Abstract.

This study aims to explore the role of online sales promotions in creating a sustainable competitive advantage for Shell. Based on the literature review and the research objective 4 propositions were developed.

1: Shell's representation of the product online plays a key role in driving consumer attitude towards shopping online and the intention to buy.

2: The consumer's perception of enjoyable online experience has a positive impact on impulse purchases leading to increase in sales for Shell.

3: The online virtual experience created by the Shell promotion will play a major role in creating a competitive advantage.

4: The communication of trust and credibility by the online promotions of Shell reduces uncertainty and adds perceived value to the brand.

Based on the exploratory nature of the research objective depth interviews were used to provide insights into the consumer motives for engaging in the online promotional activity of Shell and how they perceive the information communicated and what are its effects on their decision making process. The information captured was measured using the analytical framework in order to validate the propositions.

All the 4 propositions were proved to be valid however the research faces limitations in terms of the sample size and the attributes covered. Therefore using this research as a base it the strategic role of online promotions and its potential for establishing a sustainable competetive advantage could be further explored with a larger sample to reach a conclusion.

1 .0 Introduction

Shell is a global organisation with a huge portfolio of businesses across domains. The firm has used the web as a platform to support its business through online marketing and promotions. In 2009 the shell retail department has been involved in Shell fuels campaign which highlights the quote “Get the most out of every drop” and the Shell retail team is interested in conducting a post implementation review of their retail promotions in 2009, as the retail team is interested in knowing, if their current retail promotion for the Shell fuels campaign 2009 is successful in meeting its promotional objectives, as it has been investing £40,000 to £48,000 on its retail promotions. The objective of the promotion chosen is to drive online traffic to the forefront and to influence trial through portal web traffic. The implementation task is outsourced to external agencies and therefore the Shell retail promotions manager Carolyn Thomas is interested to know the perception of adoption by the external customers. Moreover the retail department does not want to cheapen the Shell brand through their promotion. The promotion which is tested in this research would be the e-vouchering promotion used in the U.K. Bowman (1997) states that 80% of sales promotion does not work in the U.K. For example: It has been discussed in the academic research arena that coupon promotions are inefficient. Moreover research suggests that sales promotion is unlikely to attain sustainable competitive advantage; there are exceptions to the above argument example: Tesco, BA (Yeshin, 2006).However this is the case with sales promotions relative to the traditional shopping environment. The existing academic literature in online consumer behaviour suggests that, with technological advancements on the web, the online sales promotion has the potential to achieve a competitive advantage (Ref).Therefore the role of online sales promotions in obtaining a sustainable advantage is explored in the context of Shell. Furthermore the significance of the promotional activity is analysed through qualitative in-depth interviews which tries to capture the different dimensions of online consumer perceptions on sales promotions. This in turn is validated with reference to the literature review conducted in the context of this research objective.

2.0 Problem Definition:

Sales promotion in this context is defined as a planned and implemented marketing activity that enhances product or service appeal and changes consumer behaviour in return for an additional benefit for a purchase or participation (Yeshin, 2006).However existing research suggests that sales promotions can either enhance or destroy brand value, it depends on how the consumer perceives the promotion. Furthermore it is also concluded that the techniques such as coupon promotions offer little in terms of brand sustenance and leads to no lasting positive change in the value of post promotion sales and could also result in damaging the existing perception of consumers on the brand(Ref).However in the case of Shell this would depend on the strategic contribution of the promotional activity implemented by Shell.

Therefore it is important to research the strategic role of sales promotion and its impact on the brand image of Shell, as the brand destruction by a sales promotion of one product would have an impact on the overall brand which caters to a wider portfolio of products and services (Ref).

3.0 Research Objective and Process:

The Objective of this research is to explore the strategic role of sales promotion in engaging online consumers and its likelihood of obtaining a sustainable advantage within Shell.

The methodology chosen for this research is qualitative and would involve depth interviews because this research is exploratory and requires the understanding of consumer perceptions and their feelings towards the online promotions. The sample used for this research involves Shell mangers responsible for the implementation of the promotion as well as the potential online consumers for Shell.

This would benefit the Shell retail department in using the interactive elements of the web relative to online consumer's perception on its promotion and reduce the risk of value destruction and potentially establish a sustainable advantage. This study would potentially give an understanding on the perceptions of their online consumers in the U.K which is one of their major markets. However this research does face limitations due to time constraints and access to resources ,this research would be considered as a pilot and could be explored in future with more detail for Shell's other major markets such as Europe, US , Africa and Middle-East with the leverage of time and resources. Moreover the validity of this research could be enhanced with more samples in the U.K.

4.0 Literature Review

This section would literally look again at the existing academic literature on what has already been written about sales promotions and online consumer behaviour within the context of this research (Lee and Lings, 2008).The existing academic literature on sales promotions has concluded that, it's less likely to achieve a sustainable advantage because it is often used by marketers as a short term measure to achieve sales targets (Ref). However there is a considerable amount of research happening in the area of online promotions which suggests that there is a potential for online promotions to establish a competitive advantage by taking advantage of the technological advancements on the web, such as the 3 dimensional and interactive features of the web, which could be used by marketers in creating perceived value to the brand and therefore contributing to the long term brand value (Ref). However there is limited research in the role of online sales promotions in establishing an online sustainable advantage because of the rapid technological developments. Therefore this research would contribute to the existing literature and also would attempt to answer Shell's question on if their promotion is creating or destroying its brand value. The research propositions are developed based on the literature review and also would form the basis of an appropriate research methodology.

4.1 Conceptualization of Promotions:

Promotions have perhaps witnessed both dramatic growth and change over the years than any other area of marketing communications (Yeshin, 2006).Therefore it is important to review the different definitions relative to the changing nature of promotions (Table 1).

Academics

Definition

The institute of sales promotions(2004)

Describes, “A planned and implemented marketing activity that both enhances product or service appeal and changes customer behaviour positively in return for additional benefit for purchase or participation ”

Shimp (2000)

Suggests that “a promotion is any incentive used by a manufacturer to induce the trade and/or consumer to buy a brand and encourage the sales force to aggressively sell it”

Kotler et al(1999)

Defines sales promotion as “Short-term incentives to encourage purchase or sale of a product or service”

Schultz, Robinson and Petrison(1992)

Provide a more strategic definition of sales promotion, they suggest that “Sales promotions are marketing and communication activities that change the price/value relationship of a product or service perceived by the target, thereby (1)generating immediate sales and (2)altering the long term brand value”

The Direct marketing association(1994)

Similarly argues that “Sales promotion activities that communicate distinctive brand attributes and contribute to the brand development and reinforcement of brand value are consumer franchise building promotions”

Alan Toop(1994)

Writing in marketing suggests:” Sales promotion conducts an interactive relationship with its audience. It invites participation, invites consumers to enter ,to apply, to collect”

Table 1: Sales promotion definitions

Therefore the above contradictions in the definitions, leads to a confusion in the role and purpose of sales promotions, and therefore it's been argued seriously in the academic arena, and concluded that the techniques offer-little in the way of brand sustenance, and leads to no lasting positive change in the value of post promotion sales, and as a consequence could result in damage to the existing brand perceptions (Ehrenberg et al, 1991; Ehrenberg, 1994; Jones, 1990; Yeshin, 2006).

However this would depend on the strategic contribution of the promotional activity implemented by Shell (Ref).Moreover it's been pointed by Gupta et al (1997) that empirical research in the area of sales promotions has been focusing on the short term effects of sales promotions and therefore it's been used by most marketers as a tactical tool. In support Peattie and Peattie (1997) argue that the bundling of all the different types of promotions for the purpose of research and study gives a very limited view of the potential achievements of sales promotions and also has encouraged a negative perception on the impacts that promotions can potentially have on the brand. Furthermore in the following paper Peattie et al (1997) argues that most of these preconceptions are caused because of the tendency to view sales promotions as only price based and exclude the promotional activities that add value to the brand. This point is reiterated that the tendency of most researchers in this area has been to generalize sales promotions under money off and coupon promotions (Peattie, 2002). Moreover it has been argued that much of the research on sales promotions has been conducted considering the short term effects of sales promotions and has rarely conducted any research on the more long term contribution of sales promotions such as the communication oriented impact of sales promotion on consumers (Peattie,2002).This implies that in order to make sense and obtain reliable results it is necessary to disaggregate the different sales promotional techniques into their individual components(Yeashin,2006).

Therefore in this research the long term contribution of Shell's E-vouchering promotion is evaluated. Moreover it is argued that generalising all the promotions to achieve the same goals irrespective of their individual execution would imply incorrect results (Yeashin, 2006).Furthermore it is also pointed out by various authors that in order to focus on the long term impacts of sales promotions a more strategic focus is required and is illustrated by the following quotes

‘Sales promotions have come a long way from the time when it was ‘simply a short term inducement to increase sales' (Robinson and Hauri, 1995).

‘Promotions are no longer simply short-term initiatives to lift sales, they are increasingly being used to reinforce brand values' (Gay, 1997)

The above definitions suggest the need for a long -term focus and the strategic application of sales promotions considering broader dimensions of the potential impacts of sales promotions (Yeshin, 2006).Therefore it is important to explore the broader strategic dimensions of Shell's sales promotions in order to reach a credible conclusion on its contribution to the Shell brand.

4.2Strategic dimension of sales Promotions:

Research suggests that more often sales promotion is considered as a short term-tactical tool (Yeshin, 2006).Although sales promotion is widely used to fulfil a variety of short-term objectives it often fails to recognize the strategic contribution on the long term, and it could often result in destroying the image or value of the brand (Yeshin, 2006). In order to evaluate its long term benefits it is critical to analyse the contributions of Shell's online sales promotion in reinforcing its brand image, enhancing customer loyalty and developing strong relationships with its consumers because this can strengthen its brand position(Ref). Therefore it is important to explore the role of strategy within Shell's online sales promotion and its contribution to the long-term effectiveness of the brand.

4.2.1Role of strategy:

The strategy should provide a framework to measure and research on the type of sales promotion implemented (Head, 1998; Yeshin, 2006). Although it is suggested that sales promotions should be considered in line with the overall brand building process (Yeshin, 2006). An alternative definition by Schultz et al (1992) provides a more strategic focus on the on the consideration of the sales promotion activity.

“Sales promotions are marketing and communications activities that change the price/value relationship of a product/service perceived by the target, therefore by generating immediate sales and altering long term brand value”

The above definition is considered important because it recognizes the need for generating short term sales volume and also promotes the need to consider the long term issues related to the brand (Schultz et al, 1992; Yeshin, 2006).Therefore based on this definition the strategic significance of Shell's promotions in engaging online consumers should be evaluated because this definition gives a base for evaluating the promotions of Shell by recognising the short term objective of generating sales volume whilst appreciating the long term issues relative to its brand (Schultz et al,1992).For this reason it is required to explore the impact of sales promotions and its implications to the Shell brand. In order to understand its significance to the Shell brand it is important to identify the strategic use of sales promotions (Yeshin,2006).This would benefit Shell in communicating consistent overall brand image whilst helping each individual promotion achieve its objectives by creating increased awareness(Yeshin,2006).

