Overload, Pressure, and Convenience: Testing a Conceptual Model of Factors Influencing Women’S Attitudes Toward, and Use Of, Shopping Channels

ABSTRACT - This study investigates the influence of role overload, feelings of time pressure, the importance of convenience, and shopping enjoyment on women’s attitudes toward and use of traditional and nontraditional shopping channels (specifically, retail store and catalog vs. television and computer shopping). A series of propositions are developed and tested and used to create and test a structural equations model. Results indicate that these factors may be useful in understanding traditional channels, while other variables may be more influential in the use of nontraditional channels.


Jill K. Maher, Lawrence J. Marks, and Pamela E. Grimm (1997) ,"Overload, Pressure, and Convenience: Testing a Conceptual Model of Factors Influencing Women’S Attitudes Toward, and Use Of, Shopping Channels", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 24, eds. Merrie Brucks and Deborah J. MacInnis, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 490-498.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 24, 1997      Pages 490-498


Jill K. Maher, Kent State University

Lawrence J. Marks, Kent State University

Pamela E. Grimm, Kent State University


This study investigates the influence of role overload, feelings of time pressure, the importance of convenience, and shopping enjoyment on women’s attitudes toward and use of traditional and nontraditional shopping channels (specifically, retail store and catalog vs. television and computer shopping). A series of propositions are developed and tested and used to create and test a structural equations model. Results indicate that these factors may be useful in understanding traditional channels, while other variables may be more influential in the use of nontraditional channels.


Prior research has examined factors that influence women’s selection of and attitudes toward shopping channels (e.g., Gillett 1976; Bellizzi and Hite 1986; Blakney and Sekely 1994). These studies have analyzed the effects of numerous influences on channel selection, ranging from working status to hopping enjoyment. However, because these studies typically have investigated a very limited set of factors, indeed often only a single factor, they do not present a very complete conceptual picture of the total relationships involved in channel selection. In addition, alternative shopping channels have increased as the demographics of our society have changed. These societal changes include an increased number of working women and increased desire for simplicity and convenience in shopping. Existing studies have rarely considered these new shopping channel alternatives (for an exception, see Blakney and Sekely 1994).

The purposes of this study are to develop and test propositions relating to several important influences which may affect women’s attitudes toward both traditional and nontraditional shopping channels, and to develop and test a causal model of these relationships, which has not been attempted before. In the context of the current study, traditional shopping channels are defined as in-store retail shopping and catalog shopping while nontraditional channels are represented by television home shopping and on-line computer shopping. This categorization is based solely on the length of time that each of these shopping channels has been available to the consumer in the marketplace. The choice of channels is important because past research has examined retail, catalog, direct mail, and telephone shopping (Cox and Rich 1964; Reynolds 1974), but has not thoroughly examined television or computer shopping, retail channels which simply did not exist in the 60’s and early 70’s. This study contributes to the understanding of women’s selection of shopping channels by updating the literature to include the newest shopping channels (e.g., on-line computer shopping) and examining women’s attitudes toward each channel at the individual channel level.

This paper begins with a review of previous studies conducted in this area, followed by the methodology used in this study, the results, and a discussion of the significance of these results. The final section presents suggestions for future research on channel choice.


Women’s shopping channel choices are of more interest than men because statistics show that when examining the household tasks of men and women, women shop approximately 3.6 hours per week compared to 1.4 hours for men (Statistical Handbook on the American Family 1992). Therefore, by studying women, we are able to assess the channel selection of the "shopper" in most families. Theoretically, the antecedent variables being examined in this study (i.e., role overload, time pressure, and convenience) are most applicable to women as the majority of role overload studies (for example see Reilly1982; Gray 1983; and Stephens et. al. 1994) have examined women as their defined population. Additionally, convenience and time pressure studies such as Reilly (1982) and Strober and Weinberg (1980) have concentrated on women.

Of the many influences on women’s shopping channel selection, Role Overload, Time Pressure, Importance of Convenience, and Shopping Enjoyment seem to be especially important for today’s working wife and mother. Therefore, these factors, discussed below, are the focus of the current investigation.

