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Aspects of Online Consumer Behavior

Abstract

Over years, numerous researches have been conducted by various scholars in highlighting many aspects of online consumer behavior. In as much as immense progress has been made in this trivial field, most of the studies have been conducted from a general viewpoint and not specifically pinpointing the exact issues on the ground. As a result, much of the essential information that we direly need has been blown along the way; and the little that remains faces the threat of extinction based on the highly dynamic online world.

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Given that, this research prospectus is going to circumspectly develop into expansively highlighting the building blocks of online consumer behavior while in part, bringing to light the current factors that dictate the behavior of these online consumers. It is from the aforementioned research prospectus precepts that this paper proposes fundamental considerations that should be made by both online consumers and retailers to keep this vibrant market alive. The paper then concludes by giving a recap of what is entailed in it and then gives you a sneak preview of what can be expected shortly.

Introduction

Perner (n.d.) defines consumer behavior as the study of people, the procedures they use, traits they show or how they behave when selecting, using, or disposing of products and services; and how do all these affect the society around them. Internet usage in advertising, marketing, or as a magnet for consumers is something that has been around for quite a while. However, researchers document great evolution in the online world over recent times which has-in effect- led to radical changes taking place (Kanuk, 2004). According to Feng (2008), internet use as a tool for attracting consumers has immensely grown over time.

Cheung, Zhu, Kwong, Chan, and Limayem (2003), support this idea by saying that “Online consumer behavior has become an emerging research area with an increasing number of publications per year.” this increase is equated to the increased number of researches that have been and are still being-collected by researchers from across the globe on online consumer behavior.

In reviewing the findings of these researchers, I found that most of them employed a vast usage of behavior theories. The most common ones being Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), Technology Acceptance Model(TAM), Innovative diffusion theory, and Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). This is in tandem with the research that was previously conducted by Cheung et al (2003). However, there is a slight variation in terms of the actual implementation of these theories since the online world is marginally different from the offline world.

So in as much as the online and offline worlds complement one another and relatively operate on the same paradigms; the online world is arguably more complex and thus some of its facets not being able to be utterly regulated. For purposes of clarity, the paper is divided into several sections with sub-topics and topics indicating the start or continuation of a particular school of thought. So despite sections, A and B is represented differently, both of them are mutually interdependent and equally important in furthering the purpose of this paper.

Purpose

The fundamental purpose of this research prospectus is concurrently highlighting the elementary aspects of online consumer behavior as well as highlighting the factors that affect online consumption. Most of the researches that have been previously done on online consumer behaviors concentrates on the trends, relationship between the buyers and sellers, how to act when shopping but none has been able to develop into the underlying factors which are the driving forces behind this dynamic arena. As a vital note, the research prospectus also sheds light on what to expect from online consumers shortly. This gives a crucial insight to consumers and prepares them for what is to come.

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Rationale

This paper seeks to incorporate the rich findings by other scholars, highlight what is currently happening and connect it to what is expected shortly in terms of the behavior of online consumers. This connection of the past, present, and future is critical to both consumers and buyers because it is only by knowing where we are from that we can act accordingly in the present as we plan for the future. In addition, the findings will not just focus on the theoretical aspects of consumer behaviors but will deeply usher you into the practical realms of online usage as a magnet for consumers.

As a result, you will not only be empowered with priceless knowledge but also get the know-how of implementing this information in your favor. And Since the growth of the online community has intensified the complexity of online consumer behaviors, this paper is going to simplify these behaviors by disentangling the nappy-rooted intricacies into understandable formats that can be grasped by all people (Feng, 2008).

Literature Review

Consumer behavior study enables one to understand the buyer decision-making process because it gives reasons why one buys a commodity, how he/she buys it, what he/she buys, and when he/she does so (Macinnis & Hoyer, 2010Consumer according to Macinnis & Hoyer (2010) is influenced by different groups such as friends, family, society and reference groups as well. They further state that a consumer undergoes a process before he decides to purchase an item.

A consumer is first faced with a problem when an item is out of stock or he/she is dissatisfied with the current service or product which he/she becomes motivated to solve. What follows is the consumer’s search for information necessary to make the purchase decision. Once a consumer has acquired the necessary information, he/she compares the various products and brands available before deciding on the particular one to buy.

