Consumer Influences

by Leonard Wheeler, Sr. Staff WRiter

Consumer behavior may be changing, but consumer emotions are much the same as they have been through the ages.  What motivates us to buy comes from a variety of extrinsic factors:  cultural influences, social class, personal factors and technological aspects are a few significant factors to be mentioned and discussed due to the increased use of the Internet.  Products come and go with fads and niches; what has changed in the last decade is “service.”  The Internet has changed the buying and purchasing procedure with a majority of people and has changed shopping for many who are now influenced by the service of “the online store.”

The buying experience for online shoppers in the “online store experience.”  Online shoppers purchase with many of the same influences, however the service is now a “click” rather than “May I help you?”  On the other hand, the website still needs to meet the needs of the shopper and still must play to the factors that influence buyers.  In many ways, websites are not marketing tools, just like billboards, commercials and other advertisements.  Every factor that applies to consumer psychology applies to the service provided on the website.  This is so significant that now web developers are titling their “shopping carts” as they were initially called, to “online stores” and the home page of buying is often referred to as the storefront.

The online service experience is emotional and develops the provision of services in a methodical and technological way.  Web developers satisfy their customers by relating their extrinsic needs using five basic techniques.

  1. The User Interface Quality – This is the Site Layout, Navigation, Sequence and Convenience of the experience.   Style, beauty, color, coolness, chic and natural can all be featured.   This leads to satisfying the need for Product Information.
  2. Product Information Quality – What is the perceived value?  The online store has the ability to offer the bargain due to lack of paper, retail rent and retail overhead.  Online shoppers expect this.  To drive the reference groups and the cultural and social factors, writing, photography and ad tags must all be very competitive and top-notch.
  3. Service Information Quality – To reduce the anxiety of the sale and increase the perception of security the online occurrence must clearly have contact information, return policy information and possibly instant service help like online chat.
  4. Security Perception – How safe is the financial section of the purchase? 1) How authentic is the site?  Does it have a merchant account (Visa, MasterCard, Discover) and 2) Where is the online data stored
  5. Site Awareness – How will the site be found?  Reference groups, cultural and local influences like Word of Mouth and social class are very important in this aspect.  If the online store can create a bargain with security and product quality then the consumer will “need” to purchase from the site and become a “client” or browser and shopper of the site.

Ideally, the online store developer desires to create a relationship based on their superior service and great bargains when compared to the typical shopping experience.  A study at the Institute of Science & Technology in Seoul, Korea found that consumer’s commitment to an online purchase was related to their satisfaction with the information on the site. The second factor was related to the perceived security on the site. (Park, et. al. 2003)  Perceived security is an influence of awareness and education.  Even families are guarded with their identities and children’s online shopping.  Many parents are very aware of the dangers in security with kid’s shopping on the Internet; this is not true just for goods and services, but also when  shopping for games or aps.

Do the extrinsic factors of family, reference groups and culture affect the services of online shopping in a positive way or with negative influence?  Internet shopping has a set of demands to meet consumer demands created by the infrastructure of technology.  The reasons why people shop on the Internet are different than the reasons that people visit the storefront.  With an in-store experience, there is some type of contact with sales people and on the Internet shopping is private.  Many people like this.

This online shopping experience gains influence by pressure of reference groups in a positive and negative way.  The buyer culture is impulsive and dramatic.  Shoppers have emotional attachment about the way in which they purchase.  Some shoppers do not want to be bothered by the influence of the sales people; these people make good Internet shoppers.  Other shoppers want their purchase immediately; they make better storefront shoppers.  Web developers are very aware of these differences and will set up the Online Store to counter the shoppers who need to be satisfied immediately.  Online stores can do this by offering the big “bargains” making the experience about value rather than pure emotional satisfaction.  Many online stores offer next day delivery or two-day delivery for free.  Websites like Overstock “O” and 123Bargains, Mommysavesbig all play to the fast, secure service while encouraging the discount.

Shop at home history has become one of the most popular ways to shop.  QVC, HSN and ShopNBC are examples of the rise.  In this case the storefront is the television (with added note that you can shop online.)  In 2004, HSN placed 50 million sales with 18% of sales on the Internet; QVC shipped 138 million with 13% of sales from the Internet.  The return rates average around 15%. (ShopviaTV, 2005)  These sites all boost consumer confidence with their TV presence, which lends a specific appeal of cultural enticement, social class advertisement and reference groups.  The live models chat constantly about all three of these extrinsic factors.  The websites are well laid out with the same models that are on TV.  The designers can be found on the links adding significance and value to the purchase.  The companies ship fast and efficiently.

Online stores save people time and money.  They do not have to get in the car and many offer reduced shipping as incentive.  The marketing techniques employed by these discount shopping sites prevail in convincing the consumer that their decision is in sych with the extrinsic with the consumer emotions.

Park, Chung-Hoon and Kim, Young-Gul.  Identifying key factors affecting consumer purchase behavior in an online shopping context. Institute of Science & Technology, Seoul, Korea.  (2003). Retrieved from:

ShopviaTV, Welcome – Profile of HSN, QVC and ShopNBC. (2005) Retrieved from: