The Influence of Flow on Hedonic and Utilitarian Shopping Values

Sylvain Senecal, HEC Canada
Jamel-Edine Gharbi, ESSEC Tunis
Jacques Nantel, HEC Canada
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - The objective of this study is to examine if the flow construct influences the hedonic and the utilitarian values of consumers’ online shopping experiences. The flow construct has been proposed to measure consumers’ online experiences (Hoffman and Novak, 1996). Novak, Hoffman and Yung (2000) argue that Aonline shopping and task-oriented activities involving products search do not yet offer the requisite levels of challenge and arousal, nor do they induce the sense of telepresence and time distortion necessary to create a truly compelling online customer experience@. So far, the flow construct has been applied to Internet navigation in general. In this study, we examine in an online goal-oriented shopping task how the flow influences consumers’ hedonic and utilitarian online shopping experience evaluations.
[ to cite ]:
Sylvain Senecal, Jamel-Edine Gharbi, and Jacques Nantel (2002) ,"The Influence of Flow on Hedonic and Utilitarian Shopping Values", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, eds. Susan M. Broniarczyk and Kent Nakamoto, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 483-484.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, 2002     Pages 483-484

THE INFLUENCE OF FLOW ON HEDONIC AND UTILITARIAN SHOPPING VALUES

Sylvain Senecal, HEC Canada

Jamel-Edine Gharbi, ESSEC Tunis

Jacques Nantel, HEC Canada

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

The objective of this study is to examine if the flow construct influences the hedonic and the utilitarian values of consumers’ online shopping experiences. The flow construct has been proposed to measure consumers’ online experiences (Hoffman and Novak, 1996). Novak, Hoffman and Yung (2000) argue that "online shopping and task-oriented activities involving products search do not yet offer the requisite levels of challenge and arousal, nor do they induce the sense of telepresence and time distortion necessary to create a truly compelling online customer experience". So far, the flow construct has been applied to Internet navigation in general. In this study, we examine in an online goal-oriented shopping task how the flow influences consumers’ hedonic and utilitarian online shopping experience evaluations.

Introduced by Csikszentmihalyi (1975), the state of flow is defined as "as the state in which people are so intensely involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter, the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at a great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). It is suggested that the flow construct is comprised of the following four dimensions: concentration, control, challenge, and enjoyment dimensions (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; Ghani and Desphande, 1994; Webster, Trevino and Ryan, 1993). As for the shopping experience, Tauber (1972) and Holbrook and Hirschman (1982) were among the firsts to suggest that consumers’ shopping motivations were not essentially instrumental such as purchasing a specific product but that they could also be related to affective goals. More recently, Babin, Darden and Griffin (1994) suggested that consumers’ evaluation of a shopping experience could be assessed on two important dimensions: hedonic and utilitarian values. Studies of flea markets (Sherry, 1990a, 1990b) and of Christmas gift shopping (Fischer and Arnold, 1990) suggest that consumers can evaluate shopping experiences as having both utilitarian and hedonic values. Even though the hedonic and the utilitarian shopping values are different, they are complementary. Thus, we suggest that online shopping experiences need to incorporate both shopping values in order to become truly compelling shopping experiences.

Based on this literature review, five hypotheses are formulated. First, we suggest that the enjoyment dimension of the flow is positively related to th hedonic value of consumers’ online shopping experience. The second hypothesis posits that the concentration dimension of the flow construct positively influence both hedonic and utilitarian shopping values. Third, we propose that the control dimension of the flow positively influence the utilitarian shopping value. The fourth hypothesis suggests that the challenge dimension negatively influence the utilitarian value of consumers’ online shopping experience. Finally, we suggest that the variance explained by the flow construct will be greater for the hedonic shopping value than for the utilitarian shopping value.

A laboratory experiment was conducted to test the above hypotheses. A hundred-and-five undergraduates from a major Eastern Canadian University were asked to shop online for a CD player. After their Internet shopping experience, subjects were asked to complete a paper-pencil questionnaire in order to assess their level of flow during the shopping experience and their rating of hedonic and utilitarian shopping values of their online experience.

The flow was measured with an adapted version of the measurement scale proposed by Ghani and Desphande (1994). The internal consistency results for the concentration (a = 0.918), the control (a = 0.744), the challenge (a = 0.839), and the enjoyment (a = 0.821) dimensions were generally satisfactory. To measure the dependent variable, an adaptation of Babin, Darden and Griffin’s (1994) hedonic and utilitarian shopping values measurement scale was used. The internal consistency is satisfactory for the hedonic dimension (a = 0.858) and acceptable for the utilitarian dimension (a = 0.703). Furthermore, exploratory factor analyses for both measurement scales supported their dimensionality. Following Hair et al. (1998), the scores of each subject on the four factors of the flow and on the two factors of the shopping value scales were used in multiple regressions. One multiple regression was performed to explain the influence of flow dimensions on the hedonic shopping value and a second multiple regression was conducted to asses the influence of flow dimensions on the utilitarian shopping value.

Results show that enjoyment, concentration, and challenge dimensions of the flow positively influence the hedonic shopping value (Std. b = 0.539, t = 7.053, p = 0.000; Std. b = 0.255, t = 3.334, p = 0.001; Std. b = 0.270, t = 3.477, p = 0.001; respectively). Overall, all flow dimensions significantly contribute to explain 42.5% (F = 19.267, p = 0.000) of the hedonic shopping value variance. As for the utilitarian shopping value, results provide evidence that none of the flow dimensions positively influences the utilitarian shopping value (Adj. R2 = 0.017, F = 1.424, p = 0.232).

Results clearly indicate that the flow construct positively influences the hedonic value of consumers’ online shopping experiences but does not influence their utilitarian value. In order to provide consumers with a truly compelling online shopping experience, online merchants have to not only provide "flow opportunities" that only enhance the hedonic shopping value, as supported by our results, but also provide other tools and opportunities that will enhance the utilitarian shopping value (e.g. one-click-buy, intuitive search engines, etc). In sum, increasing websites’ features that are related to the flow dimensions may not be an optimal marketing decision if consumers cannot at the same time use utilitarian features that will help them fulfil their consumption needs, which is the main objective of most online merchants.

Finally, although our overall results strongly suggest that the flow only influences the hedonic value of consumers’ online shopping experience, additional studies need to be performed. Assessing consumers’ online experience in a more natural setting and using different samples and product categories would increase the external validity of the present findings.

REFERENCES

Babin, Barry J., Darden, William R., Griffin, Mitch (1994), "Work and/or Fun: Measuring Hedonic and Utilitarian Shopping Values", Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 20, March, pp. 644-656.

Batra, Rajeev and Athola, Olli T. (1991), "Measuring the Hedonic and Utilitarian Sources of Consumer Attitudes", Marketing Letters, Vol. 2, April, pp. 159-170.

Bloch, Peter H.; Richins, Marsha L. (1983), "Shopping Without Purchase: An Investigation of Consumer Browsing Behavior", Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 10, pp. 389-393.

Bloch, Peter H.; Sherrell, Daniel L. and Ridgway, Nancy M. (1986), "Consumer Search: An Extended Framework", Journal of Consumer Behavior, Vol.13, June, pp. 119-126.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1975), Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1990), Flow: The psychology of optimal experience, New-York: Harper & Row.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1997), "Finding Flow", Psychology Today, August, pp. 46-71.

Engel, James F.; Blackwell, Roger D.; Miniard, Paul W. (1993), Consumer Behavior, Chicago: Dryden.

Fischer, Eileen; Arnold, Stephen J. (1990), "More than a Labor of Love: Gender Roles and Christmas Gift Shopping", Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 17, December, pp. 333-345.