Role Overload and Time Pressure

While several studies suggest that women employed outside the home receive higher satisfaction in life because of their participation in the work force (Ferree 1984; Hall and Gordon 1973), other research has demonstrated that work force participation increases susceptibility to Role Overload and time stress (Gray 1983). Working women today are often pressured because they are trying to manage time in their multiple roles. Reilly (1982) discusses Role Overload as conflict that occurs when the amount ofbehavior demanded by the roles in which one is engaged exceeds available time and energy. Such conflict is experienced by many working women who maintain the roles of wife and mother because these roles, along with their household responsibilities, add to the portion of time they actually spend "working" (Berry 1979). In addition, qualitative assessments of time diaries kept by women found that the responsibility for the household and the family was more than simply time spent on household chores. This responsibility includes such qualitative activities as thinking, planning, nurturance, and emotional care of family members (Shaw 1991).

From this information, it seems reasonable that the working woman is constrained by the time involved in her roles as wife, mother, employee and housekeeper. This constraint forces the working woman to allocate time between her various roles and for herself. For instance, if 80% of a woman’s time is spent at work or conducting work activities, she must reduce the amount of time with her children, her spouse, and in keeping house, as well as time spent on herself.

Reilly (1982) found that the degree of women’s Role Overload influences their consumption of convenience goods and services. From this finding, it is expected that role overloaded women will place greater importance on convenience in shopping channel selection. The above discussion suggests the following propositions:

P1: The degree of Role Overload is positively related to feelings of Time Pressure.

P2: The degree of Role Overload is positively related to Importance of Convenience in shopping channel selection.

Time Pressure and Importance of Convenience

Women, who have traditionally been the shoppers for the family and household, are presented with new shopping channel choices in the mid 1990s. One important reason for the development of nonstore retail shopping channels is women’s desires to simplify their hectic lifestyles. The combination of labor force participation and household responsibilities has contributed to the increased consumption of convenience goods and services, as well as to women’s decreased amount of participation in leisure activities (Lavin 1993b; Witt and Goodale 1981). Clearly, a woman’s leisure time is severely constrained by her commitments to both family and work. Therefore, today’s working wife and mother may have intensified feelings of time pressure.

In the past, retail shopping, one traditional shopping channel, was a means for housewives to socialize and interact with the outside world. However, with the increased number of housewives seeking additional employment outside the home, the number of hours available for shopping has decreased. These women have found that their workforce participation provides them with the opportunity to socialize during working hours, therefore they often see shopping as a chore and merely time spent away from home. This feeling stems from the fact that, given their increased involvement in work outside the home, women are now more aware and conscious of the cost of time associated with shopping. Costs such as travel time, parking, purchase time, and interstore travel time (Jacoby, Szybillo, and Berning 1976) may have been less important issues to housewives in the past, but they now affect working women’s desire to shop because of the time pressure created by the demands of family and work. Hawes, Gronmo, and Arndt (1977) found that the hours spent shopping per week among American women decreased when the women were employed full-time, as well as when their household size was greater than five. From this information, it seems reasonable that working wives, especially those with yong children, would feel time pressure. This feeling may drive them to seek convenience in their choice of shopping channel. This is consistent with a study that found nonstore retailing to attract individuals who possess a strong convenience orientation (Eastlick 1994). More specifically, Cox (1964) found telephone shoppers were more often women who had a great need for convenience in their shopping. His study also found that women under the age of 40, who had children living in their home, were three times more likely to utilize telephone shopping than women under the age of 40 without children.

Some studies have not found support for these relationships (Reynolds 1974; Bellizzi and Hite 1986; Lavin 1993b). The limitation of these studies is their focus on single explanatory factors (e.g., Time Pressure, Role Overload, etc.). In taking such a narrow perspective, it seems possible that several important factors have been overlooked. For the purposes of guiding the current study, the following propositions are made:

P3: Women’s perceived Time Pressure is positively related to the Importance of Convenience in shopping channel.