It has been pointed that the reduction in product differentiation is one of the reasons for the increased usage of sales promotions(Yeshin,2006).Furthermore various studies suggest that similarities between brands can cause reduction in brand loyalty and is a consequence of increased usage of price oriented promotions(Ehrenberg,1993;Mela et al,1997). However there are various promotions that have demonstrated the potential to enhance the brand and generate loyalty in the long-term. For example: The frequent flyer schemes by airlines, Levis Flat Eric and Pepperami Fanimal(Yeshin,2006).Therefore as Lisa Campbell(1996)work in Promotions and incentives journal suggests ‘It's not the tool we should be blaming but the users'.

This implies that the sales promotion tool used by Shell is not to be blamed but the way in which it is applied. Therefore it is required to review the literature on the strategic application of sales promotions and its potential benefits.

4.2.2The Strategic Application of Sales promotions:

Davies (1992) and O'Malley (1993) provide a contrasting view which suggests that sales promotions that are consistent with the overall marketing communications plan can enhance long term brand value and therefore could be considered strategically valuable.Similarily its been argued that sales promotions offering a rebate or discount are likely to cheapen the brand(Aaker,1991).However there are ways to apply promotions strategically and enhance the brand equity rather than destroying it(Aaker,1991). Furthermore the brand equity can be reinforced by strengthening its brand awareness and associations (Yeshin,2006).However based on the research conducted by Peattie et al (1997) it is concluded that sales promotions have the potential to:

1.Improve brand awareness.

2.Stimulate product trial.

3.Act as a communications channel between a company and its customers.

Based on the research by Peattie et al (1997) the strategic application of Shells sales promotion is identified to stimulate product trial and act as communication channel between Shell and it consumers. However its contribution to the brand depends on how the consumer perceives the promotion.

Furthermore the potential reasons behind using sales promotions needs to be identified in order to understand the reason underpinning Shells Online promotions (Yeshin, 2006).

Lee (2002) suggests four reasons for using sales promotions:

1. Reaction to competitor's promotions

2. Inertia: This is what the firm always did

3. Meeting short term-sales objectives

4. Meeting long-term objectives

However research suggests that most sales promotions fall in the first 3 categories mainly for price based promotions (Lee, 2002).Moreover in most cases it is not used strategically but used as a panic measure. Furthermore it is suggested that sales promotions should be used at a higher level where it is integrated with main strategy (Lee, 2002).Therefore the usage of Shell's online promotions and its relationship with the overall strategy needs to be explored. In order to understand this relationship within the context of this research it is important to identify the type of sales promotion strategy used by Shell.

4.2.3Type of strategies:

As sales promotion can reflect both push and pull strategies it is important to distinguish between the types of strategies that could be potentially used by Shell (Yeshin, 2006).The push strategy motivates distribution channels and encourages them to promote the product or service to the consumer, whereas the pull strategy is targeted directly towards end users to purchase products or services from the distribution channel (Yeshin, 2006). Based on the above definitions and Shells promotional objective its promotional strategy is identified as a Pull strategy.

These definitions of strategy are derived based on its intention to achieve results or goals for the firm(Craig,1983).Therefore in this case Shell's choice of Pull strategy is based on its intention to drive online traffic to the forefront and increase the number of trials through its web portal. However there are multiple objectives for a firm at the corporate level and this leads to the design of different strategies to achieve different objectives at the expense of others (Craig, 1983; Shendel and Patton, 1978).Therefore this research tries to focus on the chosen sales promotion and its objective and does not consider the impacts of other objectives and strategies of the firm.

Furthermore many research scholars have suggested that sales promotion is unlikely to attain sustainable competitive advantage (Yeshin, 2006).However there are exceptions to the above argument example: Tesco club card, BA Air miles (Yeshin, 2006).

Therefore the sustainability of Shell's online promotions is not ruled out and therefore needs to be explored. Moreover it is important to adopt a strategic approach rather than a tactical approach, which has been the focus in most cases (Yeshin, 2006).

In order to evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of Shell's retail promotions, it is necessary to consider the potential impacts of sales promotion on the consumer.

Raghubir et al (2004) argues that promotions may have three forms of impact on the consumer

1. Economic: The monetary benefits derived from the type of the promotional offer and its potential decrease in transaction time that lead to a simplified purchase decision.

2. Informational: It is about communicating the information about a brand which is unknown to the consumer.

3. Emotional: The feelings or emotions that are aroused as consequence of the exposure to the promotion.

Therefore the impact of Shells online promotions in the above three forms would be explored in order to evaluate its contribution t

5.0 Measuring the effectiveness of promotions

Although sales promotion is argued to be a marketing technique which is beneficial in the short-term. It is important to measure its long term-effectiveness in order to analyse the strategic significance of the activity. As cook (1995) argues it is important to consider the objective of the promotion before evaluation of the promotion in order to choose the best approach. Therefore in this case the post implementation review is done and its long-term effectiveness is considered.

Based on the literature review and Yeshin (2006) suggestion the following factors could be used to measure the long term effectiveness of sales promotions:

1. Does the promotional concept fit well with the brand and expected consumer perceptions?

2. Is the promotion perceived to be credible by the consumers?

3. Are there any constraints for the consumer to overcome in responding to the promotion?

4. Is the recommended promotion most likely to achieve the desired objectives?

5. Is the promotion perceived as a value addition in satisfying consumer needs?

In order to explore the long-term effectiveness and its contribution to obtain an online competitive advantage for Shell the existing literature on competitive advantage is explored relative to Shell's online promotions.

6.0 Competitive Advantage:

The information revolution has given firms new ways to outperform their rivals and therefore allows the firm to create a competitive advantage(Ref).This conceptualisation of competitive advantage is important because it is relative to the research objective which explores how the information presented by the sales promotion could contribute to the overall brand.

The research by Porter and Miller suggest that it is hard to underestimate the strategic significance of the latest developments in information technology. It demonstrates that Information technology has been transforming the nature of products, processes, companies, industries and even competition itself (Porter and Miller,1985).Although it has been treated as a support service it is suggested that organisations should understand that on a broader perspective, as Information technology could create sustainable competitive advantage (Porter and miller,1985).Therefore with ongoing developments on the web, the strategic significance of Shell's online promotions needs to be explored in order to identify its potential in obtaining an online competitive advantage.

Information technology should be perceived as medium that can process the information created by businesses and use them through the various technologies that are linked in order to create a competitive advantage (Ref).Therefore it is relevant to discuss the reasons that underpin the strategic significance of Information technology and its impacts on business in order to understand how it could be used to create an online competitive advantage for Shell (Ref).

Research suggests that information technology changes the way in which products and services are created and the information provided in order to create value to the consumers (Ref).In the case of Shell the value created is determined by the amount the consumers are willing to pay for their product or service (Ref).Therefore the Shell retail promotions could be considered profitable if the value it creates through the implementation of its promotion exceeds the cost of performing the promotional activity(Ref).This implies that Shell should either perform the promotional activity at a lesser cost or should create perceived value that leads to a premium price(Ref).

6.1Sustainable Competitive Advantage:

The online environment is changing the existing roles of competition and strategy because there is a pressure on the average profitability of the industry which is created by the internet (Porter, 1991).Therefore with competition from firms such as B.P, ESSO and Total it is important for Shell to set itself apart from the others (Ref). This could be possible only by achieving a sustainable competitive advantage (Ref).However this could be achieved either by operational effectiveness or strategic positioning(Ref).In the case of operational effectiveness it is required for Shell to do things better than competitors where as in the case of strategic positioning Shell has to do things differently from competitors there by offering something unique to customers(Ref).However the improvement of operational efficiency using the internet does not provide a competitive advantage because the best practise established by Shell can be imitated by its competitors(Ref).Moreover it is argued that competitive advantage tends to be short-lived in the online environment because competitor can easily monitor and offer a similar offer or service(Chaffey et.al., 2000:134).Therefore it becomes difficult to sustain the operational advantage. Hence strategic positioning is considered more important in this case where strategic positioning should involve a series of tailored activities to develop a product or service appeal that would offer a unique value perception (Ref). Moreover the online environment can be used to draw long lasting customer relationships (Ref).The interactive nature of the online environment can be used to build relationships (Ref). This is supported by Gronroos(1994). Buttle (1996:1) statement “Enduring relationships with customers cannot be duplicated by competitors, and therefore provide a unique and sustainable competitive advantage”.

Therefore in order to explore the contribution of interactive online environment in building relationships with the consumer it is required to conceptualise the online consumer behaviour and the factors influencing them.

7.0Online consumer Behaviour:

The strategic role of sales promotions in engaging online consumers is explored. Therefore based on the research objective it is important to have a significant understanding on online consumer behaviour and factors influencing them. Research suggests that more than 20% of consumers across several countries are buying products online using the internet and more than 50% of internet user's in the U.S buy products and services online (Kim et al, 2009). In the U.K around 40% of internet users buy products and services online (Kim et al, 2009).

Although it could be argued that there is no difference between online and traditional consumers (Constantinides, 2004). The new addition is building trust or confidence and is suggested to have a significant influence on online buying process (Ref).Therefore the factors influencing online consumer behaviour needs to be discussed based on the existing literature in order to understand their implications to the online promotions of Shell.

7.1Factors Influencing consumer Behaviour:

Based on the previous academic research it is inferred that there are controllable and uncontrollable factors which influence consumer behaviour (Constantinides, 2004). The interaction of controllable and uncontrollable factors determines online decision making process just as in traditional markets (Constantinides, 2004).However in this research the factors that are under the control of the E-marketer would be explored. The existing research on online consumer behaviour indicates a set of controllable factors influencing consumer behaviour (Ref)

* The functional attributes of the website such as interactivity and usability.

* The psychological elements intended in lowering the level of consumer's uncertainty by the communication of Trust and credibility of the website.

There has been considerable amount of research on the components of web experience. However there has been minimal attention in their integration. Therefore this research attempts to explore the contribution of these elements in obtaining a competitive advantage. Based on the research objective the online consumer behaviour is conceptualised.

7.2Conceptualisation of Online Consumer behaviour:

The online consumer behaviour is the key theme around which this research is based. Therefore it is imperative to introduce the online consumer considered in this research. Based on previous academic research the online consumer is considered to be a computer user and a shopper (Koufaris, 2002).The online consumer's could be classified as potential customers and repeat customers as they posses different amount of information and use different criteria to make a purchase decision (Kim et al, 2009).Although it is suggested that different promotional strategies should be used to create initial sales and to generate repeat sales (Ref). This leads to less clarity on the differences in decision making by the two groups of consumers. However the research by Kim et al (2009) shows that the value perception of the transactions made online are strongly influenced by the non-monetary factors like perceived risk factor than by monetary factors like perceived price for potential consumers, in contrast the repeat customers are strongly influenced by monetary factors than non-monetary factors(Ref). Therefore it is suggested that the promotion needs to be customised for the two different groups. But the extent of customisation and its influence on the consumers need to be tested and validated in the case of Shell (Zhang, 2009).

