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Exploring the experiential intensity of online shopping environments

Demangeot, Catherine and Broderick, Amanda J. (2006) Exploring the experiential intensity of online shopping environments. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 9 (4). pp. 325-351. ISSN 1352-2752

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Abstract

Purpose: Experience matters to both shoppers and marketers. It can be the aim of a shopping navigation; the cues of the environment also create an experience. Whilst much is known about how experiences are staged offline, the characteristics of the online medium necessitate a re-examination of the phenomenon online. Constructs such as vividness and interactivity may be relevant. However, when consumers go online to shop - with a clear intention to purchase or with broader information search or browsing aims - they have specific motivations and expectations; therefore these constructs must be considered within specific shopping contexts. This paper explores consumer perceptions of the dimensions of experiential intensity of retail websites. Findings: Combining think-alouds with in-depth interviews, we found four dimensions of experiential intensity (context familiarity, product presence, visual impact and site-user understanding), and related them to four perceptions of a shopping navigation, as: an experience, a tool, an environment, and a dialogue between shopper and website. Originality/value: This conceptualisation adds to the literature on experience creation, which is critical in delivering consumer value. It is more specific and extensive than extant typologies, clarifies the construct and increases its explanatory power. Think-alouds and depth interviews are shown to yield valuable insights. Consumer perceptions reflect the expectations they have of shopping environments. When shopping online, consumers think like shoppers, not computer users. They want to feel in a familiar shopping context. They want to examine products closely and seek the sense of personal relationship and involvement induced by site-user understanding. Marketers need to harness technological developments to respond to these expectations. Practically, the study provides e-retailers with a framework to assess the current levels of experiential intensity, or initiate the creation of more intense experiences.