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Journal of Consumer Marketing The Strategic and Tactical Implications of Convenience in Consumer Product Marketing Lewhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000002550 Downloaded on: 16 September 2015, At: 09:54 (PT) References: this document contains references to 0 other documents. To copy this document: permissions@emeraldinsight.com The fulltext of this document has been downloaded 953 times since 2006* Users who downloaded this article also downloaded: Lew G. Brown, (1990),"Convenience in Services Marketing", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 4 Iss 1 pp. 53-59 http:// dx.doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000002505 Christian Grönroos, (1996),"Relationship marketing: strategic and tactical implications", Management Decision, Vol. 34 Iss 3 pp. 5-14 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00251749610113613 Bernard Cova, Stefano Pace, (2006),"Brand community of convenience products: new forms of customer empowerment – the case “my Nutella The Community”", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 40 Iss 9/10 pp. 1087-1105 http:// dx.doi.org/10.1108/03090560610681023 Access to this document was granted through an Emerald subscription provided by emerald-srm:608412 [] For Authors If you would like to write for this, or any other Emerald publication, then please use our Emerald for Authors service information about how to choose which publication to write for and submission guidelines are available for all. Please visit www.emeraldinsight.com/authors for more information. About Emerald www.emeraldinsight.com Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,350 books and book series volumes, as well as providing an extensive range of online products and additional customer resources and services. Emerald is both COUNTER 4 and TRANSFER compliant. The organization is a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and also works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation. *Related content and download information correct at time of download. " id="pdf-obj-0-5" src="pdf-obj-0-5.jpg">

Journal of Consumer Marketing

Journal of Consumer Marketing The Strategic and Tactical Implications of Convenience in Consumer Product Marketing Lewhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000002550 Downloaded on: 16 September 2015, At: 09:54 (PT) References: this document contains references to 0 other documents. To copy this document: permissions@emeraldinsight.com The fulltext of this document has been downloaded 953 times since 2006* Users who downloaded this article also downloaded: Lew G. Brown, (1990),"Convenience in Services Marketing", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 4 Iss 1 pp. 53-59 http:// dx.doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000002505 Christian Grönroos, (1996),"Relationship marketing: strategic and tactical implications", Management Decision, Vol. 34 Iss 3 pp. 5-14 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00251749610113613 Bernard Cova, Stefano Pace, (2006),"Brand community of convenience products: new forms of customer empowerment – the case “my Nutella The Community”", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 40 Iss 9/10 pp. 1087-1105 http:// dx.doi.org/10.1108/03090560610681023 Access to this document was granted through an Emerald subscription provided by emerald-srm:608412 [] For Authors If you would like to write for this, or any other Emerald publication, then please use our Emerald for Authors service information about how to choose which publication to write for and submission guidelines are available for all. Please visit www.emeraldinsight.com/authors for more information. About Emerald www.emeraldinsight.com Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,350 books and book series volumes, as well as providing an extensive range of online products and additional customer resources and services. Emerald is both COUNTER 4 and TRANSFER compliant. The organization is a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and also works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation. *Related content and download information correct at time of download. " id="pdf-obj-0-9" src="pdf-obj-0-9.jpg">

The Strategic and Tactical Implications of Convenience in Consumer Product Marketing

Lew G. Brown

Article information:

To cite this document:

Lew G. Brown, (1989),"The Strategic and Tactical Implications of Convenience in Consumer Product Marketing", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 6 Iss 3 pp. 13 - 19

Permanent link to this document:

Downloaded on: 16 September 2015, At: 09:54 (PT) References: this document contains references to 0 other documents. To copy this document: permissions@emeraldinsight.com The fulltext of this document has been downloaded 953 times since 2006*

Users who downloaded this article also downloaded:

Lew G. Brown, (1990),"Convenience in Services Marketing", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 4 Iss 1 pp. 53-59 http://

dx.doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000002505

Christian Grönroos, (1996),"Relationship marketing: strategic and tactical implications", Management Decision, Vol. 34 Iss 3 pp. 5-14 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00251749610113613