This leads to a proposition where it is important to understand and measure online consumer behaviour. A multidisciplinary approach needs to be taken as it is important to consider Information systems, marketing and physiological perspectives to do a comprehensive analysis on online consumer behaviour (Straub and Watson 2001). There have been various attempts from academics in building models around online consumer behaviour. The key attributes identified from the research are on converting web surfers into web consumers and, reasons for not shopping online. It is interesting to see transaction cost theory being applied to understand the impact of I.T on market structure and consumer behaviour (Malone et al. 1987).Based on the frame work it is inferred that if buyer search costs are substantial it could influence consumer behaviour (Bakos 1997).However it is important to see how effective it is in the context of online consumers. It is argued that online consumers cannot depend on all 5 senses to make purchase decisions as they are limited to product or services represented through photographs and text descriptions (Koufaris, 2002).However research shows that the representation of the product online and the web experience play a key role in driving consumer attitude towards shopping online and the intention to buy (Burke et al. 1992, Jarvenpaa and Todd 1997a and b, Nowlis and McCabe 2000,Novak et al. 2000).However the online consumer could depend on well designed WebPages and powerful web features such as one click-checkouts and recommender systems(Koufaris, 2002).Moreover there could be a difference in the exposure of social and working environment between the consumers(Koufaris, 2002). As research suggests, the consumer's intentions to buy online is influenced by lack of leisure time, but also depends on their type of life style (Bellman et al. 1999).However online consumers are generally more powerful, demanding and utilitarian in their expeditions(Koufaris, 2002).Therefore Morrisette et al (1999) argue that the overall customer loyalty in the web is low. But it could be argued that there are potential influences by the availability of the relevant content and the overall experience (Rice 1997, Eighmey 1997, Eighmey and McCord 1998).The other key concern which affects online consumer behaviour is the risk involved in buying or having transactions on the web. For example: credit card fraud and not getting the right product .The perceived risk in online transactions and perceived ease of use of the website has influences on attitudes towards online purchasing (Koufaris, 2002).However the impact of perceived ease of use varies depending on the task the consumer performs as research suggests that the impact is more significant when consumers use the website to inquire about products or services than to purchase them (Gefen and Straub 2000).

The double identity of online consumer as a traditional shopper as well as a computer user implies that although attracting and retaining customer revolves around the marketing communication techniques, technology also provides tools to support the process (Straub and Watson 2001).Therefore in order to understand why such a consumer returns to the store, it is critical to examine the interaction of the consumer with the website as a store and as a system (Koufaris, 2002). The research on online consumer behaviour suggests that purchasing decisions on the web could be complex as traditional shopping is restricted by time and geographical location, whereas the online consumers can buy at any time from any location increasing the potential for more impulse buys (Koufaris, 2002).It could also be argued that the web provides more privacy to the consumer in buying products or services that are embarrassing offline (Koufaris, 2002). The importance of online experience relative to enjoyment has been challenged in the past (Ref).However it is suggested that if online consumers enjoy the shopping experience they might indulge in more impulse purchases (Koufaris, 2002).Moreover research suggests that an experience is the integration of both emotional and psychological conditions such as intensity, communicated meaning, the perceived gains in quality and value (Mathur, 1971,457).The internet is suggested to have a stronger impact on consumer experience as the three dimensional interactive environment creates a compelling virtual experience(Ref,458).It is also suggested that there is a link between the human mind, the technology and the environment that engages users(Ref). Therefore it is suggested that the interactive nature of the internet could offer the marketers from Shell the ability to offer user controlled interactive experiences (Ref).This form of three dimensional interactive experience simulates a virtual experience to consumers (Ref).However in order to explore the impact of the virtual experience of shell consumers it is suggested to conceptualize the virtual experience (Ref).

Research suggests that marketers could use the developments in computer technology and the expansion in the internet to deliver highly targeted persuasive messages, strengthen customer relationships and as a consequence could potentially generate sales (Tedesco,1999,485). Furthermore it is also suggested that by creating online virtual experiences with products that are compelling, marketers could potentially increase the value of the product information presented (Ref,485). Therefore creates a online competitive advantage by engaging consumers in an active shopping experience and increasing the number of repeat and unique traffic visitors for the site (Ref,485)

The impact of firms using the internet as medium to support their promotional strategies has an emergent trend in many academic studies (Avlonitis and Karayanni, 2000; Bennet, 1997; Hamill, 1997; Poon and Jevons, 1997; Quelchand Klein, 1996; Wilson and Abel, 2002).The online environment allows the sales departments of firms to use the interactive nature of the web to communicate with consumers (Eid and Trueman,2002).However the management of the Shell brand would be a critical issue for the sales team who uses the internet for their sales promotions(Ref).For example: Shell uses its promotions on websites other than its own site such as Yahoo(Secondary data).Moreover research suggests that consumers might get confused about promotions being communicated on different websites with different content ,messages and images(Ref).Furthermore Barnett(1997) states that its becoming increasingly common for firms to use their sales promotion on websites other than their own and this might not be well received by consumers(Ref).The Secondary data obtained from Shell shows that the consumer engagement for the promotions on the Shell website is more than the promotions on Yahoo(Appendix).

It has been pointed by many researchers that the online environment would create a perceived paradigm shift in the way goods and services are marketed (Barnes-Vieyra and Claycomb, 2001; Brynjolfsson and Smith, 2000; 1998; Eid et.al., 2002; Hamill and Gregory, 1997; Hoffman and Novak, 1996a; Morgan and Hunt, 1999; Papows, 1998; Porter, 2001; Quelch and Klein, 1996; Rayport and Sviokla, 1995; Werbach, 2000; Wilson and Abel, 2002).

According to Rayport and Sviokla (1995) most business operates in the physical world made up of resources and the virtual world made of information. However the value creation process is different for both the environments. Therefore this leads to conceptual challenges because the physical world consists of the value chain activities which consider information as a supporting element of the value adding process and not as a source of value. In contrast the virtual environment information is the source of value for consumers. Therefore in this research it is required to explore the value perception of the consumers on information communicated through Shell's promotions. Moreover this research would not include the activities involved in the physical world as it is not within the scope of this research.

Information is pointed out to be a source of value in the online environment. However in order for the consumer to perceive the information valuable the consumer needs to have Trust and credibility on the source providing the information. Therefore in order to understand the contribution of trust it is required to examine the concept of Trust and its importance to Shell within the online environment.

8.0 The role of Trust in influencing consumers:

It is suggested that websites communicating trust and integrity could persuade customers to stop exploring and start interacting online (Constantinides, 2004).Fears or doubts regarding transaction security and data misuse could influence consumer behaviour (Constantinides, 2004).However it is suggested that the consumers are likely to use information about the source in order to evaluate the communicated message. Therefore the perceptions on the similarity of the source message with the reader could lead to a greater persuasive effect (Hass,1981;McGuire,1969; Price, Price,Feick,&Higie,1989).Furthermore the lack of trust is considered to be one of the most frequent reasons for consumers not engaging in online transactions or shopping activities(Sonja,2003).Although empirical research on the role of trust has conflicting conceptualisations. The role of trust is important in social interactions such as online promotional activities which involves uncertainty and dependency (ref).However it has been increasingly recognised by academics and practitioners that initiating, building and maintaining trust between the consumer and vendors are key facilitators of successful e-commerce(Ref).Although these elements are used based on the appropriateness of the study(ref).The contribution of these elements in the context of Shells online promotions should be explored(Ref).

The online transactions do not offer exchange of goods for money in most cases (Ref). In this case the online promotion of Shell which includes the redemption of E-Vouchers does not offer immediate return of product after the transaction ,as the voucher needs to be printed and needs to be returned to the customer assistant in the Shell Petrol station in order to obtain a £1 off of a fill of a V-Power fuel. Moreover the fierce competitive environment on the web makes the online consumers face many such offerings which are similar and are flooded by conflicting marketing messages (Ref). This also includes consumers sharing sensitive information such as telephone number and email address. The online consumers do not have an option of inspecting the products and services online and is uncertain about the reliability of the retailer who has collected information as there is limited assurance on the security of information (Ref).Therefore research suggests that the availability of cognitive resources is limited and therefore consumers seek to reduce the level of uncertainty and the complexity of relationships in online transactions using mental shortcuts(Ref).Trust is suggested as an effective shortcut in reducing uncertainty involved in such transactions(Luhmann,1989;Ref).Therefore the extent to which the consumers trust their interaction with the Shell online promotion and what drives their perceptions of trust on their interaction and submission of personal information needs to be explored.

As in the case of most academic research in the area of trust this exploratory research also faces time constraints and therefore does face limitations in terms of exploring a larger set of variables and therefore would focus on online trust in the context of Shell's promotions (Ref).

Concluding Summary :

9.0 Propositions:

Based on the literature review it could be inferred that sales promotions could enhance and destroy brand value based and it depends on the consumer's perception on the sales promotion. However research also suggests that attributes such as brand image, customer loyalty and strong relationships with the consumer could contribute to the value. Therefore these attributes are evaluated in the context of Shell to understand the strategic role of sales promotions.

P1: Shell's representation of the product online plays a key role in driving consumer attitude towards shopping online and the intention to buy.

P2: The consumer's perception of enjoyable online experience has a positive impact on impulse purchases leading to increase in sales for Shell.

P3: The online virtual experience created by the shell promotion will play a major role in creating a competitive advantage.

P4: The communication of trust and credibility by the online promotions of Shell reduces uncertainty and adds perceived value to the brand.

10.0 Methodology

In this research the term methodology refers to the way in which the research is driven and determined considering the theoretical and philosophical assumptions(Saunders et al ,2009).It would be a research process map which highlights the appropriate arguments relative to the research objective and also includes the choice of samples and collection of appropriate data and their analysis and finally the validation of the findings from the research and the way it is reported(Silverman,2006).Moreover it will be a map that describes the major steps and tasks that together lead to the way in which the research question is answered(Silverman,2006).The research methodology is chosen based on the literature review and the research objectives.

10.1Purpose of research - Exploratory

There are three different methods to accomplish a research - ‘Exploratory', ‘Descriptive' and ‘Explanatory' research (Saunders et al, 2009). These are ways in which research data is obtained and analysed (Saunders et al ,2009).In this case the literature review concentrates on several areas such as promotions and online consumer behaviour and how the interaction of these elements with technological advancements could create a perception on consumers that could potentially create a sustainable advantage. Furthermore the research requires clarification on the problem and there is uncertainty on the precise nature of the problem as there has been considerable evidence on the performance of the promotion from the quantitative data obtained. This doesn't indicate the perceptions of consumers on the promotion which is important to identify if the promotions is creating or destroying value for the Shell brand. Therefore an exploratory research is chosen as it is the appropriate method to conduct the research due to the flexibility involved in the approach where a broader area could be narrowed as the research progresses, making it a suitable choice considering the current nature of the problem (Saunders et al, 2009).

10.2Research Philosophy - Phenomenological (or) Interpretivism

The research philosophy chosen is interpretivism as it is necessary for the research to understand online consumer or human behaviour in response to a sales promotion. As Saunders et al (2009) suggests phenomenology refers to the way in which humans make sense of the world around us. It is important to understand and interpret consumer behaviour post implementation of the promotions by Shell in order to determine the perceptions created by the implemented promotion. The challenge here is to enter the social world of the consumers and understand the consumers from their point of view (Saunders et al, 2009).Therefore this philosophy is appropriate for this type of research where individual behaviours are interpreted at a specific time and a particular set of circumstances(Saunders et al, 2009).

10.3 Quantitative Vs Qualitative:

Based on the secondary data collected from Shell it clearly indicates what the consumers are doing. Although it is suggested that more depth on what the consumers are doing could be obtained through a quantitative study (Silverman,2006). The Research objective focuses on the strategic role of sales promotions within the context of Shell and based on the literature review this requires the understanding of brand perceptions, customer loyalty and the contributions of trust and relationships in order to obtain a sustainable competitive advantage. Moreover it is suggested that these attributes are based on what consumers think or feel about the promotion. Therefore a Qualitative research methodology is chosen (Silverman,2006).

10.4 Data Collection Method

The types of data collection method employed in the research are explained in order to justify the rationale behind their choice and their relevance to the research. There are two types of data collection methods employed in this research.

