An examination of consumer response to change in online retail environments
Thesis DisciplineBusiness Administration
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The main objective of this study was to determine the consequences of making changes to retail web-sites by examining how consumers respond to change within online retail environments. To achieve this aim, the study drew theoretical guidance from the general Stimulus-Organism-Response (SOR) paradigm. In particular, building upon web-site typology theories, the study proposed that two types of change influenced consumers’ internal responses, prompting behavioural consequences. The two types of change were Task-Relevant and Non-Task-Relevant – representing the two broad components of the retail web-site. A conceptual model was developed outlining the expected effects of change on the emotional (Arousal, Pleasure and Dominance), psychological (Flow), and cognitive (Hedonic and Utilitarian Value) states predicted to precede re-acceptance of the changed retail web-site (Attitude toward Re-patronage and Re-patronage Intention).
To empirically examine this model, an online experiment (using a 2 x 2 between-subjects factorial design) was conducted, in which subjects were exposed to a modified version of a commercial personal banking web-site. A total of 292 responses were collected from Internet users in New Zealand. Simple linear regression, two- and three-stage hierarchical regression, and path analysis were used to analyse the dependence relationships outlined in the conceptual model. The results of the study suggest that both types of change have individual impacts on consumer response moreover, the effects are very different. In particular, Non-Task-Relevant Change appears to carry positive consequences, such as positive emotion, while the effects of Task-Relevant Change appear to carry negative consequences such as negative emotions and reduced value. Furthermore, findings suggest that offsetting the negative influences of change on emotion (particularly pleasure) can aid managers in minimising the negative consequences of change. The complete findings, their implications for the current research, and the provision of directions for future research are discussed in detail.