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The effect of consumer confusion proneness on word of mouth, trust, and customer satisfaction

Walsh, G. and Mitchell, V.W. (2010) The effect of consumer confusion proneness on word of mouth, trust, and customer satisfaction. European Journal of Marketing, 44 (6). pp. 838-859. ISSN 0309-0566

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Abstract

Purpose - Consumer sovereignty assumes that consumers have adequate product information and are able to understand that information in order to make an informed choice. However, this is not the case when consumers are confused. Recently, Walsh et al. identified dimensions of consumer confusion proneness and developed scales to measure these dimensions. Drawing on their concept of consumer confusion proneness, this paper seeks to examine consumers' general tendency to be confused from marketplace information and its effect on three relevant outcome variables - word of mouth, trust, and satisfaction. Design/methodology/approach - The reliability and validity of the consumer confusion proneness scale was tested on the basis of a sample of 355 consumers, using confirmatory factor analysis. The study employs structural equation modelling to examine the hypothesised relationships. Findings - The results show that the consumer confusion proneness scale has sound psychometric properties and that the three dimensions of similarity, overload, and ambiguity have a differential impact on word of mouth behaviour, trust, and customer satisfaction. Practical implications - The findings have implications for marketing theory and management, as well as consumer education. Marketers may apply the consumer confusion proneness scale to their customers and assess which dimension is the most damaging in terms of the three marketing outcomes examined. Originality/value - This is the first study to test Walsh et al.'s consumer confusion proneness scale and to extend their work by analysing the effect of the three construct dimensions on three key marketing outcome variables.