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Sitting on the Fence between Management and Marketing, A Strategic look at Psychological Switching Costs (MBA Project)

With the Introduction of the internet and human technological advancement, our everyday lives have changed dramatically over the past 20 years and because of this, how we communicate, form social networks and purchase or sell goods have also developed.

In the light of this, we have completed this study which concerns the influence of the internet and the possibilities of forming long lasting relationships between businesses and customers through what we have described as ‘Locking in’ the customer. This is done by forming ‘Psychological Switching Costs’ that make the cognitive process of switching too expensive or un-wanted by the customer.

In order to develop an understanding of this we saw it as prudent to interview senior managers of businesses that operate mainly on the internet to discover if they attempt such strategic moves in, ‘Locking in’ customers. Thus forming the research question; How are Companies based on the internet using Psychological Switching Costs as a strategy to Lock in the customers?

The process by which the information was collected was through a qualitative method and semi-structured interviews. We found from the respondents that were interviewed that when it comes to operating a business on the internet it is important to consider, Transparency, Two-way communication, Simplicity, Agility and Flexibility in creating a loyal customer who is positively locked in. These were the strategies considered by the respondents to have an effect on customers.

One of the most interesting points that were made was that if the customer was locked in to the business, the business did not have to be as dynamic. Thus, according to the respondents, Psychological Switching Costs do have an influence on how they form strategy to Lock In customers. In that it can be beneficial to attempt to Lock in customers rather than develop other Dynamic Capabilities. This factor seems very relevant when considering communication, agility and flexibility, in that by forming relationships and strategies directly to the customer these companies are creating something that is difficult to substitute, un-imitable for their competitors and convenient to the customer.
Source: Umeå University
Author: Butler, Laurence | Lidgren, Jonas

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