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Toward an Integrated

Framework for Online


Consumer Behavior and
Decision Making Process:
A Review
William K. Darley
Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Charles Blankson
University of North Texas

Denise J. Luethge
Northern Kentucky University

ABSTRACT
This paper presents a comprehensive review of recent empirical
studies dealing with online consumer behavior and decision-making
processes. To that end, the paper adapts and extends Engel, Kollat,
and Blackwells (1978) and Engel, Blackwell, and Miniards (1986)
decision-making model as backdrop in the review of the literature.
The vast majority of studies examine the link between external factors and one or more components of the decision-making process. The
findings of this study show a paucity of research on a number of components of decision making, as well as inconsistencies in the way the
online environment is characterized. Finally, the findings show that
student samples are prevalent among the studies identified and the
research method is biased toward the survey method as opposed to
experimentation. Discussion and conclusions are provided, and directions for future research are presented. 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 27(2): 94116 (February 2010)


Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com)
2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. DOI: 10.1002/mar.20322
94

The rise of the Internet has propelled commerce into an electronic age, changing almost every aspect of daily lives, from how consumers communicate and
learn about product offerings, to how they shop and buy products and services
(Kim & Lennon, 2008). As expected, advertising through the Internet is now an
important source of consumer information. As noted by Kim and Lennon (2008),
the Internet is the fastest growing retail channel, with sales volumes nearly
triple that of total retail sales in 2004 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). Internet
retail sales are projected to reach over $331 billion by 2010 (Kim & Lennon,
2008). Despite the current economic hardship challenging consumers worldwide, the increasing adoption of the Internet among the general population
appears to project a brighter future for retail Internet patronization by consumers. Consumers increasingly are using the Internet to collect e-coupons and
create their own virtual coupon books, as noted by Kang et al. (2006), who claim
that consumers obtain online a variety of coupons, from grocery shopping to
theatre performances to hotels.
Despite the increasing attention and interest surrounding online consumer
behavior in the last decade, there is a paucity of documented studies that attempt
to integrate research findings across studies from a theoretical marketing and consumer behavior perspective. This gap in the literature has given impetus for this
paper. One should note that there have been attempts in information systems and
other allied areas (see, for example, Saeed, Hwang, & Yi, 2003; Hodkinson & Kiel,
2003) to integrate research findings so as to explain online consumer behavior
from the perspective of information systems, but little with regard to marketing.
Thus, the purpose of this study is to present a review framework that provides
an understanding of the extent to which the current marketing and consumer
behavior body of literature contributes to an understanding of online consumer behavior and the decision making process. This paper adapts and extends
Engel, Kollat, and Blackwells (1978) and Engel, Blackwell, and Miniards (1986) (EKB)
model of consumer behavior as a backdrop in synthesizing findings from the literature. Figure 1 presents an adapted version of the EKB model of consumer behavior.

LITERATURE REVIEW
The Engel-Kollat-Blackwell (EKB) model extended John Deweys (1910) original
five-stage problem-solving process and applied it to consumer behavior. Using the
EKB model as a backdrop, the focus is on the five core stages of the decisionmaking process (i.e., problem recognition, search, alternative evaluation purchase, choice, and outcomes). These five stages are the most widely accepted, as
evidenced in a majority of consumer behavior textbooks (see, for example, Assael,
1998; Blackwell, Miniard, & Engel, 2005; Hawkins, Best, & Cooney, 2003).
For the purposes of this review paper, the focus is on the decision process stages,
the cognitive (i.e., beliefs), affective (i.e., attitudes), and conative (i.e., intentions)
factors underlying alternative evaluation, and the external or environmental
influences on the decision process stages (see Figure 1). The external or environmental factors are broken into four parts: (1) individual differences or characteristics such as motives, values, lifestyle, and personality; (2) socio-cultural factors
such as culture, social class, reference groups, and family; (3) situational and
economic factors; and (4) online atmospherics or environmental aspects (e.g., Web
site quality, Web site interface, Web site satisfaction, and Web site experience).
ONLINE CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

95

Decision Process

External Factors

Problem Recognition

Individual
Characteristics
Motives
Value
Life Style
Personality

Internal
Search
External
Beliefs
Alternative Evaluation

Attitudes
Intentions

Purchase

Consumption

Situational and
Economic
Factors
Online
Environment
Web Site
Quality
Web Site
Interface
Web Site
Satisfaction
Web Site
Experience

Outcomes

Cognitive
Dissonance

Social
Influences
Culture
Reference
Group
Family

Dissatisfaction/
Satisfaction

Disinvestment

Source: Adapted from Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell (1978) and Engel, Blackwell,
and Miniard (1986).

Figure 1. A modified model of online consumer behavior and decision making.

The extended model (1) recognizes the central role of the five stages of the
decision-making process as well as recognizes the moderators, interactions, and
consequences of the decision-making process; (2) is consistent with the call for a
return to a focus on the satisfaction of human needs rather than an emphasis on
technology (Porter, 2001; Grant, Clarke, & Kyriazis, 2007; Wind & Mahajan,
2002); and (3) recognizes the fact that online consumer behavior is a complex phenomenon. The proposed model is therefore comprehensive enough to capture
the interactions, moderators, and underpinnings.

