Marketing Paper



Context 2

Aim.. 2

Research questions. 3

Key words. 3

Theoretical framework. 3

Literature review.. 3

References. 5


Emotional confidence plays a critical role in consumer purchase behavior. Unfortunately, not many studies have been undertaken in this research area. It is in the context of this dearth of literature that this study will be carried out. The scope of this research paper will be narrowed down to the issue of retail purchase channels in respect of the most popular brand of tablet computer: the iPad. iPad is the brand name for the line of tablet computers manufactured, marketed, and distributed by Apple Inc.


Today, a trend has emerged that is characterized by a move towards e-commerce as far as retail purchase channels are concerned (Miyazaki & Fernandez, 2001; Van Baal & Dach, 2005). Different customers perceive different risk levels depending on the item being purchased, the retail channel being used, and their level of emotional confidence (O’Cass & Fenech, 2003; Forsythe, 2006). For instance, in internet shopping, internet experience is critical for the development of positive perceptions towards this purchase channel (Venkatesh, 2010). Web retailing behavior differs remarkably from traditional retailing behavior. Yet no research has been conducted to examine how these differences manifests themselves for different customers, products, and contexts. Both hedonic and utilitarian motivations play a critical role in defining online shopping behavior in retail contexts (Childers, 2001). In some cases, retailers use multiple channels in a complementary fashion to maximize the benefits accruing to customers (Kwon, 2009). Customers prefer channels that give them access to adequate information regarding the products they are going to purchase (Noble, Griffith & Weinberger, 2005; Wallace, 2004; Choi & Park, 2006).

There is also a relationship between consumers’ purchase decisions and intentions to switch from one channel to the other (Gupta, Su & Walter, 2004). The intention to make a channel switch varies from one consumer to the other because of differences in emotional confidence, characteristics of the channel, market segmentation, demographics, switching costs, and channel-risk perceptions (Gupta, Su & Walter, 2004). Moreover, the choice of channel may be influenced by product attributes, whereby consumers perceive a certain channel to be the most appropriate platform on which to purchase the product (Degeratu, 2000).

It is important to focus on one product line because of the need to provide an in-depth analysis of how customers perceive it in terms of both hedonistic and utilitarian aspects, both of which are influenced in one way or the other by one’ emotional confidence. For example, a customer, probably a teenager, is likely to be purchase an iPad based on emotional reactions that were triggered by hedonistic value of this technological gadget. In contrast, a business executive might respond emotionally by purchasing a similar iPad primarily because of its utilitarian value in business contexts.


The aim of this paper is to investigate how hedonistic and utilitarian factors influence their purchase behavior in terms of the choice of retail purchase channels for iPads.


Research questions

  1. How do hedonistic and utilitarian considerations influence iPad purchase behavior in terms of choice of retail purchase channels?
  2. How are changes in retail purchase channel preferences reflected in differences in emotional confidence among different iPad buyers?
  3. What is the relationship between consumers’ emotional confidence and their intention and/or decision to switch from one retail purchase channel to the other?

Key words

Emotional confidence, purchase behavior, purchase intentions, Hedonistic factors, utilitarian factors, retail purchase channel

Theoretical framework

A number of theories have been suggested in studies on emotional confidence and its impact on consumer purchase behavior in regards to the choice of retail channels. The most dominant ones include consumer culture theory (Arnould & Thompson, 2005), consumer behavior theory (Koufaris, 2002), traditional theory of choice (Koufaris, 2002), theory of time allocation (Reardon & McCorkle, 2002) and general discrete choice model (Talluri & Ryzin, 2004).

Consumer culture theory discusses consumption from the point of view of experiential, symbolic, socio-cultural, and ideological aspects. Through an analysis of this theory, one can gain insights into and the rationale for changes and differences in marketplace and consumption behaviors. On the other hand, the consumer behavior theory explains how different consumers exhibit different behaviors in response changes to purchase environments (Turley & Chebat, 2002). The traditional theory of choice is based on the view that all purchase decisions that consumers make are aimed at increasing utility. The theory of time allocation proposes that the cost of time is as important as the cost of goods and services being bought by the customer. The general discrete choice model simply seeks to make the traditional theory of choice operational by examining different spatial factors affecting purchase decisions such as residential location, employment decisions, and travel behavior (Brock, 2001; Swait & Adamowicz, 2001). This paper will be based on the traditional theory of choice.

Literature review

The  main themes in studies on consumer purchase behavior include retail experiences (Mathwick, Malhotra & Rigdon, 2002; Verhoef, 2009), consumer choice (Black, 2002), the relationship between retail environment and consumers’ emotional experience (Andreu & Bigné, 2006). Other dominant themes include trust (Bramall, Schoefer & McKechnie, 2004), the dynamics of consumer decision-making in multichannel contexts (Balasubramanian, 2005), channel switching behavior (Reardon & McCorkle, 2002), and differences in consumer preferences in physical and online stores (Keen, 2004; Kim, & Park, 2005). In these themes, researchers have explored to varying lengths the different factors affecting the choice of retail channels by consumers. Some of the factors that feature in these analyses include emotional confidence, nature of product or service, social-cultural factors, and emotional confidence.

According to Black (2002), rapid changes in channels of distribution are being experienced, and this has led to the emergence of the notion of multi-channeling. It is important to understand why a consumer chooses a specific retail channel when purchasing a product or service (Nicholson, Clarke & Blakemore, 2002). Such an understanding provides insights into the dynamics of consumer purchase behavior. For instance, Andreu & Bigné (2006) point out that perceived retail environment might influence the emotional experience of the consumer, thereby potentially affecting a decision to switch to a different retail channel in future purchases.

The issue of consumer trust in relation to the choice of retail channels has been widely discussed. Consumers cannot purchase products from retailers whom they do not trust (Bramall, Schoefer & McKechnie, 2004). The issue of trust has become very important primarily because of the emergence of a new trend whereby consumers are purchasing products via the Internet (Park, 2003). As a risk management strategy, consumers might be expected to complement e-commerce with traditional purchase channels that are based on physical stores. By implication, the perception of risk might influence switching behavior among consumers (Reardon & McCorkle, 2002).

When consumers are buying items, they are not just seeking utilitarian and hedonistic ends; they are also attempting to allocate time in the most efficient manner possible. This view of purchase behavior has led to the emergence of the theory of time allocation as one of the dominant frameworks for explaining the purchase behavior of consumer units such as households. The time factor might affect the decision by consumers to switch to a different retail purchase channel or even the preference for different channels for different products.

This literature review shows that too much focus is on consumer preferences, choice of retail channels, switching behavior, and consumer trust in online purchase channels. No study has been carried out to attempt to establish a relationship between consumer purchase behavior in terms of retail channel choice and emotional confidence. Therefore, this study can contribute to this debate by examining aspects of consumer purchase behavior not just from the product perspective (impact of product line on choice of retail channel) but also the consumer perspective (emotional confidence).


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