Ghani, Jawaid A. (1991), "Flow in Human-Computer Interactions: Test of a model," in Carey, J., (Ed.), Human Factors in Management Information Systems: An Organizational Perspective, Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Ghani, Jawaid A. and Desphande, Satish P. (1994), "Task Characteristics and the Experience of Optimal Flow in Human-Computer Interaction", The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 128, No. 4, pp. 381-391.

Ghani, Jawaid A.; Supnick, Roberta and Rooney, Pamela (1991), "The Experience of Flow in Computer-Mediated and Face-to Face Groups", in J.I. DeGross, I. Benbasat, G. DeSantis and C.M. Beath (Eds.), Proceeding of the 12th International Conference on Information Systems, pp. 229-237, New-York: ICIS.

Hair, Joseph F. Jr.; Anderson, Rolph E.; Tatham, Ronald L. and Black, William C. (1998), Multivariate Data Analysis, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Hirschman, Elizabeth C. (1983), "Predictory of Self-projection, Fantasy Fulfillment, and Escapism" Journal of Social Psychology, No. 120, June, pp. 63-76.

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

Holbrook, Morris B.; Hirschman, Elizabeth C. (1982), "The Experiential Aspects of Consumption: Consumer Fantasies, Feeling, and Fun", Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 9, September, pp. 132-140.

Katz, J.A. (1987), "Playing at innovation in the computer revolution", in M. Frese, E. Ulrich and W. Dzida (Eds.), Psychological Issues of Human-computer Interaction in the Workplace, Amsterdam: North-Holland.

Maehr, M.L. (1989), "Thought About Motivation", in C. Ames and R. Ames (Eds.), Research on Motivation in Education: Goals and Cognition, Vol. , pp. 299-315, San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Malone, Thomas W. (1981), "Toward a Theory of Intrinsically Motivated Instruction", Cognitive Science, Vol. 4, pp. 333-369.

Malone, Thomas W. and Lepper, Mark R. (1987), "Making Learning Fun: A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning", in R.E. Snow and M.J. Farr (Eds.), Aptitude, Learning and Instruction, Hillsdale, NJ: Ebraum, pp. 223-253.

Mano, Haim and Oliver, Richard L. (1993), "Assessing the Dimensionality and Structure of the Consumption Experience: Evaluation, Feeling, and Satisfaction", Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 20, December, pp. 451-466.

Novak, Thomas P.; Hoffman, Donna L. and Yung, Yiu-Fai (2000), "Measuring the Customer Experience in Online Environments: A Structural Modeling Approach", Marketing Science, Vol. 19, No. 1, Winter, pp. 22-42.

Payne, John W., Bettman, James R. et Johnson Eric J. (1993), The Adaptive Decision Maker , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New-York.

Sandelands, Lance E. and Georgette C. Buckner (1989), "Of Art and Work: Aesthetic Experience and the Psychology of Work Feelings," in Cummings, L.L. and B.M. Shaw (Eds.), Research in Organizational Behavior, 105-131, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Sherry, John F. (1990a), "Dealers and dealing in a periodic market: information retailing in ethnographic perspective", Journal of Retailing, Vol. 66, pp. 174-200.

Sherry, John F. (1990b), "A Sociocultural Analysis of a Midwestern Flea Market", Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 17, No. 1, June, pp. 13-30.

Tauber, Edward M. (1972), "Why do people shop?", Journal of Marketing, Vol. 36, October, pp. 46-49.

Webster, E.J. (1989), Playfulness and computers at work, Doctoral Dissertation, Stern School of Business, New-York University.

Webster, Jane; Trevino, Linda and Ryan, Lisa (1993), "The Dimensionality and Correlates of Flow in Human Computer Interactions", Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 9 , No. 4, pp. 411-426.

Weiner, B. (1990), "History of Motivational in Education", Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 82, pp. 616-622.

----------------------------------------