Primary Data:

This data is obtained by the researcher and is tailored to obtain support, in order to address the research objective (Malhotra, 2006, 85).

Secondary Data:

This data is readily available and has been already collected by the organisation for purposes that might be different from the research objective (Malhotra, 2006).

Based on the above definitions and the research objective it is imperative that both forms of data are required for this research. Because the secondary data obtained from Shell gives and understanding of the online consumer statistics such as number of times the consumer engaged with promotional on the Shell website and the number of consumers engaged with the promotion on external websites such as Yahoo. For example: The secondary data from Shell suggests that there was a 17% redemption rate on the Shell website in comparison to 14 % on Yahoo which implies that more consumers visit Shell over Yahoo. Whereas the intention and the thought process involved post and pre engagement of the consumer with the promotion is captured through primary data. For example: The Qualitative interviews with consumers suggest that they are more likely to click on the promotion on Yahoo rather than on Shell. This gives to contrasting information and therefore collectively both the sources of data are required to answer the research question. The secondary data obtained from the literature review has been useful in understanding the link between the interactive nature of the web and its potential to create a long lasting effect on consumers. However this theory is explored further in the context of Shell through the analysis of the primary data collected through interviews and their relationship with the secondary data obtained from the academic literature and the data obtained from Shell.

10.5 Secondary Data:

The secondary data was obtained from the Shell retail department and is attached in the Appendix (Appendix 1).This data is specific to the E-Voucher promotions of Shell fuels campaign 2009 .The research is conducted within the context of this promotional activity in Shell and therefore this data is important in answering the research question. Moreover the data from academic articles, textbooks are used to form the theoretical basis for the research objective. .

10.6 Primary Data:

The project aims to analyse the online consumer perceptions and interpretations of the Shell's retail promotions in the UK. Therefore based on the exploratory nature of the research objectives depth interviews were used to provide insights into the consumer motives for engaging in the online promotional activity of Shell and how they perceive the information communicated and what are its effects on their decision making process (Curtis et al, 2005, pg41).There were 11 informants who participated in the research process who claimed to surf online almost every day for a minimum of 3 hrs. The choice of participants is based on the research objective as 1 participant from Shell retail team responsible for the implementation of the promotion was chosen in order to understand the perception of the decision maker from online consumers and considering the time constraints of the research there were 10 consumers chosen from the U.K to represent the online consumers. The author conducted the interviews that lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. The sample size chosen is based on convenient sampling considering the research duration of 3 months and the access to consumers. However it is been suggested that a sample size of 10 could be acceptable in qualitative research (Malhotra et al, 2007)

10.7 Data Analysis:

Primary Research & Interview Method: The research methodology chosen is qualitative and the most popular technique suggested in academic literature on qualitative research is interviewing (Lee and Lings, 2008; Malhotra et al ,2007 ; Silverman,2006,). However it is useful to consider the other qualitative techniques available in order to justify why the interviewing technique chosen is appropriate for this research. The commonly used qualitative interviews are in-depth interviews which gives insights on psychology and psychoanalysis (Lee and Lings, 2008). Furthermore these interviews are less structured in comparison with quantitative analysis and are to a greater extent driven by interviewees and not the interviewer (Lee and Lings,2008). Moreover these interviews when driven by interviewees have the potential to go off track leading to interesting examples and discussions which might not be relevant in answering the research questions (Lee and Lings,2008).Furthermore in this research it is necessary to look for rich in-depth answers from consumers that potentially assists in tapping the feelings, experiences and opinions of consumers on Shells online promotions. Therefore the primary research method chosen is in-depth interviews (Lee and Lings,2008).However there are two types of in-depth interviews such as unstructured and semi structured that could be chosen for this research. But in the case of a unstructured interview the interviewer uses a few topics or just one topic to prompt the interviewee who in turn is allowed to communicate whatever they intend to (Lee and Lings,2008).This would not provide the desired results to this research because the interviewer probes only to follow up on areas of interest and allows the interview to flow smoothly (Lee and Lings,2008).Where as in the case of semi-structured interviews the interview is guided by a topic guide which is derived from the research objective and the information required to answer or test the validity of the research propositions. This approach is more suitable for this research where the consumers are asked fairly specific questions based on the information required and probed to obtain the required information (Lee and Lings, 2008). Although this approach gives a lot of flexibility in terms in following up individual points it also allows the interviewer to ask the same questions to all the interviewees (Lee and Lings,2008).It is also suggested that unstructured interviews are less likely to generate useful data as there is no guarantee that the interviewee would talk about anything relevant to the research objective (Lee and Lings,2008).However based on the literature review there is a clear appreciation of the research topic which would be useful in developing a structured interview guide(Lee and Lings,2008). Therefore semi structured in-depth interviews is chosen as the technique to gather primary data for this research (Lee and Lings, 2008).

Samples and Participants: Qualitative sampling has a completely different logic to quantitative sampling. It is not just the collection of data but the generation of data in conjunction with the respondents (Ref).The majority of reviewed studies on qualitative sampling uses convenience sampling. However qualitative sampling should be based on the purpose of the research and therefore it is suggested that good qualitative research should be based on purposive sampling (Ref).This would mean selection of a small number of cases from the population that have similar characteristics that is in conjunction with the purpose of this research. This implies that the research sample should include the people who are relevant to answer the research questions. Therefore considering the research objective this research would have a sample of participants who are online consumers from the U.K and go to petrol stations to fill in fuel for their vehicle. It is suggested that it is very less likely to gain considerable information on a reasonably complex theory such as online consumer behaviour with a sample size less than 20(Lee and Lings, 2008).However in this case convenience sampling is all that could be done in deciding the number of participants because of time and access constraints. For example: Shell does not have the consumer information relative to this promotion and could not disclose consumer information because of its privacy policy. Therefore the consumers had to be chosen based on the purpose of this research with the specified characteristics.

Although the research uses convenience sample and has taken 11 interviews out of which 1 interview is from Shell marketing manager responsible for the promotional implementation. The other 10 participants have been chosen based on the purpose of the research where the participants can provide the relevant information for the study (Ref).Therefore a mixed population of individuals who are regular online users and often shop online and use vehicles to commute were chosen. Since the research objective focuses on the interactive experience provided by the online promotion. It is suggested to take an emotionalists perspective and focus on open ended interviews (Lee and Lings, 2008; Silverman, 2006).

The research sample was chosen based on the purpose of the research with the specified characteristics such as online users with vehicles and who use either Shell or competitor petrol stations to fill fuel for their vehicles and have been in the U.K.Therefore factors such as age and demographics were not considered while choosing the research sample.

Analysis of data using the analytical framework:

Code List and Themes:

Discussion of Research Findings:

This research was conducted through semi-structured in-depth interviews in order to prove or disprove the propositions which were derived from the literature review. Therefore the interview questions were linked to the information objectives required to validate the 4 propositions. Based on the analytical framework developed for this research and the literature review this section would critically analyse and discuss the results from the interview for each of the 4 propositions.

Proposition 1: Online product Representation drives consumer Behaviour

“Shell's representation of the product online plays a key role in driving consumer attitude towards shopping online and the intention to buy.”

This proposition is derived from the research conducted by many academic authors who suggests that the representation of the product online and the web experience play a key role in driving consumer attitude towards shopping online and the intention to buy (Burke et al. 1992, Jarvenpaa and Todd 1997a and b, Nowlis and McCabe 2000, Novak et al. 2000).The objective of this proposition is to understand if the representation of the product by Shell's online promotion drives consumers to shop online or stimulates their intention to buy. Furthermore it also supports Shell's strategic approach to stimulate product trial.

This proposition was tested amongst 10 online consumers and 1 online marketing manager from Shell in order to confirm if the perceptions from the responses are convergent with the proposition. Based on the interview with the participants two themes emerged: Effort, Convenience and Innovation. These three themes would be discussed relative to the proposition 1.

Effort: X out of the 10 consumers responded that it was too much effort to get a 1 pound off and moreover reported that the printer set up suggested on the voucher print off page communicates too much effort for the consumer. Furthermore consumer 2 stated that “but what would put me off is that its lot off effort for just 1 £...I'm not keen to download a s/w to print off a voucher even if there is no spyware or anything”

Both these perceptions suggest that the product features do not communicate enough value to justify the effort involved

However the online marketing manager from Shell felt that it was fairly “simple and easy process” and felt that “there was quite a lot of web traffic and quite a lot of consumers downloaded it” However the secondary data provided from Shell show that although x % of consumers downloaded the voucher only y % of consumers redeemed it. This supports the fact that most consumers feel that it was too much of effort for a 1 pound off. However there were suggestions from consumers that instead of asking to take a print out Shell could offer an easier option for example: pin number or code which could be used at the petrol station.

Convenience:

Innovation:

Summary:

Based on the analysis of the responses from the in-depth interviews proposition 1 is proved to be true. The results clearly show that product has not been represented clearly to the consumers and there has been conflicting messages on the promotional ad which has diverted the consumer's attention. For example the information about adding printing software to print the voucher has lead the consumer to think that it was too much effort for a 1 pound voucher. However the online marketing manager perceives that the voucher redemption process is simple and easy. Moreover thinks that the promotion communicates the message that the fuel is high quality high performance. However most consumers have said that they perceive all fuels to be same and in turn make a choice based on convenience.

Proposition 2: Enjoyabale online experience leads to increase in sales.

“The consumer's perception of enjoyable online experience has a positive impact on impulse purchases leading to increase in sales for Shell.”

This proposition was developed from the research conducted by (Koufaris, 2002) which is supported by many studies (Burke et al. 1992, Jarvenpaa and Todd 1997a and b, Nowlis and McCabe 2000, Novak et al. 2000).The secondary research from the literature suggested that the consumers perception of enjoyable online experience through powerful web features and well designed web pages might influence consumers positively to engage in a impulse purchase. The objective of this proposition was to understand if the consumers enjoyed interacting with the online promotions of Shell and did that stimulate them to engage in a purchase. The question with the Shell online marketing manager is around the perception and experience they intend to create for the consumer.

Based on the analysis of the responses from the interviewees the following themes emerged

Proposition 3:

“The online virtual experience created by the shell promotion will play a major role in creating a competitive advantage.”

Proposition 4: Trust and credibility reduces uncertainty and adds perceived value

“The communication of trust and credibility by the online promotions of Shell reduces uncertainty and adds perceived value to the brand.”

The is proposition was

6.0 Conclusion

The research topic is derived from the complexity of online consumer psychology, which remains a nightmare for most marketers' in spite of numerous scientific and behaviouristic frameworks suggested by reputed academics. This research concludes that the online promotion by Shell neither creates nor destroys value to the brand. creating value. However this is just the case with selected promotion and cannot be generalised to the topic of online sales promotions. Based on this research and the literature review it is suggested that the interactive nature of web could be used by marketers to communicate trust, credibility and perceived value which in turn could establish a sustainable advantage for firms.

7.0 Limitations of the Research:

This is a pilot research on the strategic role of online promotions in establishing a sustainable advantage for shell in the U.K.The sample size of the research was limited to 11 due to access constraints to actual consumers whose contact information could not be disclosed by Shell. Therefore based on the research objective a sample of 10 online consumers was chosen based on the following criteria.

7.1 Recommendations:

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Research Objective: To explore the role of sales promotion in engaging online consumers and its likelihood of achieving an online competitive advantage for Shell.