P4: Importance of Convenience is positively related to Attitude toward nontraditional shopping channels and negatively related to Attitude toward traditional retail channels.

Shopping Enjoyment

Because Lavin (1993a) found Time Pressure affected the enjoyment women experience from traditional shopping channels, an examination of the effect of Time Pressure and Shopping Enjoyment on nontraditional channels will be included in this study. Bellenger and Korgaonkar (1980) describe the concept of the recreational shopper as one who enjoys shopping as a leisure activity. In their study, 69% of the adult respondents surveyed enjoyed shopping as a leisure time activity and an overwhelming percentage of these leisure shoppers were women (i.e., 80%). It seems reasonable to believe that women who enjoy shopping will have a greater propensity to utilize a traditional retail channel in order to experience some form of shopping gratification. This belief was confirmed in a recent study conducted by Blakney and Sekely (1994). These researchers examined the level of Shopping Enjoyment experienced by four different segments of shoppers. One of these segments was in-home shoppers who prefer nontraditional shopping modes (i.e., telephone, mail, computer). These in-home shoppers were found to enjoy traditional retail shopping the least. The above discussion suggests the following propositions:

P5: Feelings of Time Pressure are negatively related to Shopping Enjoyment.

P6: Shopping Enjoyment is negatively related to the Attitude toward nontraditional shopping channels and positively related to Attitude toward traditional channels.

Attitude-Behavior Relationship

While a great deal of research has investigated the consistency between attitude and behavior in a variety of contexts, this relationship has seldom been investigated in the context of shopping channel selection. For simplicity in the current study, it was assumed that women’s attitudes about shopping channels would be accessible and there would be strong consistency between her attitude and her use of that channel (for attitude-behavior consistency see, Fazio, Powell, and Williams 1989). The above discussion suggests the following proposition:

P7: Attitude toward the channel is positively related to channel use.

A Structural Model of the Relationsips

Based on the relationships implied in the propositions, a structural equations model was created. As seen in Figure 1, consistent with the propositions, it was assumed that Role Overload would have a positive influence on Feelings of Time Pressure and Importance of Convenience. Additionally, it was hypothesized that Time Pressure would directly influence Importance of Convenience and negatively influence Shopping Enjoyment. Finally, the model indicates that Attitude Toward the Channel would be directly influenced by Shopping Enjoyment and Importance of Convenience, and that this attitude would directly influence Use of Channel.



A survey questionnaire was developed and used to test the proposed relationships. Students from a mid western university’s "Principles of Marketing " class were used as administrators. These students received extra credit in the class for administering the questionnaire to working adults with children. Thus, the study utilizes a convenience sample.


Unless otherwise stated, all items were measured as five-point Likert-type scales, with responses labeled as, "strongly disagree," "disagree," "neutral," "agree," and "strongly agree." In some cases (noted below) this represented a change from six-point scales. Because the questionnaire was rather lengthy and complex, this was deemed necessary to reduce respondent confusion by having consistency across response measures.



Role Overload scale: Role Overload was measured by Reilly’s (1982) Role Overload scale. This scale is a 13-item scale that measures the pressure that a woman experiences due to the roles she plays. In the present study, Role Overload has a reliability of .87 which is comparable to the reliability of .88 reported by Reilly (1982).

Time pressure scale: The time pressure scale used for this study was developed by Lumpkin (1985) as a six-item, six-point scale (reported reliability of .69) that measures a person’s lack of free time for him/herself in a given day. In the present study, a five-point scale was used which produced a stronger reliability coefficient of .84.

Importance of Convenience scale: Lumpkin and Hunt (1989) developed a six-item scale, with a reported reliability of .62, that measures the convenience of traveling to and ordering from a retail store. Although the present study produced a higher reliability of .75, this scale was not selected for use in the model, because it measures convenience of shopping in a very specific context, that is, the importance of convenience when shopping at a retail outlet. With this in mind, a second measure of the importance of convenience was created for the study. This single item, face valid measure asked respondents for their level of agreement with the statement, "When it comes to shopping, convenience is the most important thing to me."

