Special Session Summary Harnessing the Power of Interactivity: Implications For Consumer Behavior in Online Environments

Ann Schlosser, Vanderbilt University
[ to cite ]:
Ann Schlosser (2000) ,"Special Session Summary Harnessing the Power of Interactivity: Implications For Consumer Behavior in Online Environments", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, eds. Stephen J. Hoch and Robert J. Meyer, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 79.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, 2000      Page 79

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

HARNESSING THE POWER OF INTERACTIVITY: IMPLICATIONS FOR CONSUMER BEHAVIOR IN ONLINE ENVIRONMENTS

Ann Schlosser, Vanderbilt University

Interactivity is the key distinguishing feature between marketing communications on the Internet and traditional mass media (Hoffman and Novak 1996). Essentially, interactivity puts control in the hands of the consumers. They can decide what to see, when, where, how and in what order. In the papers presented during this session, interactivity is defined as an invitation for the consumer to make choices: choices across different message alternatives (Bezjian-Avery, Calder and Iacobucci 1999; Schlosser and Shavitt 1999); choices between representations of product alternatives (Lynch and Ariely 1999); and choices about how to navigate around the site (Novak, Hoffman and Yung 1999). As with any radical departure from traditional approaches, there is resistance to changeCand interactivity has met such resistance (cf. Alba et al. 1997). Instead of finding ways to seize the benefits of interactivity in the marketplace, many marketers are putting a great deal of effort into developing defensive strategiesCways to maintain control in the electronic marketplace. Yet, such defensive strategies may actually preclude them from attaining the short- and long-term benefits of interactive environments.

To examine this proposition, we present four empirical papers, which test the implications of interactivity on a variety of important consumer behavior variables: persuasion (Bezjian-Avery, Calder and Iacobucci 1999; Schlosser and Shavitt 1999), decision quality (Lynch and Ariely 1999), and engagement with the site (Bezjian-Avery, Calder and Iacobucci 1999; Lynch and Ariely 1999; Novak, Hoffman and Yung 1999). The collective results of these papers provide insight into effective Web site design as well as provde preliminary insight into consumer behavior in online environments.

Overall, it appears that interactivity can have favorable short- and long-term effects on consumer behavior. For instance, one of the unique capabilities of interactivity is involving the consumers in constructing their own ad, which may cause consumers to feel partial ownership of the resulting ad (Schlosser and Shavitt 1999). Consequently, criticism of the chosen ad might elicit their ego defenses. Findings across two studies support this contention: when consumers chose content that was later criticized in a review, their attitudes were more resistant to this negative information than were the attitudes of those who were given the same Internet advertising content.

Another unique capability of interactivity is the ability to automate cross-store comparisons by using electronic shopping systems (Lynch and Ariely 1999). It appears that such systems do not always heighten price sensitivity. In fact, it appears that interactivity, if designed properly, can increase consumer’s enjoyment at the site, satisfaction with the purchased product and intentions to revisit the site.

Interactivity also appears to be one critical factor in attaining flow (Novak, Hoffman and Yung 1999). Flow is the extent to which the consumer becomes absorbed in the site, experiencing playfulness and intrinsic enjoymentCan experience that has multiple positive implications for marketers (Hoffman and Novak 1996).

Interactivity does not have the same positive degree of effects on everyone, however. It appears that consumers who prefer visual information are inhibited more by interactivity than those who prefer verbal information, perhaps because making choices disrupts the flow or concentration in visual people (Bezjian-Avery, Calder and Iacobucci 1999).

In some cases, consumers behave in ways that are consistent with what theory would predict about their offline behavior (Lynch and Ariely 1999; Bezjian-Avery, Calder and Iacobucci 1999). The Internet also introduces new marketing scenarios such as having the consumer play an active role in designing the marketing communication, thereby blurring the lines between source and recipient (Schlosser and Shavitt 1999), and creating sites that invite the consumer to become immersed in an online marketing environment (Novak, Hoffman and Yung 1999). Testing the robustness of existing theories in online environments in addition to introducing new models that address the unique elements of the Internet are valuable approaches to this medium and provide a basis upon which to build further empirical studies and models.

PAPERS PRESENTED

 

"NEW MEDIA INTERACTIVE ADVERTISING VS. TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING"

Alexa Bezjian-Avery, DePaul University

Bobby Calder, Northwestern University

Dawn Iacobucci, Northwestern University

 

"THE EFFECT OF INTERACTIVE ADVERTISING ON ATTITUDE RESISTANCE"

Ann Schlosser, Vanderbilt University

Sharon Shavitt, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 

"INTERACTIVE HOME SHOPPING: EFFECTS OF SEARCH COST FOR PRICE AND QUALITY INFORMATION ON CONSUMER PRICE SENSITIVITY, SATISFACTION WITH MERCHANDISE, AND RETENTION"

John Lynch, Duke University

Dan Ariely, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

"MEASURING THE FLOW CONSTRUCT IN ONLINE ENVIRONMENTS: A STRUCTURAL MODELING APPROACH"

Thomas P. Novak, Vanderbilt University

Donna L. Hoffman, Vanderbilt University

Yiu-Fai Yung, SAS Institute, Inc.

 

REFERENCES

Alba, Joseph, John Lynch, Barton Weitz, Chris Janiszewski, Richard Lutz, Alan Sawyer, and Stacy Wood (1997), "Interactive Home Shopping: Incentives for Consumers, Retailers, and Manufacturers to Participate in Electronic Marketplaces," Journal of Marketing, 61 (July), 38-53.

Hoffman, Donna L. and Thomas P. Novak (1996), "Marketing in Hypermedia Computer-Mediated Environments: Conceptual Foundations," Journal of Marketing, 60 (July), 50-68.

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