Propositions:

P1: Shell's representation of the product online plays a key role in driving consumer attitude towards shopping online and the intention to buy.

P2: The consumer's perception of enjoyable online experience has a positive impact on impulse purchases leading to increase in sales for Shell.

P3: The online virtual experience created by the shell promotion will play a major role in creating a competitive advantage.

P4: The communication of trust and credibility by the online promotions of Shell reduces uncertainty and adds perceived value to the brand.

Information Objectives:

1. To what extent does the aesthetic features of the web, used to drive consumer behaviour?

2. Are there any constraints for the consumer to overcome in responding to Shell's promotion?

3. To what extent the shell online promotions create an enjoyable experience? How significant its contribution is on influencing consumer to make impulse purchases?

4. To what extent does Shell use the interactive nature of the web to stimulate a virtual experience that could potentially increase the value of the product information presented?

5. To what extent the consumers perceive the promotions of Shell as credible and trustworthy?

6. How significant is the contribution of Shell's online promotion in reducing uncertainty and building trust?

Interview Guide for Shell:

Proposition

Information Objectives

Questions

Information Required

Supporting Literature

N/A

N/A

Q1

To be used as an Ice breaker to confirm the participants knowledge of the Interview

N/A

P1

IO1

Q2

Shell must talk about how it uses the aesthetic features to attract online consumers.

(Straub and Watson 2001:)

P1

IO1

Q3&Q4

Shell must talk about what it intends to communicate through the promotions and how it communicates quality and value to its consumers.

(Burke et al. 1992, Jarvenpaa and Todd 1997a and b, Nowlis and McCabe 2000,Novak et al. 2000).

P1

IO1

Q7

Shell must talk about how it attracts consumers based on their needs.

Li et al 2001; Straub and Watson 2001

P2

IO3

Q3

Shell must talk about its target for the promotions.

(Koufaris, 2002).

P3

IO3

Q5

Shell must explain how it uses the interactive nature of the web to create a virtual experience that intends to create vale.

(Tedesco,1999,485)

P3

IO3

Q6

Shell must talk about how it uses the virtual experience to create a competitive advantage

(Mathur,1971)

P3

IO3&IO4

Q8,Q12&Q13

Shell must explain how it uses the interactive nature of the web to create persuasive messages that strengthens relationship with customers.

(Li et al 2001)

P4

IO5

Q9

Shell must explain about how it communicates trust and credibility to its online consumers.

Gefen and

Straub (2000), de Ruyter et al. (2001), Pavlou and Chellappa (2001) or Bhattacherjee

(2002)

P4

IO5

Q10

Shell must talk about the importance of trust and credibility in influencing consumers

Luhmann (1989)

P4

IO6

Q11&Q13

Shell must explain how it uses the interactive nature of the web to increase the perceived value of the product.

(Li et al 2001)

Interview Questions for Shell:

1. What does Shell represent as a brand? How do you relate the Shell brand with Shell V-Power promotions?

2. What is the perception that you expect to create on consumers with this promotion?

3. To what extent do you think the online promotion is expected to influence your targeted consumers?

4. How do you communicate the quality and value of the product to consumers?

5. To what extent do you feel the online virtual experience would be perceived as gain in quality and value?

6. How do Shell online promotions achieve its competitive advantage?

7. What do you think are the reasons for consumers engaging in the online promotional activity?

8. To what extent do you use the interactive nature of the web to influence consumers?

9. To what extent do the online promotions communicate Trust and credibility to the consumers?

10. How significant is the contribution of trust and credibility in influencing consumers?

11. To what extent do you think the promotion reduces uncertainty and dependency?

12. How do you use the technological advancements on the web to deliver persuasive messages?

13. To what extent they strengthen customer relationships that could potentially generate sales?

Online Consumers Interview Guide:

Proposition

Information Objectives

Questions

Information Required

Supporting Literature

N/A

N/A

Q1

Used as an Ice breaker and to confirm validity of sample

N/A

P1

IO1

Q2

The consumer must talk about the attributes of the promotion that was engaging

(Straub and Watson 2001:)

P1

IO1

Q3

The consumer should explain why he is a consumer of shell brands

(Burke et al. 1992, Jarvenpaa and Todd 1997a and b, Nowlis and McCabe 2000,Novak et al. 2000).

P1

IO1

Q4&Q5

The consumer should talk about what he feels of about the promotion and if he would redeem the voucher.

Li et al 2001; Straub and Watson 2001

P2

IO 3

Q9

The consumer should talk about his online experience in engaging with the shell promotion

(Koufaris, 2002).

P2

IO2

Q10

The consumer should talk about the user friendliness of the site.

(Tedesco,1999,485)

P3

IO3

Q6

The consumer must say what feeling arouses when he or she sees reads the quote.

(Li et al 2001)

P3

IO4

Q8

The consumer should talk about the interactive experiences with the shell online promotion.

(Mathur,1971)

P3

IO4

Q7

The consumer should talk about the perceived quality of shell.

Gefen and

Straub (2000), de Ruyter et al. (2001), Pavlou and Chellappa (2001) or Bhattacherjee

(2002)

P4

IO5

Q11

The consumer must talk about how trustworthy the site is and the potentials constraints to information submission.

Luhmann (1989)

P4

IO6

Q12

The consumer should talk about the perception on the information security on the shell website.

(Li et al 2001)

Interview Questions for consumers:

1. How often do you shop online?

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

8. How do you feel when interacting with online promotions of Shell?

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

12. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

13. If you were the responsible for implementing the promotions what changes would you incorporate?

Interview with Shell - Transcripts

1. What does Shell represent as a brand? What is your perception about that?

Shell is been around for a long time it's got a long history and we like to see ourselves as a forward looking energy company, a company that is innovative and creating lots of good products and with people that are committed to understanding what are our customers need and delivering the right energy solutions for them.

2. How about the relationship between the Shell brands with Shell V-Power promotions?

Shell V power is high performing high quality fuel and the same people that work on developing the fuels are the same scientists that develop the formula 1 fuel as well, so we are using our people to come up with innovative products and use their knowledge to come up with good quality fuels

3. What is the perception that you expect to create on consumers with this promotion?

The shell V power is high quality good performing fuel and obviously it's a chance for them

to have a trial and have a go ...the perception is of a High quality good fuel that they can use in their car.

4. What is target segment that you are trying to reach?

I think it would be those people that have those high performing cars that would be audience that we are trying to reach

Those people that have anyone who can use shell v power fuel and it's that anyone can use the fuel.

I think Shell V power is around high performing fuels and but as I say it can be used in any cars and if consumers give it a try and we are hoping that they would choose Shell V power in future. How their car performs better

I think this promotion was shell v power promotion and it's about shell v power in particular. However there could be opportunities to do something with other fuels but since im not in their team

3. To what extent do you think the online promotion is expected to influence your targeted consumers?

Well emm we are hoping that they take the opportunity to try themselves and once they have we hope they would choose Shell v power in future. So it's a trial to generate change of their preference for their fuel.

4. How do you communicate the quality and value of the product to consumers?

I think we communicate it through the Shell brand and this promotion in particular. I don't think it had anything about the fuel..I mean we communicate it through shell brand and through our technical partnership with the Ferrari and the formula 1 team and our scientists who make the product.

5. To what extent do you feel the online virtual experience would be perceived as gain in quality and value?

I think they are quite credible. I think people would trust the website...I think it's fairly easy to download the voucher and it should have been fairly simple to use in service station and should create value to the consumers with the discount on the high quality fuel. I know that there were some issues with printing the voucher. But I have not heard very many issues

I know a couple of issues with downloading...ummm....I think it was with printing...I think I did not do it myself but the guys in retail team tested it.

Obviously it would be interesting to see what the consumers have to say.

6. How do Shell online promotions achieve its competitive advantage over other companies?

I don't think this promotion achieves competitive advantage. We just use this promotion strategically to encourage people to trial and uses are products and see if the people then choose to use them in future. There is always a challenge with money off offers as we don't want to cheapen the shell v-power brand and customer perceptions and it's trying to have right balance.

7. What do you think are the reasons for consumers engaging in the online promotional activity?

Well there is benefit in them in engaging with promotion as they are getting a money off..and hopefully its simple to use and easy to engage with and I think that's the main reason ....we did have a quite a lot of web traffic with quite a lot of people downloading the vouchers ....we are quite pleased with that.

8. To what extent do you use the interactive nature of the web to influence consumers?

It's useful to deliver messages and try and influence our customers and its fairly simple for us to do it....we try to create interesting engaging content for our customers like the service station locator and we have also said the save out every drop.......we drop micro sites where people get tips about fuels and loyalty cards and stuff like that......we think it works quite well.

9. To what extent do the online promotions communicate Trust and credibility to the consumers?

Through the Shell brand and we hope our customer can rely on the shell to deliver high quality fuels and innovative products.

We get the most out of every drop is also about the Shell the v-power....it's also about the fact that shell v power improves the performance of the car.....it's not just about the sort of fuel efficiency.......it's about the fact that it creates less friction....because they use special additives that cleans your car and does not leave any deposits....but I can understand the question.

10. How significant is the contribution of trust and credibility in influencing consumers?

I think they would relate the shell brand

I think it's very important as if the consumers don't trust us they wouldn't buy our products....

I think they would relate our products and services with the Shell brand and I think that they could trust and engage with us....I hope so anyway.....

11. To what extent do you think the promotion reduces uncertainty and dependency?

I think because it's on the Shell website...umm...because rather than a third party website.... It should be fairly simple and instructions are fairly clear....I hope......ha hah ha.....

Hopefully people would be able to interact with it easily....

I think it's really useful thing for us to advertise our product

It certainly increases the amount of people who actually go there......I have a feeling that people who to shell website are more likely to download the voucher than those with yahoo. That was quite interesting but don't know the reason, having clicked on the link in yahoo they should be directed to the shell website therefore they should have the same sort of experience.

It's good to reach those people and show them what we have got and obviously hope they engage with us. They happen to see the money off offer and may be the yahoo consumers might engage....it's good to reach them

They may go elsewhere.......but it's good to reach those people and show them what we have got.....happen to see the money off coupon.....the yahoo consumers...its good reach them......

12. How do you use the technological advancements on the web to deliver persuasive messages?

We do try to use flash and try and engage people and make it more persuasive and it doesn't always work....few fuels stress purchases....which consumers don't make ....we have to get the right balance between spending too much money on technological gizmos and websites because we don't want the consumer to feel that we shouldn't be wasting the money on technological advancements and rather reduce the fuel price.

Instead of clicking page to page it should be much more easier...The fuels team in general uses a lot of flash. We make sure we use a successful engaging the fuels team use a lot of flash and we make sure a accessible version is always available for customers who cannot use flash.

13. To what extent they strengthen customer relationships that could potentially generate sales?

We trying to encourage loyalty and trial........probably it's not face to face relationship......so it's not going to be the best sort of relationship...but we just hoping that if people try the fuel they could be encouraged to use it in the future......again we have to be careful as we don't want to lower the perception of the brand...by giving lots of money off as it's a high quality product......

Interviews with Consumers:

Interview Transcript 1:

Hi Have you ever been to Shell petrol stations?

Probably yeah I have been to all of them but I don't differentiate

1. How often do you shop online?

Generally ahh just for birthdays.......probably about every 3 or 4 months..Emm

If im going to buy something I will usually check online before I make a decision to buy...but doesn't mean I will buy it online I usually check it online.

