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Unsolicited Commercial E-mails: A study of the consumer’s perceptions about unsolicited commercial e-mails and the implications it has for Internet user groups
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
2010 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The rapid development of Internet technologies has led to the emergence of new communication means. E-mail has become a new powerful tool used by millions with the main purpose of exchanging information. Considering its large scope, marketers have been using the e-mail as an important direct marketing force and it has become a popular choice for many companies. The e-mail has therefore constituted a new form of on-line marketing coined “E-mail marketing”. However, the increasing use of the e-mail marketing has been adversely affected by the appearance of non-traditional marketing communication media such as unsolicited commercial e-mails (UCEs). The main reasons behind the alarming growth of the UCEs are those explained by the low-cost structure of the e-mail and, thus, a small number of responses are required for generating a profit (Moustakas et al., 2006; p.45; Shenoy, 2008; p.32). This unsolicited medium used for reaching consumers has evolved from mere nuisance to actual threat (Mendleson, 2010; p.38), which has brought a new complexity into consumers’ daily lives. This in its turn calls for examination of consumer’s perception about the unsolicited commercial e-mails.


Hence, the aim of this thesis is to examine consumer’s perceptions about the mentioned unsolicited marketing communication medium. This will provide increased awareness of the profound implications that the UCEs have on e-commerce and the e-mail marketing on the whole and, particularly, on Internet user groups such as companies, e-mail service providers and policy makers. The study was conducted with a positivistic position and followed a deductive approach, taking known theories as point of departure. The theories presented are mainly concerned with: privacy, ethical and legislation issues; consumer’s reactions and motives behind the opening of the e-mail; the impact of the UCEs on the brand image and overall implications of the UCEs.


A self-completion questionnaire was used as method of data collection. The results indicate that the UCEs are perceived as slightly unethical and neither intrusive nor nonintrusive by the respondents. There is also no clear perceived protection by the anti-spam law, which claims the need for improvement of the policy makers’ work. The results also reveal that the most common consumer’s reaction is to disregard and delete the UCEs, although a small but considerable percentage of the consumers respond. The findings show that the different contents of the UCEs are perceived with low levels of interest by the respondents. Also, the motives behind the opening of the UCEs by the respondents are distributed nearly equal: the credibility of the sender, simply the curiosity and the attractiveness of the subject line. This study reveals a fairly negative perceived image of the companies advertised by the UCEs, which proves the associated cost of sending the UCEs. Furthermore, it has been found that the respondents are concerned about sharing their e-mail addresses with e-companies because of the UCEs and that the latter hinder the accessibility to solicited commercial e-mails in the e-mail inboxes. The e-mail service providers have been also affected since a quarter of the respondents have changed them as a consequence of receiving the UCEs. Thus, the results of this thesis show the adverse implications of the UCEs on electronic commerce, e-mail marketing and on Internet user groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 69 p.
Keyword [en]
unsolicited commercial e-mail, consumer´s perceptions, implications of UCEs, e-mail marketing, spam
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-35032OAI: diva2:328363
2010-06-08, S208, Social Science Building, Umeå University, 13:00 (English)
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2010-07-02 Created: 2010-07-02 Last updated: 2010-07-02Bibliographically approved

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