Bernard Cova, Stefano Pace, (2006),"Brand community of convenience products: new forms of customer empowerment – the case “my Nutella The Community”", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 40 Iss 9/10 pp. 1087-1105 http://

dx.doi.org/10.1108/03090560610681023

Access to this document was granted through an Emerald subscription provided by emerald-srm:608412 []

For Authors

If you would like to write for this, or any other Emerald publication, then please use our Emerald for Authors service information about how to choose which publication to write for and submission guidelines are available for all. Please visit www.emeraldinsight.com/authors for more information.

About Emerald www.emeraldinsight.com

Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,350 books and book series volumes, as well as providing an extensive range of online products and additional customer resources and services.

Emerald is both COUNTER 4 and TRANSFER compliant. The organization is a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and also works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation.

*Related content and download information correct at time of download.

Downloaded by Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse At 09:54 16 September 2015 (PT)

THE STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL IMPLI- CATIONS OF CONVENIENCE IN CON- SUMER PRODUCT MARKETING

Lew G. Brown

This article suggests that the construct

of

convenience has not been clearly defined and operationalized by marketers. Convenience should be seen as a multidimensional con- struct. A conceptual framework is proposed which can be used to examine the conve- nience of consumer products. Such examina- tion will highlight strategic and tactical mar- keting opportunities. Implications for man- agers are discussed.

From a marketing viewpoint, the 1980s may well be seen in retrospect as the Age of Convenience. A number of socioeconomic fac- tors have converged to encourage, if not force, consumers and businesses to seek convenience in the goods and services they buy. Yet despite the frequency with which the term "conve- nience" appears in marketing conversations and the popular press, one finds very little dis- cussion of the term in the marketing literature.

Lew G. Brown has an A.B. in Political Science and an M.P.A., M.B.A., and Ph.D. in Marketing, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He teaches marketing, marketing strategy, and business policy at UNC-Greensboro. In addition to convenience, his research interests include marketing in the public sector, marketing new and/or high tech- nology products, and marketing under uncertainty.

Appreciation is expressed to Dr. Martha McEnally for her helpful suggestions on this paper.

Vol. 6 No. 3 Summer 1989

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THE JOURNAL OF CONSUMER MARKETING

It will be suggested here that convenience should be seen as a multidimensional con- struct, and a conceptual framework will be proposed which can be used to examine the construct of convenience. This framework sug- gests that there are a number of dimensions to convenience other than time-saving and that the analysis of consumer product markets using this framework will highlight strategic and tactical marketing opportunities.

The Relevance of Convenience

In its April 27, 1987 cover story, "PRESTO! The Convenience Industry: Making Life a Little Simpler," 5 Business Week quotes Faith Popcorn of BrainReserve, Inc., a New York marketing consultancy, as indicating that consumers will spend as much as $100 per hour on conve- niences. The magazine highlights a number of small entrepreneurial start-ups as well as larger, publicly held firms which are serving con- sumers' demands for convenience. The prod- ucts provided by these firms range from pre- pared foods to new tires installed in your drive- way. This demand, Business Week argues, is fueled by the increase in dual-wage families, up from 26 percent in the early 1960s to 44 per- cent in 1987. With more money and less time, these consumers seek time-saving goods and services. Further, this increase in the demand for convenience goods and services is predicted to continue to grow rapidly. Business Week notes that "Megatrends author John Naisbitt predicts that the convenience industry will account for franchising's biggest gains in the next 20 years."

While Business Week focuses on the new business opportunities offered by the conve- nience industry, it is also important to note that existing businesses have responded to the convenience trends. Lenscrafters placed its laboratories at sales store locations to offer completed eyeglasses in "about an hour. " Some Arby's now accept VISA cards. Some 7- Eleven stores are experimenting with fran- chisees such as Hardees and Church's Fried Chicken to offer fast food in their stores.

