worl-marketing-congressThe paper of Sophie Morin-Delerm and Marie-Catherine Paquier, “The Distribution of Monastic Products: The Online Merchant Space, a Potential to Extend Physical Place Attachment” was accepted and presented  under the Aspects of the Online Retail Experience track at the 2016 Academy of Marketing Science World Marketing Congress held July 19-23 in Paris, France.
French monasteries and abbeys played a religious, cultural, political and economic role throughout the Middle Ages (Le Goff, 1994). Today, their local, spiritual and architectural secular anchorage has made of them a major factor of national heritage (Heinich, 2009). The contemplative monastic orders integrate work into their life of prayer (Nursie de, 6th century) and their tie with the contemporary world through trade is most real. Nowadays, so as to survive autonomously, monasteries produce and sell today’s consumer products through innovative multi-channel distribution. Offline and online channels coexist, embodied by a variety of religious and secular points of sale. This research concerns the distribution of monastic products on the Internet, and seeks to discover whether the virtual channel conveys to cyber-purchasers the heritage power of a physical monastic place. To answer this question, we focused our study on the purchasing experience felt by those using the virtual marketplace Les Boutiques de Théophile, managed by a cooperative of fourteen abbeys. We will first present the contemporary monasteries’ economic activity and the characteristics of today’s monastic consumer products. We will then anchor the research in the works linking marketing and place, and will describe the qualitative methodology employed when interviewing cyber-purchasers. We will demonstrate that the results reveal the potential that the Internet has to extend the physical place attachment for people who already know the monastic heritage place. A segmented usage of this channel will be recommended.