DATA COLLECTION
First, empirical studies that appeared in the major mainstream marketing and
consumer behavior journals in the period of 2001 to 2008 were identified through
96

DARLEY, BLANKSON, AND LUETHGE


Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

a research database (i.e., Business Source Premier). Second, searches were conducted of a large number of journals that were likely to publish topics relating
to online consumer behavior and decision-making process. Using Cabells journal directory as a starting point, the initial list included over 60 journals.
Journal of Business Research and Management Science were included because
they carry mainstream marketing or marketing-related articles.
Specifically, in terms of procedure, it was decided to include only studies that
have been published in major marketing and consumer behavior journals (i.e.,
within the traditional marketing domain using Cabells Directory as a backdrop),
as well as allied journals (e.g., Journal of Business Research and Management Science). Third, only empirically based online consumer behavior studies published
between 2001 and 2008 where the unit of analysis involves data from surveys or
experiments were included for further consideration. Thus, to be included in the
review, a study had to meet two conditions or requirements: (1) It involved empirical testing of an aspect of online consumer behavior decision making, directly or
indirectly; and (2) it involved actual primary data collection (e.g., survey and/
or experimentation). The initial list of journals contained 27 of the 55 marketing
journals tracked by Theoharakis and Hirst (2002) in their world ranking. These
were viewed as mainstream marketing sources and were considered appropriate
outlets for research on online consumer behavior and decision-making process.
It is important to note that for the purpose of this study, only empirically
tested constructs and relationships, rather than conceptual approaches, were considered. This approach allowed the authors to explain and predict online
consumer behavior and decision-making process, in general, and to examine
the integration of online behavior in the proposed extension of the EKB model.
For the literature search, keywords appearing in phrases including online
consumer behavior, online consumer search behavior, Internet search behavior,
online information search, online purchasing behavior, Internet consumer
behavior, and online decision making were used. As a validation check, all relevant journal titles with the aforementioned keywords in the subject item, by
article title, and by abstract were searched. Each identified article was reviewed
and screened by two academics with expertise in the subject area to eliminate
nonpertinent articles. As noted earlier, the experts based their screening on
whether (1) it was published from 2001 to 2008, (2) it involved empirical testing of an aspect of online decision making or online consumer behavior, and
(3) it involved actual primary data. Excluded from the pool were modeling studies and those studies that involved auctions on the Internet or bidding behavior. Incidentally, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising,
Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Business, Journal of Consumer
Marketing, Journal of International Marketing, Journal of Product and Brand
Management, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of the Market Research Society, and Marketing Management Journal were eliminated
because no relevant articles were found for the 2001 to 2008 period.
A list of 108 peer-reviewed articles dealing with online consumer behavior,
online purchase behavior, and online decision making or any combination of the
aforementioned terminologies, were identified. A content analysis was performed
on the articles, resulting in 52 pertinent articles emanating from 25 journals
(Table 1). The selected articles were then coded along the following dimensions:
methodology, sample size, sample source, independent variables, dependent variables, and study findings. A summary is presented in Table 2.

ONLINE CONSUMER BEHAVIOR


Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

97

Table 1. List of Online Consumer Behavior and Decision Making Processes


Studies Published in Marketing and Consumer Behavior Journals.
Number of
Articles

Journals Studied
European Journal of Marketing
International Journal of Business Research
International Journal of Consumer Studies
International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management
International Marketing Review
International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research
Journal of Business Research
Journal of Consumer Psychology
Journal of Consumer Research
Journal of Customer Behavior
Journal of Interactive Marketing
Journal of International Consumer Marketing
Journal of Marketing Management
Journal of Marketing Research
Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
Journal of Retailing
Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services
Journal of Service Research
Management Science
Marketing Letters
Psychology & Marketing
Service Industries Journal
Total

2
1
7
3
1
1
2
2
1
1
6
2
1
1
2
6
1
1
2
2
6
1
52

Table 1 shows the final list of 25 journals, 17 of which had previously been
part of the 55 marketing journals tracked by Theoharakis and Hirst (2002) in
their worldwide ranking. Table 1 also shows the total number of articles and the
number of articles per journal. As noted earlier, 52 articles were selected from
the 25 journals and were subjected to content analysis. International Journal
of Retail & Distribution Management, Psychology of Marketing, Journal of
Interactive Marketing, Journal of Retailing, and Journal of Consumer Studies
had five to eight articles each. These accounted for about 54% (i.e., 28 out of 52)
of the total number of articles studied. In addition, they were the most popular
outlets for online consumer behavior and decision-making research.
In the next section, Table 2 is presented; it is a summary review of a selected
number of recent articles dealing with online consumer behavior and decisionmaking process. This is followed by the findings, conclusion, and future research
directions.