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

Well I only saw the one pound voucher promotion..Well To me its .. ..I thought it's quite easy ..Just a print out the voucher and it's pretty easy....but what would put me off is that its lot off effort for just 1 £...I'm not keen to download a s/w to print off a voucher even if there is no spyware or anything...and then have print off the voucher rand you have to present the voucher to get 1 pound off and I have to go to station and then present the voucher.....and also have to remember to take the voucher with you...seems to be quite a lot to do and particularly to put 30 p of petrol and I wouldn't fill that much

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

Well I don't choose my petrol on brands I choose them on convenience. I tend to go to the petrol station which is close to me...I might go further if it's cheaper..but I'm not loyal to any particular brand

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

I was curious enough to look into it more and particularly do a questionnaire.....it was very innovative....I thought had u not directed me to the promotion page I might not have done it...I was quite motivated to do it..interested enough to do it...unless there was a catchy advertisement on a news paper posters or televisions. That is real good enough to make those savings.. I wouldn't put so much effort for a 1 pound voucher..

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

If I didn't had to install the software to print off the voucher I might be interested but I personally wouldn't take the pain of printing it off for a pound given that I have to spend 32 pounds minimum or 30 litres to qualify for that 1 pound.... ....being in London of course I don't use my car often...to spend 3 p to save 1 p is not enough incentive for me to print off the voucher.

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

That was useful because it suggests that u could save money by taking weight out of your car and car cooling .......I think it's important and it did catch my attention....because that it does make a difference...

If you have it on shell or Yahoo or a Google website

I'll look at it...the style the colour the wording was catchy and if I happened to see on another website I would definitely click on it...but I wouldn't necessarily print off the voucher but I would certainly click on the advertisement.

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

No difference from the quality of fuels from other leading providers. I don't see any advertising that tries to differentiate them to the others. That may be because I don't watch a lot of television.

8. How do you feel when interacting with online promotions of Shell?

I felt it was sincere I thought it was clear, easy....and I thought it was interesting the way it was put across and it wasn't the usual click here and answer yes or no type....it was quite innovative.....

Absolutely yes...unless u got a reason to visit Shell you are not going to see these promotions and everyone knows Shell produces petrol so if you want petrol u go to the pet station you go to the petrol stations and not to the website.

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

None ....I got no reason to visit shell...I never saw any problems with the links

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

I t was easy and very quick didn't see any problems with the website.

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

It didn't ask for a lot of information...It just asked for my name, the type of car who I drive with and where I drive ....It was easy I had no problem in answering those questions.

12. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

Total trust...I don't think that being anymore a risk than making a transaction on Amazon and I'm sure shell does have security measures that secures any sort of personal information.. just like eBay or I tunes have.

13. If you were the responsible for implementing the promotions what changes would you incorporate?

The target consumers is me and not the business......and I think unless you are business consumer you are not going to browse the Shell site...if u want to communicate these offers and raise the profile of Shell.... u should do it through another medium that would be a different campaign that would attract the attention that could be putting and advert on yahoo.....there is no reason for me to access shell at all ....anymore than accessing Tata steel or BP and I may access Amazon, I tunes or EBay......If they have the same promotion or advertisement on those websites I would click on them.

Transcript 2:

Interview Questions for consumers:

1. How often do you shop online?

I would say probably twice in a month to be accurate and I'm online almost every day multiple times a day..

2. Have you heard about the Shell brand? What do think about the Shell Brand?

Of course yeah ... It's a very quality brand and has been around for a quite a while and has been one of the oil companies and one of the top brands and most recognised oil companies.

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

Umm I tell u I was impressed with this kind of..umm..how it was set up..I think .....the graphics. That took me through initially ...it gave me a choices obviously asking abt myself..and kind a individualizing it to me....the road map took me around and driving the car around.. the tips sections was very helpful..cpl of tips making sure tires are fine...ppl always say stuff but its kinda nice to find the true fact..

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

Im not loyal to any brand

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

I think it's good and doesn't seem like a normal promotion.....it gives money off for oil and gas products...for me that's the advantage...to have coupon....I like the website and the kind of information it gives....

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

I would definitely take my time to print it out ...and put it in my wallet..the harder thing is to remember to pull it off my pocket.....it would be nice to get the 1 pound off but if it was 2 or 3 or 4 pound I would be definitely more interested in pulling it out of my wallet as I would be interested in take advantage of it.I think its easy but the biggest problem is to print it off...it would be easier to have pin number whichI can put the pin on my phone and use itt in the station which would be easier.

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

It means vale ...it mean im getting value for my money

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

I would rate it at the top range fuel stations

8. How do you feel when interacting with online promotions of Shell?

You don't want to click a lot...just want a few clicks as possible and get the coupon quickly and don't have go around for a while...And get the coupon ....that's a problem is that u are bombarded with so many promotions...so there should be something which makes me open it...

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

I think if it's on shell website its more credible to me ...but the problem is why am I'm going to get on the shell website...for what reason...possibly if I looking for a coupon...but I would be on Google or yahoo and I need to see it....but the question is what is going to make me click on it....what makes me click on it over the other ones..u know .is 1 pound enough....I think it would be curious as we don't see oil and gas promotions often ...but the problem I have is when u have gone through all other promotions..will I really be able to get it.....possibly a higher amount might draw me in. to me its still 1 pound ..is it worth clicking on it..Because surfing through it for 5 minutes or 10 minutes for 1 pound is not attractive.

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

Yeah nowadays almost everything u signup for asks for some kind off information..You can't get away with it...I don't feel it different...It's just part of the process for me getting the coupon....the company wants to know who I am as a customer.

12. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

On the shell website umm...I will have more trust def on your website than the external websites that takes me through.... because to me it more legitimate on your website. ...The security is decent and have to keep watching what u are doing....the question that I wonder is giving my address or email address are u selling my email address ....am I goanna be hit by bunch of spam mails...that's my tiny concern

13. If you were the responsible for implementing the promotions what changes would you incorporate?

I think I mentioned i mentioned a couple even raising it to 2 or 3 pounds would increase my interest..the other thing is to really try to pull with the promotion. That its free gas....personally looking at the shell vpower promotion I don't know what V power is...I'm looking at shell v power diesel ... for a person who doesn't know what V- power is..it would be helpful to have some information about it....I think V power is different than my normal fuel....it does appear to be a new product....it doesn't tell me what the shell power means...I mean it kind of resonated some kind off more environmental petrol and it communicates that message but im not sure about it in the short span of time I went around ...it kind of says going longer and saving fuel.

Transcript 3

A little bit I guess in terms of promotions or my own experience with them and petrol apart from this

1. How often do you shop online?

I probably say a couple of times a month....not really to be honest with you....if I do it hasn't got my attention..Not online.......the only promotions were on TV or petrol station......

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

Huhh...Okay...Its ...to me probably b4 it's because I'm a cynic....it seems to be a pr publicity stint...and obviously they are trying to convey....how you can save on energy etc..I guess to me It's a little bit difficult for a firm essentially an oil company to give me the consumer lessons of being how to be green from oil companies ...because after all its the oil companies that are causing all the damage..That's what I think ...that's because I'm sceptical......the stuff that they said is common sense and the stuff that I already know....ummm that my initial feeling

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

Yeah...I actually thought about that...I don't think I choose which petrol station to go based on a particular brand.....I think my choices and decisions are made purely based on convenience.....I m generally I'm the kind of person who will fill it up the tank and I will do it once or twice a month....and I'll go that particular petrol station 1 because its close by 2 it also because it has TESCO express there...I think the petrol station is ESSO and often I need to go in there often to do shopping...but. if it's a Shell then I would probably use it then...but if it's a Shell or ESSO it doesn't really bother me......the only other reason I choose in the past is purely on pricing.....hmmm ...If I notice that difference in performance then yes but I can't say I ever noticed a difference...depending on which brand of petrol I use...But i think I v got use it regularly to see a difference...but again I think it's the performance of my car and I think should go for a different car rather than a different petrol. Again it's a case of spending a little bit more money.

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

It seems like again like almost portraying themselves as a more green and environmentally conscious company....If I'm goanna take advise from anyone on how to be more green.......then getting that advice from an oil company doesn't seem the right thing.

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

But The problem with this is that I would have to go obviously to a shell petrol station......and if there is not 1 on my normal travel journeys...then that means travelling further just to get to a shell petrol station...which doesn't really make sense for me......u are talking about the special promotion for their high performance fuel..No...I think I'm not sure that I'm not the person who use those sorts of fuels....it's not going to make any real difference...It's not going to persuade them to go and use them

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

Huhh...Well it makes....the tips make complete sense...it does make the difference....however the problem is where its coming from....as in the organisation from which its coming from...it kind of seems to be bit hypocritical ..Because I don't know what is the objective of the promotion........is it simply for me as a customer to help me out to get more value for money.....or use less fuel to save the environment.....It depends on what they are trying to achieve.

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

I have used it in the past.....like I said I don't notice any noticeable difference between any of them fuels....and I think the promotions talk about V power but it really doesn't really persuade me to show that it is better than the other fuels.

8. How do you feel when interacting with online promotions of Shell?

I think they are nice enough and are well presented and again I think I can get the idea that they are trying to portray this company as a nice fluffy and caring company.....and it probably works with a lot of people. May be not with myself may be because I'm a bit of a cynic.

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

It looked attractive although the fonts were not very clear could be clearer...but it did not make me feel special or tell me something that I did not know....hmm it was alright.

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

The usability yeah it was fine.....when I did it from home actually the first time around it got to the stage where u put in your details and it did not run any further ... but when I used it here it worked fine..I think its fine.

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

Initially I was wondering why do I have to put my name in ....why do u need my name....but the thing is it didn't take out any other details..I figured that the only other reason it took my name is.I think it took my email address as well...then I came to know it was to personalise message....ohh ok you need my name to personalise a message......it was fine but it was just a initial sort of suspicion of why do u need my name.....I probably would have preferred it if they hadn't asked for that ....the initial sort of expression was ohh its goanna be another question..More like a form filling exercise. .....well if I had come across it randomly I think the minute it asks for my name on the first page I would have thought no. because what I could see coming is another page or two pages of filling in details and u just do it so many times every other day online and u just know what's goanna happen after this is I'm goanna get spam emails...so that's a bit off putting off..it seems unnecessary as the only reason is to personalise and..umm

12. How much trust would you have on the same promotion if they were on yahoo?

Well I use yahoo mail so it's probably more likely that I would be on yahoo more often than on other sites....whether it would attract me or not umm.I doubt it....I don't think I would be attracted.....I mean there is no reason to go to shell and is more likely to go on to it if it's advertised on Yahoo or Google....quite definitely because why else would I go to Shell website.

13. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

Well It's only asked for my name so there is no concerns that...Umm....I guess trust is as much trust I have with any other online transactions....I think would have online transactions with any other online website ...I have never made a transaction with Shell online umm but I don't have a reason to believe that there would be a problem.

