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Relating to Peapod

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
2512 3167 Words (9 Pages) Susan Fournier, Jill Avery Harvard Business School : 314142
This solution includes: A Word File A Word File

The case is focused on relationship marketing, and aims to understand how brands – especially service brands – develop, foster, and maintain critical relations with consumers to help them enhance their offerings and sustainability over the long run. The case also explores issues and topics of customer acquisition, brand loyalty, service failure, customer service, and recovery as well as new product introduction and marketing along with consumer research and ethnographic studies. Focusing on the example of peapod, an online grocery delivery service, the case sheds light on the relationships that the brand had been able to develop with Boston shoppers as revealed through an ethnographic study spanning over two years – from 1997 – to 1999. There are four examples of consumers - of which three are represented in great detail, and built on insights developed from case history interviews. These insights focus on how brands built, ruptured, and recover relation formed with different consumers, and the importance of maintaining and building on the brand contract for a successful continuation of value offerings.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. Provide a detailed synopsis of the case.

  2. Provide the case dilemma.

  3. What initial meanings do Beatrice, Russell, and Michelle associate with grocery shopping? How does Peapod’s e-commerce service accommodate and/or change those meanings?

  4. Are there any qualities, characteristics, or life projects that render individuals more or less likely to institute a relationship with Peapod? If so, how can Peapod leverage that in their brand positioning?

  5. What types of relationships do Beatrice, Russell, and Michelle respectively have with Peapod? What are the rules governing these relationships? Where do these rules come from?

  6. What determines the evolving character of consumers’ relationships with the Peapod service, their deepening or weakening over time?

  7. Think about the specific difficulties experienced by Beatrice, Russell, and Michelle over the course of their relationships with Peapod. Do such “interrupts” fall into different types or categories? How do these consumers respond to Peapod’s transgressions? Do relationship transgressions necessarily lead to relationship termination? When do they and when do they not?

  8. Offer a prediction regarding Beatrice’s reaction to Peapod’s service recovery attempt.

  9. What specific marketing strategies might Peapod’s leadership employ to strengthen bonds with Russell and Michelle?

Case Study Questions Answers

1. Provide a detailed synopsis of the case.

Peapod was an online grocery delivery service, operating from its HQ in Boston with multiple branches across the region. The case highlights a longitudinal study that was conducted over a period of two years whereby the relationship between peapod and its customers was examined and evaluated. The case has identified four specific case histories in this regard to understand and explore the formation of relations between consumers and a service brand – and identify influencing factors and aspects. The case has also provided insights into the aspects and influences on brand contracts, and how they weaken or strengthen over time. The case centers on understanding the need for effective relation building for brands with consumers, and aims to assess the same using four different examples of relationships that were formed by consumers with the peapod brand over time. These relationships have been evaluated and studied for their evolving nature over time to help managers make a more informed decisions, and look beyond numbers for ensuring long arm, effective consumer management, and relationship building. Relationship building is an important part of brand management as it allows the brand team, and the brand to connect directly with the consumers on an emotional basis. This emotional connection is important for building consumer loyalty and commitment – needed for repeat purchases and positive word of mouth. In this essence, the relationship building efforts and investments become a key distinguisher for the brand from the competition – leading to the development and maintenance of long-term, sustainable competitive advantage as well. The same has also been explored in the case through focusing on the example of peapod – and how the brand had successfully and unsuccessfully built relations with the customers over time, and managed them for developing an edge over the competitive players within the industry.

2. Provide the case dilemma.

The case dilemma is centered on faltering consumer relationships with brands, and what leads to the same. For peapod, relation building and management with four different consumers has been explored. The case highlights the personal uses and challenges that the customers face in online shopping and order placement. These issues range from been brand-oriented to personal as well. The case dilemma, therefore, is focused on understanding the loopholes in effective consumer-brand relationship building and management, and addressing the same issues for ensuring the longevity of the business and consumer loyalty.

The case has highlighted a number of personal issues and challenges that consumers have faced with using peapods. These include for example bad product quality, unwanted communications prompting consumers to spend more, and shop more; untrusted delivery men and agents whose histories have not been verified by the company – leading to consumers being robbed and left alone; falling consumer service and long waiting turns; and inattentive consumer service representatives for instance. These building issues led to denting relationships that had otherwise been long standing with the brand. The case explores four different consumers who faced different issues with the brand – based on their personal circumstances and situations. These issues were largely rooted in the brand indifference, as well as personal frustrations and challenges that the people were going through in identifying both, and interlinking both, the case presents the true dilemma for brands like peapod: how to effectively and successfully build, navigate and manage consumer relations owing to the changing brand dynamics, and personal issues and challenges that people are faced with at different times.

3. What initial meanings do Beatrice, Russell, and Michelle associate with grocery shopping? How does Peapod’s e-commerce service accommodate and/or change those meanings?

For Beatrice, shopping for grocery meant enjoyment. She saw grocery shopping not as a task, but as a means of fun and socializing she enjoyed the long aisles with the various products it offered. She also liked touching and feeling the items before repurchasing. Owing to her busy schedule, however, she started to use peapod. The e-commerce service changed her meaning for grocery shopping. She realized she needed to be more attentive to brand names and quantities when doing grocery shopping. In addition, the ease and convenience that peapod offered soon made regular grocery shopping a dreaded chore that Beatrice tried to avoid. 

For rustle, grocery shopping meant a waste of time. With a busy schedule, rustle did not get the time to shop for groceries personally. He did not like doing it wither, and preferred to spend his time over his business instead. With the use of peapod’s grocery delivery service, rustle accommodated this view further. The delivery service allowed him to focus more on work, and while it required extra spending, rustle was happy to do so for being able to devote more time to work and more important things - which otherwise would have been compromised.

For Michelle, grocery shopping-related to making choices and being in control. This was specifically true in terms of the mode for grocery shopping which she chose. Trying to establish a more confident and a new self-identity and personality development, Michelle struggled with social interactions, emotional instability, depression, and anxiety. Being in a shopping store still heightened these feelings for her – cause of which she often dreaded grocery and being in public. This was especially true since she was recovering from an abusive and a broken marriage. Peapod allowed Michelle to enjoy grocery shopping – where she would calmly, without depression, be able to order anything she wanted from the comfort and convenience of her home – regardless of the time, or her own personal attire. This made grocery shopping more enjoyable for her.

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