FINDINGS
Table 2 lists the studies covered by authors and year of publication. It also provides information on the method(s) employed, sample size and the source of the
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Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

Experiment

Survey

Aggarwal and
Vaidyanathan
(2003), JMM

Anderson and
Zahaf (2007),
IJBR

Experiment

Experiment

Bechwati and
Xia (2003), JCP

Bickart and
Schindler (2001),
JIM

69

52

Online survey 1011

631

214

42

Sample
Size

Barnes, Bauer,
Neumann, and
Huber (2007),
EJM

Andrews, Kiel,
Internet
Drennan, Boyle,
survey
and Weerawardena
(2007), EJM

Method

Authors (Year)

Purchasing
through the
C2C channel
or not

Consumer
preference

Independent
Variable

College
students

College
students

Type of site,
topic

Information
about search
progress,
customization
of results

Adult
Neuroticism,
consumers willingness to
buy, shopping
pleasure

Adult
Gender
consumers differences

Online
shoppers

College
students

Sample
Source

Purchase likelihood,
interest and knowledge
about category, expected
spending

(Continued)

Consumers who gathered information from online


discussions reported greater interest in this product
topic than did those consumers who acquired
information from the marketer generated sources.

Consumers satisfaction with the search process is


positively associated with their perception of effort
saved for them by electronic aids.

Cluster analysis confirmed three-cluster solution,


namely, risk-averse doubters, open-minded online
shoppers, and reserved information seekers. The
discriminating variables were neuroticism,
willingness to buy, and shopping pleasure.

Risk averse doubters,


open-minded online
shoppers, reserved
information seekers
Satisfaction with job
search process and
results, perceptions of
effort

Male online purchasers were discriminated from


female purchasers by social value and from male
non-purchasers by conditional value. Female
purchasers were discriminated from male
purchasers by functional value and from female
non-purchasers by social value.

Those who use the C2C channel take more time and
do more research that compensates for the risk that
they take.

There is a closer match between conjoint type


full-profile and self-explicated ratings for products
closer to the extremes of consumer preference.

Findings

Perceived risk, results


demonstrability, relative
advantage, social prestige,
personal status

Price, shopping time,


perceived risk, shopping
time, loyalty

Best product to
recommend

Dependent
Variable

Table 2. Summary Review of Online Consumer Behavior and Decision Making Literature.

197

372

Experiment

Internet
survey

Survey

Childers, Carr,
Peck, and Carson
(2001), JR

Cho (2006), JR

Cowart and
Goldsmith (2007),
IJCS

Das, Echambadi,
Survey
McCardle, and
Luckett (2003), ML

881

274

584

Experiment

Breugelmans,
Campo, and
Gijsbrechts
(2006), JR

Sample
Size

Method

Authors (Year)

Table 2. (Continued)
Independent
Variable

Usefulness,
ease of use,
enjoyment,
navigation,
convenience,
and suitability

Internet
users

College
students

Shopping frequency,
spending

Willingness to commit in
a long-term relation and
self-disclosure

Attitude towards shopping

Post-purchase experience

Dependent
Variable

Purchase made on the


Need for
cognition, social Web, information seeking
loneliness,
behavior, surfing behavior
interpersonal
trust

Consciousness,
impulsiveness,
over-choice

Adult
Core business
consumers operation,
relationship
investments,
competence,
benevolence,
trust, and
distrust

College
students

Adult
Three types of
consumers out of stock
scenarios

Sample
Source

(Continued)

E-consumers who are low on interpersonal trust are


less likely to shop on the Web due to heightened
concerns with Web security. E-consumers who enjoy
cognitively demanding processing tasks are more
likely to use the Web for information search.

Consciousness, hedonistic shopping, impulsiveness,


and brand loyalty were positively correlated with
online apparel shopping. Price sensitivity was
negatively correlated with online spending.

Trust and distrust are shaped by different


dimensions of trustworthiness, and trust affects
behavioral intentions differently than distrust.

Results support the differential importance of


immersive, hedonic aspects of the new media as
well as the more traditional utilitarian motivations.
Also, navigation, convenience, and suitability of the
electronic environment to personally examining
products were found to be important predictors of
online shopping attitudes.

The adopted stock-out policy has a significant


impact on consumers category purchase and
choice decisions.

Findings

Survey

Survey

Falk, Schepers,
Hammerschmidt,
and Bauer (2008),
JSR

Fransi and Viadiu


(2007), IJCS

Goldsmith
(2002), JMTP

Longitudinal
survey

Garbarino and
Survey
Strahilevitz (2004),
JBR
Experiment

Survey

Method

Dash and Saji


(2007), IJCM

Authors (Year)

Table 2. (Continued)

College
students

College
students

220

Amount of
Internet use,
Internet
innovativeness

Gender with
Web usage as
covariate
No recommendation, recommendation by a
friend, and by
two friends.

Consumers Reliability,
assurance,
communication

Internet
Perceived
consumers usefulness of
the channel,
perceived risk
of the channel,
trust in the
service product

College
students

107

Independent
Variable

Dependent
Variable

Online buying, intent to


buy online

(Continued)

Frequency of buying and intent to buy online in the


future were predicted by general innovativeness, an
innovative predisposition toward buying online, and
involvement with the Internet.