14. If you were the responsible for implementing the promotions what changes would you incorporate?

I think I'm not sure whether....I would be interested to knowing how effective the online promotions is.....I'm just wondering if it's really the best medium for promoting that sort of products..I don't know....and umm probably u are taking about the enhanced fuels...umm...and the only ever time I see the promotion of it is when I'm at the actual petroleum station and u have the option there to go and use the other fuel.....but I don't really..as far as I'm concerned the benefits of it are not really sold to me....at any other point until I see it there....but all I see is its more expensive and it might have a name that suggests that it gives u a better performance. But because I'm not aware of the benefits then why would I go and purchase it...I'm sure that there adverts on television that provide benefits. But I'm not aware of the benefits so there is no reason for me to pay 10 pens more to buy that fuel.......I think even at the petroleum station I don't see it promoted......anywhere I don't see a bill board saying that these are the additional benefits...even at the actual petrol station there is nothing there..Just some material or some booklets in the petroleum station! At the end of the day people are not going to buy quite simply because the name suggests that its goanna give your car more performance...They need to know what the reason behind it is. I guess it not promoted well online...Hmm...I'm not sure if it's going to work because for example I'm might read about it now.....personally I don't fill my car everyday by the time I get to the petrol station in two weeks...I might have forgotten about it..whereas u see it at a petrol station u remember it.....because you are bombarded with so many adverts online but u do see interesting stuff but u forget about it....if I saw it again in a petrol station then the message would be reinforced.....and I would think about it

Transcript 4:

1. How often do you shop online?

I would say probably twice in a month to be accurate and I'm online almost every day multiple times a day..

2. Have you heard about the Shell brand? What do think about the Shell Brand?

Of course yeah ... It's a very quality brand and has been around for a quite a while and has been one of the oil companies and one of the top brands and most recognised oil companies.

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

Umm I tell u I was impressed with this kind of..umm..how it was set up..I think .....the graphics. That took me through initially ...it gave me a choices obviously asking abt myself..and kind a individualizing it to me....the road map took me around and driving the car around.. the tips sections was very helpful..cpl of tips making sure tires are fine...ppl always say stuff but its kinda nice to find the true fact..

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

Im not loyal to any brand

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

I think it's good and doesn't seem like a normal promotion.....it gives money off for oil and gas products...for me that's the advantage...to have coupon....I like the website and the kind of information it gives....

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

I would definitely take my time to print it out ...and put it in my wallet...the harder thing is to remember to pull it off my pocket.....it would be nice to get the 1 pound off but if it was 2 or 3 or 4 pound I would be definitely more interested in pulling it out of my wallet as I would be interested in take advantage of it. I think it's easy but the biggest problem is to print it off...it would be easier to have pin number which can put the pin on my phone and use it in the station which would be easier.

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

It means value ...it mean I'm getting value for my money

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

I would rate it at the top range fuel stations

8. How do you feel when interacting with online promotions of Shell?

You don't want to click a lot...just want a few clicks as possible and get the coupon quickly and don't have go around for a while...And get the coupon ....that's a problem is that u are bombarded with so many promotions...so there should be something which makes me open it...

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

I think if it's on shell website its more credible to me ...but the problem is why am I'm going to get on the shell website...for what reason...possibly if I looking for a coupon...but I would be on Google or yahoo and I need to see it....but the question is what is going to make me click on it....what makes me click on it over the other ones..u know .is 1 pound enough....I think it would be curious as we don't see oil and gas promotions often ...but the problem I have is when u have gone through all other promotions..Will I really be able to get it.....possibly a higher amount might draw me in. to me it's still 1 pound...is it worth clicking on it...Because surfing through it for 5 minutes or 10 minutes for 1 pound is not attractive

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

Yeah nowadays almost everything u signup for asks for some kind of information...You can't get away with it...I don't feel it different...It's just part of the process for me getting the coupon....the company wants to know who I am as a customer.

12. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

On the shell website umm...I will have more trust def on your website than the external websites that takes me through.... because to me it more legitimate on your website. ...The security is decent and have to keep watching what u are doing....the question that I wonder is giving my address or email address are u selling my email address ....am I goanna be hit by bunch of spam mails...that's my tiny concern

13. If you were the responsible for implementing the promotions what changes would you incorporate?

I think I mentioned i mentioned a couple even raising it to 2 or 3 pounds would increase my interest..The other thing is to really try to pull with the promotion. That its free gas....personally looking at the shell V-power promotion I don't know what V power is...I'm looking at shell v power diesel ... for a person who doesn't know what V- power is..it would be helpful to have some information about it....I think V power is different than my normal fuel....it does appear to be a new product....it doesn't tell me what the shell power means...I mean it kind of resonated some kind off more environmental petrol and it communicates that message but im not sure about it in the short span of time I went around ...it kind of says going longer and saving fuel.

Transcript 5:

Yeah they are fuel company ... you see Shell petrol garages and petrol stations stages everywhere... It's a multinational corporation

1. How often do you shop online?

Every day for about 5 hours or so ...not often may be once or twice every 4th or 5th month

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

It was saying about the maintenance of engines...the Vpower promotion and they were saying how to save energy and fuel costs by having this instilled in you...May be its a good idea...but I don't feel I want to upgrade...I think it's good ....I don't think its really sufficient enough. For example the cost of oil prices are increasing...I don't think 1 pound voucher is enough.

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

Well it's not always that I prefer...Mainly it's because umm because I have stopped in lot of them before....I have like a membership like a Shell card...But I get a little bit discount as well. But I don't prefer to stop at Shell because normally I see a petrol station on my way stop at a station on my way...it's not really a preference.

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

I think they are trying to be more environmentally aware and they are trying to save damage to the environment and trying to persuade us to save on fuel costs and be more efficient on fuel costs...I think it's a good way of doing it...I think it's more interactive and because you are making decisions as well. The interfaces make u take part as a consumer and it's good in that way.

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

What for just 1 pound...ummm...I think I'd still use it...but .like I said I don't think it is sufficient enough...I think it needs to be increased more than 1 pound.

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

Ummm...Yes when I'm driving I want to get most out of your vehicle as well and you want a satisfactory drive as well ...u want to maintain the engine...so it encourages me to maintain the vehicle and things like mlt and check regularly things like oil and gas.

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

Yeah I think it's reliable and its good petrol...I use it quite a lot and not just preference I just use it... I've got no problem with that and I think its great.

8. How do you feel when interacting with the online promotions of Shell?

I though it's very interactive I think it gives the customer a lot of choice and makes them participate a lot which is good and realise what Shell is trying to promote and realise the massage they are trying to put across...So, I think it's very interactive and I think it keeps the consumer involved.

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

Umm to be honest this is the first time...it was a good experience ....I didn't know some of the facts they have got in this website which I find quite helpful.

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

Yeah I think the interface is very simple so it's very easy to use they have got menus which makes it easier to navigate...its fairly simple and easy interface and makes it user friendly...for a person and the consumer... Umm yeah..I think to use the site it would be helpful to a lot of people ...because I don't think many people would be made aware of certain things especially the point engine...and it can save people a lot of money and its friendly for the environment I think it's a better way of advertising it because when people use the site they get to find out for themselves..It's better than seeing it on a TV or an advertisement.

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

I don't mind giving it as its standard thing if we have to interact with the interface they have to record something...so I think I don't mind giving information....I think its fine...

12. How likely are you to engage with the same promotion on yahoo or any third party website?

To be honest I think only if i see on the Shell website because it's more official and when I see it on yahoo or Google I think it might be a scam .No I just don't think it's because there just lot of pop ups and things like that and I just think it's something like this.

13. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

.If it's on an official website like shell I trust that...Because it's the company's own. You know...But maybe if it's something like Google I just find something on a Google site...certainly not....

14. If you were the responsible for implementing the promotions what changes would you incorporate?

May be I would try to advertise on other websites but not yahoo or Google ...Id advertise on motor websites so if people are looking to buy a new car...For example...Auto trade id advertise on there and web sites like that...Second hand and first hand cars so that it reaches the target group of people that are interested...if it's up to me I would increase it......no too much may be at least 5 pounds..Because...I mean if I'm to fill up a 1.8 I'm spending an average of 35 pounds so just to get a 1 pound off is nothing...but if it's a 5 pound voucher its better and would appeal to more people as well.

Transcript 6:

Im just aware about their petrol and that's about it.

1. How often do you shop online?

I shop may be around a couple of times in a month.

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

Uhhh...these coupon promotions...I'd probably use it...I'd probably think about going to..I don't really have a preference of which petrol station I use...umm I think I tend to go to the cheapest one that is local and the nearest to me and generally and I think BP are the highest in terms of prices and I think Shell are pretty much up there. But I just tend to go to a local garage or the one that has a reasonable price really. But 1 pound off, I would probably consider using it.

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

Hmm I don't prefer Shell...I don't have a preference for using Shell, BP or Sainsbury's or whatever garage it is and I would just use it for convenience and secondly price so it's just price and convenience.

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

Hmm I think it's quite good but a pound off a tank would cost me 70 pounds isn't very much...I'm not goanna go and drive...you know there is a Shell that is local to me...but it's on a route that I don't take often...I drive from house on a route where there is garage and I don't know what brand it is...I'm not goanna take a left and go off my route to the Shell petrol station....I might have it in my car that I might use....but it's not goanna make me want to drive to a Shell petrol station.

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

Huhhh an E-voucher...I probably would I would use an E-voucher.

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

I think they are trying to tell us that they have a better fuel than perhaps some of the other garages but I think they are all the same and I don't think that there is goanna be much of difference in the performance of the car or the mileage u are goanna get per tank..So I don't really believe it.

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

Hmm...Just the same as others to me...if I thought it was better I would go there...

8. How do you feel when interacting with online promotions of Shell?

Uhh I think I went through it...It's just common sense...nothing that I really don't know...turn off your engine off your traffic lights...nobody is really going to do it..It's just a hassle...you turn off for 5 seconds and you move on and u are not going to turn it on and off...it makes sense but some of the points were impractical. It didn't really give anything information that I really didn't know ...it was really cartoony and very basic and I didn't think that it was that high quality.

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

I think it was very basic and cartoony and didn't seem like a very quality website ...the graphics in it was very basic and just cartoony and waste of my 4 minutes and whatever it took me to go through it.

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

It was very easy and simple ...it was clear and alright...

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

Mass mailing they are going to start some of the junk email...they just asked for some basic information but what I thought is they are going to store it in the data base and are going to use it in future.

12. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

As much as anything else...your details are out there if Shell wants to get hold... they can get hold of me because my details are in there...same as the other websites.

13.

Probably Google and probably because I use Gmail and is the one I use frequently..I don't see any difference in trust between these websites.

14. If you were the responsible for implementing the promotions what changes would you incorporate?

Uhhh...The website is very basic and looks like a fun website and with the cartoon with the and the different routes u can take I think like mountain and few others ..I like to see something a bit more quality a bit more high definition these days with power graphics in it...that can suit my money depends on how much u want to spend....But I don't think is too clear...I don't know what this one is trying to say to me..The better performance or less, is that going to give me money off...hmm I know it's trying to say that Shell is in terms of performance is better but then all fuels are pretty much the same.

Transcript 7:

1. How often do you shop online?

I don't like any grosser shopping I just do electronic shopping on websites like Amazon, google and Pc world.

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

I don't think like you have lot of trouble because to download something and print it off and its lot off effort for a 1 pound off...like spending 40 to 50 pound on petrol to get a pound off is not worth it to be honest...I think if it was like 5p a litre or 10 litre I would be more likely to do it.

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

Hmmm to be honest...I personally don't see any difference in fuels and I think petrol is the same and I chose it purely based on convenience.

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

I just don't think I personally just don't think it's worth it for 1 pound off...Personally I understand that they have to promote themselves by saving fuel and stuff like that...but I just don't see it of being any use to me..personally it doesn't engage me or see of any use to me...and it's like when I run out of petrol I need to buy petrol so I buy it I don't have to be convinced about it because it's not a luxury item.