In the face of the market's response

to

the

demand for convenience, it is appropriate

for marketers of consumer products to re- examine the concept of convenience. What is convenience? What do we know about it? What do we need to know about it? What does it mean for strategic and tactical marketing considerations?

Literature Review

A review of the marketing literature finds relatively little work in the area of conve- nience. The general thrust of the articles has been to attempt to determine the characteris-

tics of households

that are determined to be

more convenience-oriented. Convenience ori-

entation is

often focused on convenienc e

goods (such as consumer durables) or conve-

nience foods. Income, socioeconomic status,

employment status wage earner), and

of the wife (or a second stage of the family life

cycle have been addressed. These studies gen- erally fail to find the hypothesized relation- ship between the household characteristic and convenience orientation. 1-4, 13-15, 16-25

Convenience is usually discussed in connection with the classification of goods and services.

The Business Week article referred to above, like much of the popular press, attributes the ris e in convenienc e consumptio n to the increasing number of dual-worker families. Yet the literature review presents a string of stud- ies that have failed to confirm this hypothesis. Once family income is controlled, the presence or absence of a second wage earner seems to be insignificant in the studies reviewed. Further, while common sense indicates that the desire

to save, or at least to manage time better, is an important factor in convenience consumption, the literature suggests that "time" is not a sim- ple construct and that other factors must be

involved in the desire

for convenience. 6-10, 12

These findings suggest that an examination of

the construct of convenience is in order.

What is Convenience?

It is interesting to note that none

of the arti-

cles reviewed attempted to clarify the concept of convenience. The term seems to be one that

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THE STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF CONVENIENCE

researchers feel is clear and apparent to every- one. In one study, respondents were asked about their usage of 52 preselected conve- nience food items and 50 preselected durables. There was no specific discussion,

however, of how these items were selected.

1

In

this and other studies, certain food and durable goods are simply assumed to be con- venience items. Were they all equally conve- nient? Were they seen as being convenient by the respondents? It may be that the failure to find hypothesized relationships is due to the failure to understand and operationalize the concept of convenience.

Webster's defines convenience as, "any- thing that adds to one's comfort or saves work; useful, handy or helpful device, arti- cle, service, etc." Note that the definition suggests a psychological dimension, "adds to one's comfort," that is seldom if ever mentioned in the literature. The literature has concentrated almost exclusively on the time-saving aspect of convenience. Things that "save work" are seen as really saving time. Even the dictionary definition suggests that the meaning of convenience is not uni- dimensional.

The most obvious convenience is simply having someone else provide the product for the consumer.

In marketing textbooks, convenience is usu- ally discussed in connection with the classifi- cation of goods and services. A typical defini- tion of convenience goods states that they are goods that the customer usually purchases frequently, immediately, and with the mini- mum of effort in comparing and buying. 11 Further, the items may be low in risk for the consumer. Examples are tobacco products, soap, and newspapers.

Part of the confusion over the word "conve- nience" is caused by its use to denote the effort used in purchasing a product rather than as a characteristic of the product. The confusion could be clarified by our calling low-effort, low-risk products "low-involvement goods." Certainly, many of the convenience products

and services being purchased today are not low in effort, risk, or cost. If consumers are willing to pay up to $100 an hour for convenience, marketing should have a clear definition of what convenience is.

Convenience: A Conceptual Framework

In the literature review, only one article was found that suggested that convenience is a multidimensional construct. 25 The authors sug- gested that there are six "classes" of conve- nience: time utilization, accessibility, portabili- ty, appropriateness, handiness, and avoidance of unpleasantness. These classes, however, do not derive from any theory, and several of them, such as "appropriateness" are ambigu- ous and difficult to measure.

It is proposed

that the concept of conve-

nience has at least five dimensions:

1. Time Dimension: Products may be provid- ed at a time that is most convenient for the customer. Home delivery of products, such as pizza, can provide the product at a convenient time. Note that this dimension does not mean "time-saving." It may take just as much clock time for the consumer to acquire or use the product, but acquisition can be made at a con- venient time.

