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WhatsApp communication service: a controversial tool for luxury brands

Mona Mrad (Department of Marketing and Information Systems, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Maya Farah (Department of Marketing, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon)
Nour Mehdi (School of Business, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 11 April 2022

Issue publication date: 31 May 2022

516

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore the pros and cons of WhatsApp communication service and its likely effects on consumer behavior and one’s perception of luxury brands.

Design/methodology/approach

This study conducted 27 in-depth interviews with UK-based participants. This study used NVivo12 to thematically analyze the collected data.

Findings

The findings indicate that perceived communication convenience, searching for prepurchase information, intimate consumer–brand relationship, perceived self-worth and the thrill of a new service positively contribute to luxury customers’ acceptance of WhatsApp communication usage. Nevertheless, many factors including push promotional strategy, poor service quality, brand “massification” effect, deficient sensory experience, fear of financial risk and deceptive practices, all curbed the participants’ acceptance of this communication platform. When service is poor, all these factors jeopardized the luxury image, causing an impaired brand image, accompanied with negative word of mouth and in some instances, unexpected anticonsumption reactions.

Research limitations/implications

This study carries the limitations of any exploratory and qualitative research. Therefore, future research should replicate this study in other areas and for other instant messaging platforms.

Practical implications

The implications of this study serve as a reference for luxury brands’ managers when managing their WhatsApp service. This study provides important insights into the risk of using WhatsApp by luxury brands to communicate with customers. The overall conclusion is that WhatsApp communication service requires a close, supervised and innovative use to benefit luxury brands.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the topic of WhatsApp usage as a communication mean in the luxury industry is still largely underexplored, hence filling a gap in the literature that needs to be addressed given its significant implications.

Keywords

Citation

Mrad, M., Farah, M. and Mehdi, N. (2022), "WhatsApp communication service: a controversial tool for luxury brands", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 337-360. https://doi.org/10.1108/QMR-10-2021-0132

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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