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

I think it's a lot of effort and I don't think a 1 pound off would motivate me to take a print out and exchange it for a 1 pound off.

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

I don't think...first of all it's a trust thing. Because you think...they want to sell me petrol...and they are not the person who should be telling how to get the most out of every drop and if they do it doesn't mean I'm not going to their petrol station because it's not going to do anything to enhance the Shells image in my head.

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

Just the quality of the product itself...hmmm...I don't think any difference between the petrol's available in the U.K

8. How do you feel when interacting with online promotions of Shell?

Boring...It was too long and it was too slow when I interacted with the website. I wanted to quit. It's a good idea but I had to watch the car driving along and you just have to watch it and it's not like a game and u have nothing to do for 10 seconds...it should have something to do like a button where u can skip forward...it gives driving tips which was boring and every slide made wait for a few seconds ...it made me feel to quit half way through...it was kind of boring to surf through.

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

It was just boring it was nothing exciting it seemed to be a little old fashioned.

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

No it was very good ...it was a very well made site I liked the way it was not just links and u click...it had stuff moving around...it seems like very well integrated and it runs smoothly and it was quite fast...the promotion one is fast and the rest of the site was quite fast as well.

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

I don't like giving personal information...I put someone else name in...I don't see a point although it was just asking for some basic information. Like name and gender...but still I did not want to give any information. I don't like emm...I was kind of hesitant...I don't like to give my details.

12.If it was on Yahoo or goggle ill be more likely to come across it...but I would be less likely to go on Shell website.... but if it's a trust thing you got be on the Shell website like obviously u don't want to be on a intermediary u don't know really know...but if it's on the Shell website it's a big brand so you got a trust it more...but if the external website directs me to the shell website it could be the same but initially I wouldn't click on it if it was on Yahoo or goggle.

13. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

If it's a transaction if I buy something then I will trust it because for online shopping and a big company like shell has to follow a lot of regulations and a lot of checks so I trust that but I don't trust if they just ask for name and details I don't trust them because they can sell it and I start getting spam or junk emails. But for transactions I trust it.

14. If you were the responsible for implementing the promotions what changes would you incorporate?

1 pound is cheap because I'm spending 40 or 50 pounds on petrol for 1 pound off and 41 or 51 does not make a difference. I think it should be something per litre and so it's like the more you spend...There are other companies like TESCO's where u have a top up card where they give u 5 pence per litre of petrol that's cheaper petrol anyway...something like that...just like a loyalty scheme which has money off petrol I will sign up for it. And it's a lot of effort to download for 1 pound but if it's a card u just show your card and u get your discount.

Transcript 8:

Transcript 9:

Environmentally conscious and able to develop fuel efficiency products.

1. How often do you shop online?

I'm online almost every day but I shop depending on my need or if I find something interesting.

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

Umm ...I thought it was a good idea...but when I started to interact with the website I thought they were asking a lot of questions just for the sake of getting a voucher and wasn't really sure whether the exchange of information merited the reward that may be forthcoming in comparison with other reward schemes that you can simply sign up like the premier points with BP.

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

I think the Shell name is kind of long established although it's a Dutch company with some kind of British link so... hmm...in buying Shell I don't feel that I'm totally promoting a foreign organisation and the name Shell at least has a concept of a English word so I don't feel too alienated from the company.

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

Uhmmm...It was quite easy to operate ...looked probably intentionally very basic I think some of the fonts could have been a little bit clearer...and I think the information they provided was useful but quite basic.

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

Possibly ....but I don't like using fictitious information against my name but at the same time I don't really know what they are using the information for...if its stored and not used or some kind of procedure and is means to an end or are they goanna build a massive database on me. I could see probably using the vouchers....well I think it's a good idea in ensuring that people go consistently to buy fuel for their car from Shell.

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

Well I don't know whether the fuel from Shell is any better than Bp's fuel and a few years ago they had some fancy fuel which ripped quite a few cars. But I think they have moved on from there...But To be honest I'm not a scientist but so I don't think that there is anything in the fuel itself but it's the way you drive so the tips are helping the driver and is quite useful and through that maybe I can believe that I get most out of every drop.

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

Well I trust it for my engine but I wouldn't know if it's rated more highly than BP or perhaps some of the other ones but the perception is that it would probably be or could be better than some of the ones you get from a supermarket outlet.

8. How do you feel when interacting with online promotions of Shell?

I think the little program that we run was a quite fine but I don't know if I would go back to it...I think I would find it a little bit frustrating getting through all the menus to drive a bit of information but I do recognise that, that's the way they promote things now through a little story. But sometimes perhaps a fact sheet would suffice for me.

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

Hmm I think it was fine.....I think it communicates the message that Shell wants their customers to get the best value from their product through wisely using their fuel and may be thinking outside of the box which we normally would do.

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

It was fairly easy but I thought some of the font sizes were a bit too small to see and the colours were not clear.

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

Hmmm I don't have any problem with gender and things like that its only when they ask you for your address and your date of birth .I think possibly an age range and a post code would have been sufficient...I think the questions was too specific and it doesn't really want to promote the feeling that you want to give the information that they want really. I think it was fine I didn't mind giving out my name and the gender but there was no problem with that.But if the next screen would have asked for my email address my phone number my date of birth and my salary,what I do? I would have stopped....I would think if I really need to give up this information. If I felt that I was giving more information than I was probably goanna benefit from going further.

12. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

I have no means of knowing how secure it is I basically regard as anything that you put on the internet as almost public.

13.Yahoo or google

hmm...the same shell promotion!...I have not come across it on yahoo or Google website but I suppose I would think of it as the same but in theory if it was directly from the source you would think it's less likely to be some kind of fraud...but that's not so much of my concern but what happens to the data even if u put it into a bonafide source any way how secure is the information.

14. If you were the responsible for implementing these promotions what changes would you

incorporate?

I would keep with the name, first name second name and gender information and if you want a age range put a age range in blocks of 10 years to the end or would remove it.I think 2 and half percent discount is useful and it's kind of Inline with other disccounts in shops or the premier points with BP...hmm I'm don't know if I need a colour printer or 1 could get away with the black and white printer....Uhhh I could see that it could be complicated with people whose printer is broken down or dont have a printer it would be frustrating. And in many respects I would have thought just to hand in the card over and it clock up the points at the point of sale and being able avail the discount rather than downloading and printing vochers and producing it. I think vouchers are a bit old fashioned in a way.

Transcript 10

Yes I have...They refine and retail petrol and petrol related products I mean oil etc.

1. How often do you shop online?

Yes ...Probably once a week...almost daily

2. What does the online promotion of Shell invoke in you?

Sorry could you repeat the question...It wouldn't inspire me to go to shell or not go to shell. It doesn't make any difference to me...

3. Why do you prefer Shell fuels for your vehicles?

It is purely based on convenience and nothing much to it.

4. How do you perceive the promotion on Shell's website?

Umm..They are fine but they don't work for me in terms of making me go to shell over and above anybody else. The promotions on the website aren't things that would make me go to shell over others.

5. Would you be interested in using the e-voucher to redeem the amount specified?

They don't make me choose one petrol company over the other

6. What do you feel when you read the quote ““Get the most out of every drop”?

I think it's probably similar to every other fuel company

7. What is your perception on the quality of fuels from Shell?

My perception is the same as everybody else as I don't find a difference in petrol.

8. How do you feel when interacting with online promotions of Shell?

Well I could see that they are trying to promote umm their brand over another brand and I see myself as fairly experienced so I know all that they say on the website. Generally I do a lot of miles I have either to choose a petrol station nearest to me or I stick to particular brand that is cheaper I usually use the TESCO's where I have 5pence off for a litre.

9. What is your experience in engaging with shell online promotions?

Neither it wouldn't make any difference to me..it has to be very very significant offer to make me do anything.

Yeah I think Shell is a trusted company and brand so I wouldn't have any distrust in their offer.

10. What do you feel about the usability of the site?

It was user-friendly but it did not tell me or offer anything extra than I was already getting. It was easy to navigate around...the offers on there wouldn't make me choose Shell specifically.

No I feel a product is commodity that I have to buy to keep my car going and it's not something which I attach any brand specific loyalty to it...I don't see any specific loyalty to it.

11. What do you feel when you are asked for information online?

I wouldn't engage with it because it is not something that I want to be involved with for me it's just something that I want to use for my car so I wouldn't waste time giving information for a 1pound voucher.

Just looking at the promotions on the website it tries to make more of petrol than it actually is. For me it's just something that I have to put into my car.

12. How much trust do you have on the integrity of the information submitted?

I trust shell as I see them as a large trusted oil company....But since the product itself I see it as a commodity and I wouldn't engage with it.

13. How much trust would you have on the same promotion if they were on yahoo?

No it would be the same level of trust as on the Shell website itself I almost see them as trusted websites. I think Shell is a trusted company and a trusted brand and I wouldn't have any distrust in their brand or offer.

14. If you were the responsible for implementing the promotions what changes would you incorporate?

To make it more significant! Any offer is more significant. I certainly feel that buying petrol is more often a matter of convenience than about the brand. I think they are not showing me anything other than about petrol which I already know. I don't want to know about petrol I just want to put it into my car. They are not really telling me something new that I don't know so it doesn't engage me at all.

Shell Fuels campaighn -Evouchering promotion

Objective

• Drive online traffic to the forecourt

• Test voucher appeal to Shell customers

• Influence trial via portal web traffic

Costs

Voucher company £18k

Creative Design £20k

Fulfilment cost £2-8k

Drivers:

Banners placed on Yahoo, couponnet, and Shell.co.uk & hub

The quality of enagement changes depending on where the voucher was seeded.This is shown with the changes in the rate of redemption across the channels evouchering April - November

Current Target

31,794 prints of vouchers 60,000 prints of vouchers

4,452 redemption 6,500 redemption

£10.33 cost of activation £ 6.90 cost of activation

84,114 visits to website

127,184 page views

E-vochering Mechanics in the U.k:

Summary of findings from Secondary data:

• Vouchers offered in the UK were within Shell/Loyalty £1.00, Yahoo £1.00, £1.50 and £2.00

• The most traffic to the voucher was after the loyalty promotion in mid June (8.7k), & September (7.5k).

• The traffic to the Shell UK site has increased significantly due to the promotion

• Although a significant interest in the voucher this does not correlate with people printing them off and redeeming.

• The voucher conversion rate for an FMCG product from printing the voucher to redemption is 30% the rate for Shell currently is 14%

• A significant amount of vouchers were printed off from coupon web sites I.e. couponnet, Uk hotdeals, money supermarket.com but the correlation between prints (9.8k) and redemption (0.6k) is 6%

• The quality of a Shell redeemer is much higher with (18.3k) prints with (3.3k) redemption representing an 18% redemption rate.

Source :Shell

E-vouchering Mechanics in the U.K

The process to redeem vouchers has been kept simple to ensure promotion can be executed correctly:

1) Customer prints off a coupon at home giving them £1 off a fill of V-Power.

2) When they come to pay, Customer Assistant cashes off £1 of the V-Power transaction, takes the coupon from the customer and then processes the rest of the transaction using standard methods of payment (card or cash).

3) The voucher is then effectively has the same value to the retailer as a £1 coin. He/she then mails to our clearing house (Valassis) who then re-inburse the retailer.

4) We (Shell) have Purchase Order set up with Valassis to reimburse them for vouchers redeemed at the end of the month.