2. Place Dimension: Products may be provid- ed in a place that is more convenient for the customer. The branch bank, the combination convenience store/gas station, and at-home car windshield replacements are examples.

3. Acquisition Dimension: Firms may make it easier for the customer, financially and other- wise, to purchase their products. Accepting credit cards and developing credit plans are examples. Home shopping via television also makes acquisition more convenient since a sim- ple telephone call can complete the purchase. Bank automated teller cards are now being used to purchase gasoline, groceries, and fast food through cash registers designed to accept the cards at the point of purchase and debit the con- sumer's checking account.

4. Use Dimension:

Products may be made

more convenient for the customer to use. The

impact of microwave technology has dramati-

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THE JOURNAL OF CONSUMER MARKETING

cally changed the nature of home cooking. The phrase, "just add water," is also evidence of the impact of use convenience on food prepa- ration. "Easy to use" is another phrase that fre- quently adorns packages.

5. Execution Dimension: Perhaps the most obvious convenience is simply having some- one else provide the product for the consumer. The development of delicatessens in food stores which offer a full range of fully cooked meats an d vegetable s or the rise of the "gourmet" frozen dinner are examples of con- sumers' willingness to pay for a higher level of "preparation " of consume r products. Customers may be willing to "contract out" all or portions of jobs they previously would have done themselves.

The first four dimensions are suggested by economic utility theory, which states that con- sumers desire time, place, possession, and form utility. Convenience is, in one sense, a summary variable for the four dimensions. The ultimate convenient product or service would be available continuously (time) and every- where (place) and would require almost no effort to acquire (possession) or use (form). The fifth dimension, however, is different. The con- sumer can choose how much mental or physi- cal effort he or she wishes to expend in obtain- ing a product. This dimension will be dis- cussed in more detail later.

Time-saving is not a separat e dimension of convenience.

One will note that "time-saving" is not a

separate dimension of convenience. While sav- ing time may be a benefit of a convenient prod- uct and the reason a consumer is interested in

the product, it may not be a characteristic

of

the product itself. A person may purchase a product that has time, place, acquisition, or use convenience whether or not the product itself saves the purchaser any time. The benefit of saving time is most apparent in the execu- tion dimension.

Each of the dimensions can be scaled in some fashion. For example, a product can be offered at only one time, or at very inconvenient times, or it may be offered continuously. Products

obviously can combine two or more types of convenience. Having a pizza delivered to one's home at 11:30 P.M. provides both time, place, and execution convenience.

This discussion points out that the benefits of a convenient product may be many and var- ied, recalling Webster's phrase, "adding to one's comfort." Comfort may be many things. A person may find status in using convenient products. Shopping by means of a Neiman- Marcus catalog represents acquisition conve- nience and may save time relative to going to the store, but the real value to the consumer may be the status aspect. Further, the demand for convenience is situational. One may want a home-delivered pizza tonight, but next week may wish to cook one from scratch.

Strategic and Tactical Implications

The dimensions of convenience suggest that firms may use convenience for either strategic or tactical purposes. A grocery store that sim- ply extends its closing time from 6 to 9 P.M. is using the time dimension for tactical purposes. There is no specific attempt to change target markets or alter the basic nature of the service. However, Grocery Express, a San Francisco phone-order grocery business which serves both residences and offices, is using conve- nience as a strategic variable to target market segments ignored or underserved by traditional stores' strategies.

Other example s of the strategic us e of convenience include Lenscrafters. By having the lens-grinding labs located at the retail sales store, the firm reduced the customer's wait for new glasses from up to one week to about one hour. This reduced waiting time gives Lenscrafter a competitive advantage. Pizza Hut has entered the home delivery of pizz a produc t marke t and established its delivery operation as a unit separate from its restaurant operations. L'il Caesars offers onl y pizz a for pickup . Home Shoppin g Network uses acquisition convenience as a strategic variable.