Shopping Enjoyment scale: The shopping enjoyment scale was developed by O’Guinn and Faber (1989). This three-item scale has a reported reliability of .89 that measures the enjoyment that a consumer experiences from shopping. To assure that all respondents in the current study were thinking of the same type of shopping experience, they were instructed to consider "shopping in general," for products such as clothes, household items, gifts, and accessories, regardless of shopping channel. In the current study, a comparable reliability of .86 was produced.

Attitude toward shopping channel: Attitude toward each shopping channel was a global measurement using three common five-point semantic diffeential scales reported in Bruner and Hensel (1992). These items were bad/good, dislike very much/like very much, and undesirable/desirable. Respondents were asked to rate each channel alternative when shopping for clothes for themselves. In the current study, reliabilities for attitude toward each channel were adequate, including retail outlet (Att Retail; alpha=.90), catalog (Att Catalog; alpha=.95), television (Att TV; alph=.95), and computer (Att Computer; alpha=.97).

Channel Use: In measuring actual channel use, respondents were asked to rate their use of each shopping channel (Retail Use, Catalog Use, TV Use, Computer Use) from 1 to 5 (1=never, 5=always) when shopping for clothes for themselves.


The Sample

The survey yielded 226 valid questionnaires. Thirty percent of the respondents were male and 70% female. The focus of this study is on the 155 female respondents with children living at home. Over half of these 155 women were 36 years of age or older, 59% worked full-time outside the home and 35% worked part-time, with over 50% working 40 or more hours per week outside the home. Seventy one percent of the women had two or more children and 53% had one or more children under the age of 6. Seventy-three percent were married, 15% were separated or divorced, and 11% reported themselves as single (with children living at home ). Based on the assumptions of the study, this group of predominantly working, married women with children should include many who have strong feelings of role overload and who feel under substantial time pressure.

The Measurement Model

Table 1 presents the mean scores and standard deviations for the measures and for revised measures which were developed after testing the initial measurement model. PRELIS was used to create a covariance input matrix for LISREL 7, which was used to test the measurement properties of the scales via confirmatory factor analysis. The items for each scale were run in individual analyses.



The various fit indices indicated the measurement models provided a relatively poor fit to the data for Role Overload and Time Pressure. The scales were improved by examining the squared multiple correlations for each item and dropping those with the poorest fit. Through an iterative process, items were eliminated until the fit measures were deemed acceptable. In order to conserve space, only the measurement model based on the revised scales are reported in Table 2. Descriptive statistics for the two new scales are reported at the bottom of Table 1.

The Structural Equations Model

To simplify the analysis, the structural equations models were tested by creating a series of single-item indicators for each construct, using the mean of the construct, and setting the error equal to 1-alpha times the variance (see Table 1). The error term for the concepts which had only a single item measure (i.e., Importance of Convenience and the Channel Use measures) were set at .86 by taking an average of the alpha for several of the other measures. As before, PRELIS was used to create covariance matrices for input into LISREL 7.

Examination of the path parameters and t-values (Table 3) provides strong support for P1, P5, and P7 across all shopping channels. P6 received only partial support in that Shopping Enjoyment (S.E.) was positively and significantly related to Attitude for the traditional shopping channels (Retail and Catalog), however it was not significantly related to Attitude for the non-traditional channels. None of the propositions that involved Importance of Convenience were supported (i.e., there was not suppor for P2, P3, or P4).

When considering the proposed model as a whole, the Chi Square and goodness of fit measures provided mixed results for the different channels (see Table 3). The best fit was for the Retail (C2=12.8, df=8, p=.144) and Catalog (C2=15.39, df=8, p=.052) channels and the poorest fit was for the Television and Computer shopping channels. Given the preliminary nature of the proposed model, the results were examined to determine appropriate alternative models which could be theoretical justified.

This analysis suggested two plausible alternative models. Alternative Model One is based on the modification indices provided from the LISREL run. In this model, Importance of Convenience is made an exogenous variable influencing Shopping Enjoyment (see Figure 2). For the second alternative model, Importance of Convenience was dropped entirely, because none of the a prior causal paths involving the construct were found to be significant in the initial analyses (see Figure 3 ).