Women perceive a higher level of risk in online


purchasing than do men and having a site
recommended by a friend lends to both a
greater reduction in perceived risk and a stronger
increase in willingness to buy online among women
than among men.

Perceived risk

Effectiveness of receiving
a recommendation from
a friend

Three segments were identified: (1) young demanding


people who were worried about reliability and
confidentiality, (2) young people who were worried
about confidentiality and who were seeking fast and
easy navigation, and (3) somewhat older Internet
users who had low expectations of an ideal Internet
store and who were not particularly satisfied with
their purchase experiences.

Offline channel satisfaction reduces the perceived


usefulness and enhances the perceived risk of the
online channel. The negative relationship between
offline channel satisfaction and perceived usefulness
is significantly stronger for men, older people, and
less-experienced Internet users.

The consumer self-efficacy and Web site socialpresence affect trust, perceived usefulness, and
perceived risk in the online customers, and in turn
positively influence the customers intention to
purchase products online.

Findings

Online satisfaction

Behavioral intention

Intentions to transact
Adult
Perceived
consumers usefulness,
trust, perceived
risk, self efficacy,
social presence

Sample
Source

260

464

639

510

Sample
Size

E-mail
survey

Online
survey

Survey

Online
survey

Internet
survey

Survey

Hansen (2008),
IJCS

Hansen (2006),
IRRDCR

Hennig-Thurau,
Gwinner, Walsh,
and Gremler
(2004), JIM

Jepsen (2007),
JIM

Jiang, Jones, and


Javie (2008), PM

Method

Ha and Perks
(2005), JCB

Authors (Year)

Table 2. (Continued)

355

233

2063

198

1058

203

Sample
Size

Independent
Variable
Brand trust

Dependent
Variable

(Continued)

Web site certification can reassure potential


customers and increase the probability of
purchase.

The amount of Internet use affects use of the


Internet for pre-purchase information search more
than perceived low search costs and perceived
availability of information.

Consumers desire for social interaction, desire for


economic incentives, and the potential to enhance
their own self-worth are the primary factors leading
to e-WOM behavior.

Platform visit frequency,


comment writing

Perceived search Use of Internet for


cost, importance information research
of Internet in
life, interest in
product

Eleven motives

Consumers attitude towards online grocery buying


is positively affected by perceived offline physical
effort and negatively affected by offline shopping
enjoyment.

Consumers may link personal values to attitude


toward online grocery buying but this relation may
be moderated by whether the consumer previously
has carried out an online purchase on an online
grocery purchase.

Brand experiences, search for information, high


level of brand familiarity, and customer satisfaction
are antecedents of brand trust.

Findings

Repeat online grocery


buying intentions

Adult
Intensity of logo Perception of third-party
consumers exposure,
participation, trust
importance of
transfer to e-marketers
trust

Internet
users

Internet
users

Adult
Perceived
consumers physical effort,
time pressures,
shopping
enjoyment

Adult
Values, perceived Willingness to buy
consumers social influence,
perceived
behavior control,
attitude toward
online grocery
buying

Internet
Experience,
consumers familiarity,
satisfaction

Sample
Source

Survey

Survey

Survey

Experiment

Survey

Kim and Lee


(2008), IJCS

Klein and Ford


(2003), JIM

Koernig (2003),
PM

Kuhlmeier and
Knight (2005),
IMR

Method

Kang, Hahn,
Fortin, Hyun, and
Eom (2006), PM

Authors (Year)

Table 2. (Continued)

492

102

337

176

410

Sample
Size

Perceived
usefulness of
information,
search satisfaction with
previous
purchases,
frequency of
information
search
Total hours, total
sources

Frequency of product
purchases

Perceived risk, purchase


likelihood

High/low service Perceived satisfaction,


documentation attitude, patronage intent,
strategy and the recall, and perceived risk
type of visual
tangible cues

Consumers Internet
productivity,
Internet
experience

College
students

Dependent
Variable

E-coupon usage intention


Perceived
behavioral control, attitude toward Internet
searching

Independent
Variable

Adult
Demographics,
consumers knowledge, and
Internet
experience

College
students

College
students

Sample
Source

(Continued)

The extent of ongoing Internet usage, long-term


experience, and perceived risk are important
antecedents to purchasing goods via the Internet.

The documentation strategy is effective for


increasing the tangibility of services and elicits
more positive evaluations of the service and the
Web site, higher unaided recall and higher loyalty.

Basic economics continues to drive information


search measured in terms of amount of time and
breadth.

Consumers searched for and bought more often


from a retail channel they perceived more useful
for product information search. Consumers who
were more satisfied with apparel purchases from a
retail channel bought the products more frequently
via that channel.

Perceived behavioral control and attitude toward


Internet searching have significant effects on the
intention to use e-coupons.

