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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. Journal of Marketing Management, 26 (13-14). 1256 - 1278.

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Although the concept of exploration has received much attention in several disciplines because of its enjoyable qualities and its conduciveness to learning, it has been given less importance by marketing scholars than more volitional and effortful forms of information search. Concurrently, the internet medium characteristics and websites' capacity to store vast amounts of pages, products and information, increase the role and occurrences of exploration during online shopping. Hence, a re-conceptualisation of exploration in online shopping contexts is timely, important and necessary. This article (1) draws from multi-disciplinary literature to develop a new conceptualisation of exploration as an activity inherent to online shopping contexts, (2) further characterises specific and diversive exploration through a qualitative enquiry which explores the interplay of environmental stimuli and shopping motives facilitating each form of exploration, and (3) presents an agenda for further research on the construct. By expanding the conceptualisation of exploration in line with other literatures to encompass both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, this paper brings together aspects of information search and atmospherics literature by situating online information search within an environment replete with stimuli. The concepts of diversive and specific exploration provide an integrated and parsimonious theoretical explanation of the manner in which consumers shop online and the study reveals that both forms of exploration result in important, yet distinct, types of learning, which have so far not been fully acknowledged or leveraged by marketers.