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Exploration and its manifestations in the context of online shopping

Demangeot, Catherine and Broderick, Amanda J. (2010) Exploration and its manifestations in the context of online shopping. In: Academy of Marketing Annual Conference, 2010-07-01.

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The characteristics of the internet make exploration a necessity in online shopping contexts - to navigate the website, to identify a suitable range of products and to learn more about products. This paper considers exploration as the trail of actions which consumers take on every page as a result of the competition for attention between their intrinsic goals and the various stimuli present on the page being viewed. An important characteristic of exploration is that it can be the result of either an inner drive or exposure to environmental stimuli. Using a qualitative enquiry, this study investigates how, in the online shopping context, exploration behaviours are manifested, and identifies the interplay of environmental stimuli and inner motivations which facilitate these behaviours. Two forms of exploration emerge, which are similar to Berlyne's (1971) classification. Diversive exploration is are suggestion- and stimuli-driven, and increase the diversity of options. Specific explorations reduce or resolve uncertainty through product information. The study provides a more integrated view of the two forms of exploration than considered so far in the literature. It highlights the need for marketers to attend to competing, yet complementary information needs during the two forms of exploration.