Findings

237

274

Lim and Dubinsky Survey


(2005), PM

Survey

Web-based
survey

Within-subject
repeated
measures
design

Lin (2008), JICM

Lokken, Cross,
Halbert, Lindsey,
Derby, and
Stanford (2003),
IJCS

Mathwick and
Rigdon (2004),
JCR

110

130

766

Survey

Liang, Chen, and


Wang (2008),
SIJ

350

Sample
Size

Experiment

Method

Lee and Lee


(2004), PM

Authors (Year)

Table 2. (Continued)

The alternatives,
the number of
attributes, the
distribution of
alternatives across attributes

Independent
Variable
Choice accuracy, subjective
states, consideration set,
number of attributes
considered

Dependent
Variable

The number of attributes and attribute level of


distribution were good predictors of information
overload on consumer choice. Online information
overload resulted in less satisfied, less confident
and more confused consumers.

Findings

Attitude toward behavior,


subjective norm, perceived
behavioral control,
purchase intention

Perceived risk, Online behavior,


subjective norm, post-purchase behavior
product
involvement

Control beliefs,
normative
beliefs, attendant beliefs

Adults

High/low
involvement
products

Internet usage, perceived


play

Adult
Advantages and Satisfaction/ dissatisfaction
consumers disadvantages
with online purchasing
of online
experience
shopping

Bank
customers

College
students

(Continued)

Moderated by product involvement, play serves as


a link between flow theory and the online consumer
attitude formation process.

Differences between online shoppers and non-online


shoppers correspondent with Rogers categories of
adopters. Educational needs of consumers also
differed based on their previous experience with
online shopping.

Personal requirements for investment were the


most decisive factor for consumers to take actions.
Correctness of products was the most influential
factor for the gap of perceived service quality.

The study supported the interdependencies between


salient beliefs in the theory of planned behavior.

Customer loyalty, customer Effectiveness of relationship marketing influences


Online
Relationship
consumers type, investment, retention, customer
online consumers perception, then their loyalty,
and quality
cross-buying
and ultimately their actual purchase behavior.

College
students

Sample
Source

Method

1-experiment

2-experiment

Online survey

Survey

Survey

Authors (Year)

Menon and
Kahn (2002), JR

Menon and
Kahn (2002), JR

Page-Thomas,
Moss, Chelly,
and Yabin (2006),
IJRDM

Park and Kim


(2003), IJRDM

Ratchford, Lee,
and Talukdar
(2003), JMR

Table 2. (Continued)

886

602

715

147

64

Sample
Size
Attitudes

Dependent
Variable

Pricing guide,
Pre-purchase delivery
guarantees,
information
delivery
schedules,
delivery vendor
information,
delivery method
information

High/moderate/ Shopping behaviors


low arousal and
high/neutral
pleasure

Pleasantness
and degree of
pleasure

Independent
Variable

Car buyers Amount of


Time spent searching
experience,
in hours
content of
experience, prior
information,
time costs,
demographic

Site commitment, actual


Adult
Information
consumers quality, security purchase behavior
perceptions,
information
satisfaction

College
students

College
students

College
students

Sample
Source

(Continued)

Those who use the Internet to search for cars are


younger and more educated and search more in
general.

Information quality, user interface quality and


security perceptions affect information satisfaction,
which in turn, significantly relates to site
commitment and actual purchase behavior.

Consumers rate delivery pricing guides, delivery


guarantees, and delivery schedules as the most
important delivery information they expect online
prior to purchase.

Consumers tend to engage in less arousing activities


if higher stimulation or information load is
provided by the initial Internet experience.

There is a positive impact on approach behavior and


subjects engage in more arousing activities if the
initial experience encountered in a simulated
Internet shopping trip are higher in pleasure.

Findings

Survey

Experiment

Experiment

Survey

Survey

Senecal,
Kalczynski, and
Nantel (2004),
JBR

Senecal and
Nantel (2004),
JR

Seock and Bailey


(2008), IJCS

Seock and
Chen-Yu (2007),
IJCS

Method

Schiffman,
Sherman, and
Long (2003), PM

Authors (Year)

Table 2. (Continued)

414

956

487

293

506

Sample
Size

Dependent
Variable

Product type
Click stream
and online
decision-making
type

Consumer
Activities associated with
personal values, using the Internet
attitudes, and
preferences

Independent
Variable

College
students

College
students

Shopping
orientations

Shopping
orientation

Internet channel usage

Online information
searches; online
purchases of apparel
products

Adult
Web site type,
Online choices
consumers recommendation
source, product
type

Internet
users

Internet
users

Sample
Source

(Continued)

Subjects with different shopping orientations differ


in their Web site evaluation criteria, online
information searches, and online purchases.

Shopping orientations were significantly related to


searches for information about and purchases of
apparel online. Gender differences in their shopping
orientations, online information searches, and
purchase experiences were found.

The recommender system was the most influential


recommendation source even if it was perceived as
possessing less expertise than human experts.
Recommendations for experience products were
more influential than for search products.

Subjects who did not consult a product


recommendation had a significantly less complex
online shopping behavior than subjects who
consulted the production recommendation. No
differences were found between the online shopping
behavior of subjects who consulted but did not
follow the product recommendation and subjects
who consulted and followed the product
recommendation.

