours per week

3. Have you ever carried out your business transaction(s) on Internet? Yes No

4. If yes, name the company that you dealt with Amazon.com Boo.com CDnow.com eBay.com Gap.com Yahoo.com Others

5. Do you want to come back to those companies for further transactions? Yes No

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6. According to you, what is/are the most important element(s) for a good online company? Brand Cost Convenience Means of payment Variability of items Promotion & discount Others

7. According to you, what is the key to Web brand loyalty? Ease of use and navigation Fast response time Familiarity Relevant and accurate information

8. According to you, what is the killer of Web brand loyalty? Outdated information Slow response time Site downtime Poor customer service

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9. Things you want to buy online Consumable Luxury Interior Garments & footwear Vehicles Real estate Antiquities Others

10. Rank six below companies from 1 to 6 in order of the most to the least recognized brand Yahoo!com Amazon.com Gap.com Boo.com CDnow eBay.com

11. Do you usually read chain mail or bulk-mail? Yes No

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12. What kind of advertisement normally attracts your attention? Chain mail & bulk-mail Direct mail Television Newspapers Radio Buttons Banners Ads featuring gifts and discounts

13. If you wish to add any other remark, please do so

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