These examples suggest that the execution dimension of convenience is especially worthy of examination. For most consumer products

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THE STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF CONVENIENCE

there is a continuum which runs from a total "do-it-yourself" position at one extreme to "total convenience"at the other. An example of this "convenience continuum" for the product category, pizza, is shown below:

DO IT YOURSELF

From Scratch Pizza

Boxed Pizza Mix Frozen Pizza Pizza in Restaurant Pick up Pizza Home Delivered Pizza

TOTAL CONVENIENCE

This hypothetical continuum suggests that where a business chooses to place its product on this continuum should be a conscious deci- sion which takes customer convenience and business strategy into account.

One might expect that as the product or ser- vice position on the continuum moves from the do-it-yourself end toward the total conve- nience end, the price to the consumer and the cost to the business both increase. However, as one moves along the continuum, the nature of the product itself may change and alter the nature of the price/cost relationship. For exam- ple, as one moves from pizza served in a restaurant to pizza delivered at home, the busi- ness may be able to specialize in home delivery and avoid the expense of the seating/eating area and associated staff. If these savings are greater than the costs incurred to deliver the pizza, they may be passed along to the customer. Thus it may be possible to get a home-delivered pizza that is priced the same or less than an equivalent pizza in a restaurant. Or, the business may retain some of the savings in the form of higher profits.

Also, each product on the continuum may have a different level of time, place, use, and acquisition convenience. Thus these dimensions can vary across the continuum. One can cook a frozen pizza at any time (high on time dimen- sion but lower on execution dimension), or one can order a pizza from a home delivery service (lower on time dimension since the service must be "open," but higher on execution dimension).

The continuum makes it necessary to con- sider both the nature of the product at differ- ent points as well as the distribution of cus- tomers. Customers might be "normally dis- tributed" along the continuum with the largest customer groups being found in the middle. A firm might want to target market segments in this area, or it might want to see if there are significant market segments will- ing to pay for more convenience or interested in the savings possible toward the "do-it- yourself" end. Hechinger's is an example of a firm that has developed a strategy aimed at the do-it-yourself home improvement market segment. For some product categories, one would speculate that there is a bimodal dis- tribution—customer concentrations at each end of the continuum. In these cases, strate- gies might be aimed at providing products in the middle if customers can be drawn to this position.

Managerial Implications and Recommendations

For practitioners, the discussion of the aspects of convenience and the convenience continuum leads to the practical question, "Are my products convenient?" A "convenience audit" of an existing or planned business may reveal market opportunities that can lead to higher returns and competitive advantage.

The continuum makes it necessary to consider both the nature of the

product at different

points as well

as the distribution of customers.

Managers might analyze their business and their competition from the point of view of the convenience framework. Are there ways to make my products more convenient in the time or place dimensions? Are there ways to combine two or more dimensions to attract a new market segment or gain a competitive advantage in serving an existing segment? Are there ways to position my product on the con- venience continuum in order to attract new segments? Will such positioning affect my cost structure to allow reduced costs or increased

17

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THE JOURNAL OF CONSUMER MARKETING

margins? Is my product already well-posi-

tioned from a convenience point of view, but

am I failing

to capture the value I am provid-

ing? Do I need to emphasize convenience in

my promotional strategy? Are different dimen- sions of convenience worth more than others

to

my

customers?

What

is

worth to my customers?

convenienc e

Given the past and predicted growth of the convenience industry, marketers and managers would benefit from an improved understanding of the concept of convenience.

End Notes

  • 1. Anderson, W. T., Jr., "An Analysis of the Correlates of Convenience-Oriented Consumer Behavior, With Special Emphasis on Selected Convenience Foods and Durable Goods," unpublished doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, 1969.

  • 2. Anderson, W. T., Jr., "Convenience Orientation and Consumption Behavior," Journal of Retailing, 48 (Fall 1972), 49-77.

  • 3. Bellante, D., and A. C. Foster, "Working Wives and Expenditure on Services," Journal

of

Consumer

Research,

11 (September 1984), 700-707.