Differences were observed in behavior and feelings


about the Internet based on personal values.
Respondents who scored high on self-fulfillment
were more likely to use the Internet for learning or
gathering information.

Findings

150

Sorce, Perotti, and Survey


Widrick (2005),
IJRDM

300

639

Song and Zahedi


(2005), MS

Controlled lab
experiment

894

Soopramanien and Survey


Robertson (2007),
JRCS

Experiment

Smith, Menon,
and Sivakumar
(2005), JIM

Sample
Size

684

Method

Shim, Eastlick,
Survey
Lotz, and
Warrington (2001),
JR

Authors (Year)

Table 2. (Continued)
Independent
Variable

Dependent
Variable

Shopping goal
(utilitarian/
hedonic), peer
profile (no recommendation,
low credibility,
high credibility
information)

College
students

College
students

Age, attitude toward Internet,


shopping
attitude

Web design
categories,
attitude,
external subjective norm,
perceived
behavioral
control

Adult
Variety of
consumers demographic
information

College
students

Use of Internet for


shopping, ever purchase
target items online,
percent of online purchases

(Continued)

While older online shoppers search for significantly


fewer products than their younger counterparts,
they actually purchase as much as younger consumers
Age explained more variance in purchasing behavior if
the consumer had first searched for the product online.

Various categories of Web-design elements reinforce


Web customers beliefs, which in turn positively
impact attitudinal constructs that lead to changes
in their purchase intentions

There is a fundamental difference between those


that purchase online, those that browse online but
then purchase in-store, and those that do not shop
online at all.

Ever bought online, ever


used Internet for search

Purchase intention

Individuals who were exposed to high-credibility


peer recommender not only utilized the
recommendation to make their final selection, but
were also able to reduce the amount of search effort
invested in the overall process. Consumers prefer
peer and editorial recommendations sponsored ads.

Intention to use the Internet to search for


information is the strongest predictor of
Internet purchase intentions.

Findings

Preference for
recommendation source,
impact of recommendation
on information processing

Adult
Attitude toward Intentions to use Internet
consumers Internet
for information search and
shopping,
for saving
subjective norm,
perceived
behavioral
control

Sample
Source

Survey

Online
experiment

Experiment

Simulation
and survey

Web survey

Xia and
Sudharshan
(2002), UI

Xie, Teo, and


Wan (2006), ML

Yoon (2002), JIM

Zhang, Prybutok,
and Strutton
(2007), JMTP

Method

Venkatesh and
Agarwal (2006),
MS

Authors (Year)

Table 2. (Continued)

332

122

147

89

757

Sample
Size

College
students

College
students

Dependent
Variable

Interruption
frequency,
consumer
control timing,
content

Subjective
norms,
gender

Transaction
security, site
properties,
navigation
functionality,
personal
variables

Purchase intentions,
consumer impulsivity,
actual purchase

Gender differences exist with respect to purchase


intention, consumer impulsivity, and frequency of
purchase.

Web site trust showed significant response to site


properties. Personal variables had a high correlation
with Web site satisfaction. Online purchase
intention was influenced by Web site trust,
Web site satisfaction, and Web site awareness.
Trust and satisfaction had a high correlation.

Rewards, privacy notices, and reputation greatly


influence consumers intention to provide accurate
personal information over the Internet. Rewards
have a positive impact on decision to provide
accurate personal information but not for
demographic data. Privacy notices boost decision to
provide personal and demographic information.
A companys reputation and willingness to provide
accurate personal information are highly correlated.

Willingness to provide
demographic information,
willingness to provide
personally identifiable
information

Online trust, purchase


intentions

The right configuration of interruptions may lead


to increased online viewing time, whereas
ill-designed interruptions may be detrimental.

Web site use is a significant antecedent of purchase


behavior.

