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Abstract

This paper explores the influence of pursuing goals on customer channel preference in Chinese rural market. With the rapid change in distribution channels and increase in multi-channels, it is necessary to understand the preference for channel choice as well as product choice. This study empirically validated the conceptual framework of the relationship between the pursuing goals and customer channel choice proposed by Balasubramanian, Raghunathan, and Mahajan (2005). Based on the survey data of 232 fertilizer customers in Chinese rural market, this study explores how economic, social, and psychological pursuing goals can impact customer channel preference by mediating variables of product utility and process utility. The results indicate that pursuing goals positively related with product utility and process utility, and product / process utility can mediate the relationship between pursuing goals and customer channel preference positively. Consequently, we can conclude that customers` economic-social- psychological pursuing goals can directly influence customer channel preference via their purchase process utility and product utility. This result also implies that product utility is effective on process utility during consumer`s buying decision making, and process utility and product utility are not mutually independent. Therefore, purchase process utility is a “latent driving force” on customer`s channel choice decision.

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