As can be seen from the fit values in Table 4, Alternative Model One provides a satisfactory fit for retail, catalog, and computer shopping, and a "marginal" fit for television shopping. The coefficient of determination for the structural equations shows an improvement over that seen for the proposed model (from around 17% to around 24%). However, the t-values do not show support for the path from Shopping Enjoyment to Attitude Toward the Channel for either Television Shopping or Computer Shopping (all other path t-values are significant).

Table 5 presents the standardized path coefficients for Alternative Model Two. While the results are the same as for Model One in terms of goodness of fit measures (support for all but Television) and t-values the coefficient of determination for the structural equations shows no improvement over the proposed model and is weaker than for Alternative Model One.


This study has brought together a variety of constructs thought to be important in women’s choice of shopping channel and examined them in the context of traditional and nontraditional channels. The results indicate support for several propositions suggested by the literature. Additionally, a structural equations model was proposed, tested, and a modified model received support for the "more traditional" shopping channels (i.e., retail and catalog as opposed to television and computer shopping).



It is interesting to contemplate the failure of the proposed model to find a significant linkage between the Importance of Convenience in shopping and either Role Overload or Feelings of Time Pressure. It may be that Importance of Shopping Convenience is more strongly influenced by an individual trait variable (e.g., a personal trait) than it is by the measures considered in this study. Alternatively, despite the strong face validity of the measure used (i.e., "When it comes to shopping, convenience is the most important thing to me."), it may be that this single item does not capture the underlying construct adequately.

On the positive side, there is strong support in Alternative Model One for one of the originally proposed paths for Retail and Catalog Shopping. Specifically, and as predicted, for retail and catalog shopping, there are significant relationships along the path linking Role Overload and Time Pressure (positive), Time Pressure and Shopping Enjoyment (negative), Shopping Enjoyment and Attitude toward the Channel (positive), and Attitude and Channel Use (positive). Additionally, though not expected, a significant negative relationship between Importance of Convenience and Shopping Enjoyment is plausible. Likewise, it is quite reasonable that the influence of Importance of Convenience on Attitude may be very strongly mediated by Shopping Enjoyment. Clearly, these relationships must be carefully examined in future studies.











Alternative Model One provided a good fit in capturing the relationships for retail and catalog shopping, but not for either television (non-significant t-value) or computer shopping (poor fit and non-significant t-value). It seems likely that other variables, unmeasured in the current study, account for women’s selection of these two nontraditional shopping channels. Selection of computer shopping may well be related to innovativeness or a person’s degree of knowledge about computers. That is, regardless of how much one enjoys traditional shopping, people who like to experiment with computers may be the ones who use computer shopping. On the other hand, the use of television shopping may be less related to Role Overload and Time Pressure than to issues related to whether the person perceives this channel as offering low product quality and low status. Future research into the selection of these channels should include measures of such factors. The notion that different factors may determine the evaluation and selection of nontraditional shopping channels is of critical importance in both the modeling of these relationships and to marketers who are interested in influencing people to select a particular channel.

While this study provides some interesting insights into the factors influencing women’s attitudes toward and use of traditional and nontraditional shopping channels, there are several limitations which must be acknowledged. First, a convenience sample of women living near a large mid western city were used. Clearly, these women may not be representative of the entire population. Second, the questionnaire had respondents think about "shopping in general," however, it may be that the respondents actually brought to mind retail shopping. Thus, it may be better for future studies to create separate questionnaires for each of the channels being investigated. Third, as mentioned, there are limitations in using the existing data to formulate changes in the structural equations model. Alternative Model One must be tested with another group of people to determine whether the results are robust. Finally, this study provides limited insight into the factors which do influence attitudes toward and use of nontraditional shopping channels. This is an area which may prove interesting for future research.


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Jill K. Maher, Kent State University
Lawrence J. Marks, Kent State University
Pamela E. Grimm, Kent State University


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 24 | 1997

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