 
  • 4. Bellizzi, J. A., and R. E. Hite, "Convenience Consumption and Role Overload Convenience,"

Journal

of the Academy

of Marketing

Science,

14 (Winter 1986), 1-9.

  • 5. Week,

Business

"PRESTO! The Convenience Industry: Making Life a Little Simpler," April

27, 1987, pp. 86-94.

  • 6. Cherlow, J. R., "Measuring Values of Travel Time Savings," Journal of Consumer Research, 7 (March 1981), 360-371.

  • 7. Feldman, L. P., and J. Hornik, "The Use of Time: An Integrated Conceptual Model," of Consumer Research,

7 (March 1981), 407-419.

Journal

  • 8. Foote, N. N., "The Image of the Consumer in the Year 2000," Proceedings of the Thirty-fifth Annual Boston Conference on Distribution, 1963, 13-18.

  • 9. Graham, R. J., "The Role of Perception of Time in Consumer Research," Journal Consumer Research, 7 (March 1981), 335-342.

of

  • 10. Holbrook, M. B., and D. R. Lehmann, "Allocating Discretionary Time: Complementarity Among Activities," Journal of Consumer Research, 7 (March 1981), 395-406.

  • 11. Kotler, P., Principles of Marketing. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1980.

  • 12. L.

Lee,

C.,

and

R. Ferber, "Use

of Time as a Determinant

of Family Market

Behavior,"

Journal

of Business

Research,

5 (March 1977), 75-91.

 
  • 13. "The

Mauser,

F.

F.,

Future

Challenges

of Marketing,"

Harvard

Business

Review, 41

(November-December 1963), pp. 168-188.

 
  • 14. Murphy, P. E., and W. A. Staples, "A Modernized Family Life Cycle," Journal

of

Consumer

Research,

6, (1979), 12-22.

  • 15. Nickols, S. Y., and K. D. Fox, "Buying Time and Saving Time: Strategies for Managing Household Production," Journal of Consumer Research, 10 (September 1983), 197-208.

  • 16. Ostlund, L. E., "Role Theory and Group Dynamics," in Consumer Behavior: Theoretical Sources, ed. T. S. Robertson, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 230-75.

  • 17. Reilly, M. D., "Working Wives and Convenience Consumption," Journal of Consumer Research, 8 (March 1982), 407-418.

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THE STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF CONVENIENCE

  • 18. Sarbin, T. R., and V. L. Allen, "Role Theory," in The Handbook of Social Psychology, George Lindzey and Elliot Aronson. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1968, 488-567.

  • 19. Schaninger, C. M., and C. T. Allen, "Wife's Occupational Status as a Consumer Behavior Construct," Journal of Consumer Research, 8 (September 1981), 189-196.

  • 20. Strober, M. H. "Should Separate Family Budgets Be Constructed for

Husband-Wife-Earner

(HWE) and Husband-Only-Earner Families at Various Income Levels?" Report prepared for the Bureau of Labor Statistics Expert Panel, Stanford University, Stanford, Cal.: November,

1979.

21.

Strober,

M.

H.,

and

Journal

of Consumer

C. B. Weinberg, "Working Wives and Major Research," 4 (December 1977), 141-47.

Family

Expenditures,"

  • 22. Strober, M. H., and C. B. Weinberg, "Strategies Used by Working and Nonworking Wives to Reduce Time Pressures," Journal

of Consumer

Research,

6 (March 1980), 338-47.

  • 23. Vickery, C., "Women's Economic Contribution to the Family," in The

Subtle

Revolution:

Women

at Work, ed. R. E. Smith. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, 1979, 159-200.

  • 24. Waldman, E., and E. E. Jacobs, "Working Wives and Family Expenditures," in Proceedings of the American Statistical Association Annual Meeting, American Statistical Association, Washington, D.C., pp. 41-49.

  • 25. Yale, L., and Venkatesh, A., "Toward the Construct of Convenience In Consumer Research," Proceedings,

Association for Consumer Research (1985), 403-408.

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