In this research prospectus, I analyzed over 30 articles which all proved worth reading. There were variations in terms of their line of thinking but all of them tend to agree that there has been increased consumption of internet products over time. Some of the notable reviews include Avenue A / Razorfish’s (2007) study of digital consumer behavior which gave a great insight into the current trends in the digital world as well as factors affecting them. Cheung et al (2003), Feng (2008), and Petrovic (2010) also give insights on the factors affecting online consumer behaviors although their focuses interchangeably shift from past, present to future depending on the context. As a general note, all the literature I reviewed and used here proved invaluably important.

Note-worthily, despite containing vital information, some write-ups were too simplistic; and this may sometimes not auger well with some intellectual readers who are looking for depth. There was also an element of repetition in ideas, opinions, and suggestions by some authors. This is a clear indication that more people should come out and bring new information to the public arena to scrap off this redundancy (Maklan, Knox & Watson, 2001).

Who has done Research on Online Consumer Behavior?

As of today, thousands of researches have been conducted on online consumer behaviors. Some have been holistically for research; others specifically for educational purposes while others have just been generally done for fun. These researches cut across all genres since online consumerism is done by people from all walks of life except those who can not access the internet (Yun, 2002). Examples of recent researches conducted include Avenue A / Razorfish (2007), Maklan et al. (2001), and Chen (2005) all advocate for positive behavior change in the world of online consumer behaviors.

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What has been done so far

Maklan et al. (2001) observe that numerous contributions have been made by researchers on the behavior of online consumers. According to him, this has been accelerated by the many avenues that readily give out information. An example is the search engine “Google’ where you can get virtually any kind of information so long as you have typed the correct keyword. This empowerment makes, therefore, makes it relatively easy to conduct more researches as opposed to the olden days.

As a result of this free world, an endless list of things has been done by these researchers. The most notable ones include the discovery of the renowned structural model, the inception of the widely used 5-stage consumer buying model among many others (Maklan et al., 2001).

What Method they Used

In essence, there are normally two basic methods of data collection. I.e. primary data collection method and secondary data collection methods. Both of these are further divided into many other smaller methods. The primary method deals with an individual or group of people collecting information by themselves. Secondary method on the other hand profits from the information collected by other people. In the olden days, most of the information was being conducted using the primary method since there were limited- or no records of past data collection. On the other hand, the second method has been in use in recent times more than it was used before. This is because of the several types of research that have been conducted by others so all we need is just to type the keywords and look them up (Perner n.d.).

Who were their Subjects

Avenue A/ Razorfish (2007) and Petrovic (2010) opinionate that the best crowd to use in studies is teenagers or people above the teenage age bracket. This was mostly based on the fact that people of the teenage age bracket and those above it were able to logically answer questions accorded to them. On the contrary, recent demographics and statistics indicate that even younger people are nowadays used as subjects. The choice of subject highly depends on the nature of the research. It is also important to note that there have been several occasions where the issue of gender has come into play. The major challenge of determining things like age and gender over the internet is that people can easily manipulate their identities thus the researcher ending up with wrong statistics.

What did they Find

Based on the vastness of the online market; products and services are more likely to be sold over the internet as opposed to the offline market. This is mainly facilitated by the fact that online markets are not stringent on identifications. So even underage children can gain access to the online world (Petrovic, 2010). On a positive note, children can learn a lot from their access to the internet. On the negative end, learning the wrong things can be very detrimental to his/her wellbeing.

Petrovic (2010) further outlines that there are four distinct consumer groups with different motivations i.e. Exploration, entertainment, shopping, Information, and music which propel them towards their online mannerisms

In addition, the majority of consumers are currently depicted as embracing the issue of personalizing their digital experience. About this, Avenue A/ Razorfish (2007) have noted an increased digital audience based on the curious consumers who sample a wide variety of digital content. As per their survey, the majority of the people currently subscribe to content feeds and read them through specialized gadgets. This is the exact opposite of what used to happen when the internet had not been put in place.

Current statistics on the media also tend to amass that most people get to know news and keep up to date with occurrences in the dynamic world by checking through the internet. The old methods of overreliance on gadgets like TV have been faced out and only a small percentage of people currently subscribe to this school of thought.

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A majority of people also prefer listening to videos or watching movies over the internet rather than doing it on the phone. This shift in trend is somehow worrying to mobile companies who invested largely in internet phones to enhance sales as well as convenience.