Findings

Time spent, satisfaction,


number of pages visited

Prior experience, Web site use, purchase


purchase
behavior
experience,
purchase need

Independent
Variable

Adult
Reputation,
consumers privacy notices,
and rewards

College
students

Internet
users

Sample
Source

sample, and the independent and dependent variables of the particular study.
In addition, the major findings of these studies are presented.
Content analysis of Table 2 shows that the most common research method is the
survey. Thirty-seven out of the 52 studies (71%) employed survey methodology. In
contrast, only 16 of the studies (31%) involved experimentation. The surveys were
done either by mail, e-mail, or online, while experimental designs were either conjoint, within-subjects design, or between-subjects design. The fact that only 31% of
the research endeavors are experimental designs is disappointing. This shortcoming also has been highlighted as a concern with regard to future research by
Cowart and Goldsmith (2007, p. 646) who stated that future research should readdress the topic using different measurement scales or conducting experiments to
determine whether causal relationships exists. Despite the fact that surveys are
relatively easy to conduct and can yield rich information, the survey method is
limited by peoples insight into their own behavior and by their willingness and ability to reveal what they know (Sternthal, Tybout, & Calder, 1994). It is asserted
that knowledge about online consumer behavior could also benefit from (1) what
people do or say in response to what people are presented within an experiment
and (2) observed causality. Of course, the observation of causality is the defining
aspect of the use of experiments (Sternthal, Tybout, & Calder, 1994).
The literature also shows that the use of student cohorts as population of
study is prevalent among consumer behavior theorists and marketers (Yoo,
Donthu, & Lee, 2000). This finding is expected and is well documented, especially
given that students are a highly relevant population and tend to be comfortable with all sorts of emerging Internet formats (see Dabholkar, van Dolen, &
de Ruyter, 2009). The latter is evident in Lim and Dubinskys (2005, p. 852)
claim that college students deserve e-retailer attention because of their significant numbers in a cyber world. The authors contend that college students
spend more than 20 hours per week on the Internet, and 81% of them have
made purchases online. Nonetheless, the use of students as subjects of studies is
disproportionate compared with other populations. Out of the 52 studies reported
in Table 2, 24 (i.e., 46%) of them used student samples. On the other hand, 19
studies employed adults (31%) and only 10 studies used online shoppers or
Internet users (19%) as subjects.
A review and content analysis of the literature listed in Table 2 reveals two
key themes running through the extant literature. The first theme deals with
personal satisfaction, interest in online shopping, and brand loyalty. This theme
is underpinned by the fact that, in general, consumers satisfaction with the
Internet is positively associated with their perceptions of effort saved than by
electronic aids (Barnes et al., 2007). At the same time, consumers have a greater
interest in the Internet than in other alternatives (Bickart & Schindler, 2001)
in that their satisfaction and display of brand loyalty positively affects their
shopping behavior (Cowart & Goldsmith, 2007). The latter is encapsulated in the
findings put forward by Hennig-Thurau et al., (2004) when they noted that consumers buying behavior online seems to revolve around their desire for social
interaction, economic incentives, and the potential to enhance self-worth.
The second theme concerns trust, concern with security and reputation of company. Trust is found to be pivotal in Internet buying behavior, and it affects
behavioral intentions (Cho, 2005; Kim & Lee, 2008). This is because low trust
or apprehensiveness regarding Web security is less likely to affect behavioral
intentions (Das et al., 2003; Kuhlmeier & Knight, 2005; Dash & Saji, 2007).

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Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

109

In addition, consumers prefer clarity of information, delivery guarantees, and


easy navigation of companies or offerings Web sites (Xia & Sudharshan, 2002;
Schiffman, Sherman, & Long, 2003; Lee & Lee, 2004; Page-Thomas et al., 2006).
Also, the Web site itself and reputation of the company is a significant antecedent
of online buying behavior (Venkatesh & Agarwal, 2006).
While there appear to be differences between genders (see Zhang, Prybutok, &
Strutton, 2007), other differences are found among online consumers. These
include consumers that purchase online, those that browse online but then purchase in-store, and those that do not shop online at all. However, a content analysis of the literature displayed in Table 2 also reveals that six main consumer
cohorts exist among online consumers. They include: young educated and
demanding people, older online shoppers, experienced online users, and three
kinds of security-conscious consumers (i.e., risk averse, open minded online
shoppers, and information seekers).
From the perspective of the modified model of online consumer behavior and
decision making (see Figure 1), Table 2 provides some indications as to the state
of research pertaining to this area. The focus of most research has been on the link
between the decision process and the external consumer behavior factors impacting that process; however, the areas within the decision process that have been
examined and the types of external factors investigated vary greatly. About 12%
of the studies examined the interrelationships among external factors, primarily
looking at the relationship between online environmental factors and individual
factors. Only one study focused solely on the decision process using an online environment, but it did not measure any factors related to that environment.
Focusing on those studies looking at the link between decision making and
external factors, not a single study examined the parts of the decision-making
process having to do with problem recognition, internal search, consumption, or
disinvestment, and only one study investigated cognitive dissonance. In addition, only three studies examined the belief component of alternative evaluation.
The main focus, by far, fell into the areas of external search (24 studies),
behavioral intentions (22 studies), and purchase (17 studies) components of
the decision-making model, linking these areas primarily with individual
factors and online environmental factors.
With regard to the external consumer behavior components investigated in
those studies linking external factors with the decision-making process, approximately 85% examined the online environment and approximately 75% explored
individual factors, with demographic factors being the most common. Interestingly, only one study considered social factors and only seven analyzed situational
factors.
One area of particular concern is the various ways in which online environmental factors were measured in different studies. For example, Web site satisfaction was measured in some studies by the number of hits on a particular
site, while in other studies it was measured by direct satisfaction questions.
Web experience was measured in some studies by the number of times the
respondent had purchased anything on the Web, while in other studies it was
assumed based on the respondents age (primarily college students). Finally,
Web quality was measured by ease of navigation, convenience, site design, the
amount of information available, or the quality of information available, depending on the study in question. Much of this variation, however, is likely due to the
fact that Internet purchasing has changed tremendously over the past ten, and
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Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

even the past five years. In addition, the level of sophistication of purchasers,
and hence responders, could be very different. Still, it might prove worthwhile
for researchers to investigate various dimensions of the online environment. As
technology changes, the way consumers seek information and make purchases
is likely to change as well.