What were the Limitations of their Research

The main limitation of the research was that it was centered on only a small number of people. A more vastly represented populace would give more detailed and accurate information or rather, more accurate results.

How do their Findings Compare to other Studies

These findings are in tandem with what the market currently spells out. However, since their research was not so accommodating, their answers vary slightly in terms of depth of content.

Methodology

This section focuses on how I went about collecting the information, the challenges I faced, the equipment that I used, the models I employed in my work, and finally, it gives you a glimpse of what can be expected shortly.

Research Design

According to the knowledge base (2006) research design is the “glue that holds the research project together.” Without it, the researcher might try fixing the project but everything will eventually fall apart. It is therefore fundamental that the choice of design is one that ultimately fits in the operations of the organization it is aimed at.

In this research prospect, I intend to use the natural observation design to keenly establish the factors that govern online consumer behavior. Of course, man is a social being, and obtrusively studying him/her without consent can be termed as rude. Similarly, there is also a group of people who if consented will refuse to be “subjects of study.” I, therefore, intend to do my observations guided by professionalism but in essence not limiting myself and consequently compromising the quality of the project results.

Type of Study

In this project, am planning to use a quantitative research method to establish the exact relationship between the factors and the effect these factors have on online consumer behaviors. For the accuracy of this study, am going to use fifty (50) people so that I can get the most descriptively tentative results.

Description of Research Method

I plan on incorporating both primary and secondary sources in my research. The primary sources will be the information I collect by myself, analyze, and then interpret them into logical information. In using primary sources, I will employ the use of a survey questionnaire for asking questions, a camera for studying the behavior of victims when subjected to different factors, interviews for getting personal reactions to different circumstances among others. For secondary sources, I will major on books, articles, and audiovisual equipment of what had been collected before me. This is mainly for giving me an overview of what to expect from my subjects.

Emphasis is however going to be on the information that I have gathered from my primary sources

Limitations/Biasness of the Research

The main limitation that I foresee is the financial challenge. Using the primary

Method of data collection poses prospects of great depletion of time and resources.

The other limitation I foresee is culturally based. Different people have different views towards variant issues. For example; if I ask a Whiteman a question like “what do you think is the trend of online consumerism among the whites? The recipient might take what I ask as being racial and thus get angry.

Population and Sample

As Outlined earlier in the introduction, mature people tend to give good responses. My focus is therefore going to be on men and women aged between 18 and 40. The population will be inclusive of as many races as possible but this research will focus on adults interested in buying mobile phones or similar commodities aged between 18 to 34 years old. A total of 50 people would be moderately enough, although if I get more funds and facilities along the way, I will increase the number of people.

Type of Data Analysis

I will use heuristic analysis/phenomenology in analyzing the data (Muellbauer & Deaton, 1980). This is because this project not only affects others but has a direct influence on me.

Data Analysis

Since my research method incorporates both primary and secondary research methods, pinpointing one data analysis method might not work. I am therefore going to use content analysis, discourse analysis, and domain analysis.

Conclusion

Consumer behavior in a real sense involves much more than purchasing products. Consumer behavior is very important for marketers since it gives them clues on who uses, buys, and disposes of any particular product as well as to where, when, and why he/she does so (Macinnis & Hoyer, 2010). The psychological process that is associated with purchasing products is worth understanding because it will provide one or a firm with the knowledge that will be instrumental in understanding the consumer better.

References

Avenue A / Razorfish. (2007). Digital consumer behavior study. Web.

Cheung, C., Zhu, L., Kwong, T., Chan, G. & Limayem, M. (2003). Online consumer behavior: A review and agenda for Future Research. Web.

Feng, W. (2008). Online consumer behavior and research costs on deal seeking forums. Web.

Kanuk, L. (2004). Consumer behavior. Hong Kong: Pearson Education.

Knowledge base. (2006). What is the research methods knowledge base? Web.

Macinnis, D. & Hoyer, W. (2010). Consumer Behavior. USA: Cengage Learning.

Maklan, S. Knox, S. & Watson, K. (2001). How is consumer behavior affected by online relationship. Web.

Muellbauer, J. & Deaton, A. (1980). Economics and consumer behavior. USA:Cambridge  University Press.

Perner, L. (n.d.). Lars Perner at the Marshall school of business. Web.

Petrovic, D. (2010). Analysis of consumer behavior online. Web.

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