DISCUSSION, CONCLUSION, AND FUTURE RESEARCH


DIRECTIONS
This paper has adapted the Engel-Kollat-Blackwell model of consumer behavior and decision making as a backdrop in reviewing the empirical research dealing with online consumer behavior and decision-making process. A review of 52
articles suggests that while the focus has been on the linkages between external search, behavioral intentions, and purchase with individual factors and
online environmental factors, there are areas that are still unexplored and that
offer opportunities for further investigation.
As evidenced by the studies reported, there is a scarcity of research that
examines the interactions with and moderators of online decision making. It
appears from this review of a convenience sample of studies that the literature
exploring online consumer behavior and decision making is still in its early
stages of development. Investigations of the constructs in Figure 1 in terms of
online consumer behavior identify convergence and divergence of online and
traditional consumer behavior and the decision-making process. In addition,
there are a number of aspects of the online environment that need clarification.
As technology has changed, the types of environments which are now being
used on many product Web sites have changed as well. There are beginning to
be some similarities in Web site design and functionality, though clearly, advances
in technology will result in new and innovative Web sites in the future. Still, there
should be an examination of the dimensions of the online environment that can
give researchers some level of consistency in measurement. What do we mean
by Web site quality? How do we measure Web site satisfaction? Are there new
dimensions of the Web site environment that have now become vital given the
technological changes in the past five years?
This is not to say that the sole focus should be on technology alone. Clearly,
technology has a huge impact, but there are some authors (Ratchford, Lee, &
Talukdar, 2003) who have proposed that consumer search behavior research
should move beyond a technology-facilitated information access approach to
online information offerings and to reexamine the fundamental purpose behind
consumer information search (see also Grant, Clarke, & Kyriazis, 2007). Furthermore, the emphasis on technology as a focal research point has led to calls
for focusing on the satisfaction of human needs in online consumer behavior
research (Wind & Mahajan, 2002; Porter, 2001; Grant, Clarke, & Kyriazis, 2007).
Such refocusing will contribute to a better understanding of choice decisions
(e.g., products, retail outlets) and of the underpinnings of online consumer behavior and the decision-making process.
Search behavior is likely to be affected by how the individual interacts with
and uses the Internet. Thus, to fully understand the complex interactions, psychological, socio-cultural, and environmental factors ought to be explored. Involvement, product type (e.g., experience vs. search, tangible vs. intangible, semantically
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Psychology & Marketing DOI: 10.1002/mar

111

simple vs. complex, high vs. low risk), personality (e.g., risk aversion, need for closure, need for cognition), knowledge acquisition, information processing, and
belief systems may be important moderators that need to be considered.
Two areas not covered in this review are online auctions and bidding behavior. These are definitely areas worth exploring. Online auctions present a new
domain of consumer decision making and have attracted the attention of consumer
researchers. Whereas an understanding of bidder behavior remains limited, some
fundamental aspects of consumer decision making, such as preference construction
and the impact of choice context, are likely to apply to auctions as they do in regular purchase decision making (Ariely & Simonson, 2003). Research on propensity to bid in online auctions (Bosnjak, Obermeier, & Tuten, 2006) suggests that
the bidding behavior may be moderated by individual difference variables.
In addition, the severe downturn in the economy worldwide, and the corresponding job losses that have resulted, may cause consumers to consider types
and ways of purchasing, such as online purchasing or auctions, which they have
not considered in the past. Thus, research that investigates the moderating role
of individual difference variables, situation variables, economic variables, and
the antecedents of bidding behavior should add to our understanding of online
consumer behavior and decision making.
Obviously, there is much more work to be done to uncover all aspects of online
consumer behavior and the decision-making process. Investigating these topics
from different perspectives or frameworks could add new knowledge to the existing body of knowledge. It is hoped that this review paper will spur future research
in theory development and theory testing unique to online consumer behavior
and the decision-making process, as well as in the testing of traditional consumer behavior theories in an online context. Elaborations and expansions to
include information processing in an online context, online choice behavior,
online learning and knowledge acquisition, and online attitude formation should
be fertile ground for future research. This is consistent with the call by Peterson and Merino (2003) for investigations of consumer information search behavior in the context of the Internet that focus on moderators (e.g., expertise) of
that behavior and interactions among the various antecedents of the behavior.
This is necessary because of the complexities of the Internet and information
search behavior (individually and conjunctively).
In addition, future research could continue to explore the differences in consumers behaviors in the contexts of brick-and-mortar versus online outlets
(Rajamma, Paswan, & Ganesh, 2007). In summary, the findings of this study have
generated theoretical and practical themes that should be of interest to
researchers and practitioners currently engaged in online consumer decision
making (Lokken et al., 2003; Kuhlmeier & Knight, 2005; Kang et al., 2006;
Andrews et al., 2007; Seock & Chen-Yu, 2007). To that end, it seems clear that
there is a need for more research into online consumer behavior and the
decision making processes (Shim et al., 2001; Ha & Perks, 2005; Jepsen, 2007;
Soopramanien & Robertson, 2007).

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