Academic journal article International Management Review

Impact of Utilitarian and Hedonic Shopping Values on Individual's Perceived Benefits and Risks in Online Shopping

Academic journal article International Management Review

Impact of Utilitarian and Hedonic Shopping Values on Individual's Perceived Benefits and Risks in Online Shopping

Article excerpt


An individual's overall perceived shopping value has two dimensions - utilitarian and hedonic. Utilitarian shopping value relates to the functional aspects of the shopping context. Hedonic shopping value is derived from the perceived fun or playfulness of the shopping. An individual also assumes some benefits and risks in any shopping context. The e-shopping tendency is increasing rapidly among buyers across the world, which is the focus of this study. This study investigates how the individual buyer's perceived benefits and risks in e-shopping are influenced by his or her perceived utilitarian or hedonic shopping values.

[Keywords] online shopping; utilitarian shopping value; hedonic shopping value; perceived benefits in online shopping; perceived risks in online shopping


Traditional research in the field of consumer behavior have been started by drawing concepts from the field of cognitive psychology and the concepts of utilitarian shopping value, which came from the research conducted mainly in the field of micro-economics and classical decision theory (Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982 a). The utilitarian perspective assumes the buyer as a logical problem solver. However, a group of researchers have analyzed shopping from a different perspective. They focused on the emotional and irrational aspects of individual buying behavior. Ernest Dichter (1947) pioneered this research tradition, which is known as motivation research (Sheth et al., 1988; pp.109-126). The basic assumption underlying this research tradition is that consumers made product or brand choices for emotional reasons deeply rooted in their psychology. This motivation research stream heavily relied on "Freudian psychology" (Sigmund, 1953). This stream of research was strongly criticized by the scholars who advocated rational buying behavior models.

During the decades of 60s and 70s, research in emotional and irrational buying was ignored to a certain extent (Sheth et al., 1988; pp.109-126). Again, this research tradition emerged in the decade of 80s, as Zuckerman invented the scale to measure individual sensation seeking in 1979. An individual's overall attitude towards any brand has distinct hedonic and utilitarian dimensions (B atra & Ahtola, 1990). However, they have stated that the relative dominance of either of the dimensions varies across brands.

Today, one can find two basic formats of shopping: store format and non-store format. Nowadays, more and more shoppers are purchasing online in order to save time and maximize their convenience instead of physically visiting a store (Dholakia et al., 2002). The internet has become a significant means for carrying out commercial transactions. Today, more than one-half of the airline reservations are made through the internet, and online sales reached $30 billion during the 2005 holiday session, up 30% from 2004 (Pew Internet, 2005; Nielsen & NetRatings, 2005). The objective of the present study is to investigate the impact of these individual shopping values on an individual's perceived benefits and risks in the online shopping context.

Literature Review

Utilitarian and Hedonic Shopping Values

Utilitarian buying motives include convenience-seeking, variety seeking, searching for quality of merchandise, and reasonable price rate, etc. On the other hand, hedonic buying motives are related to emotional needs of individuals for enjoyable and interesting shopping experiences (Bhatnagar & Ghosh, 2004). Holbrook & Hirschman (1982a) have stated that in traditional information processing buying model the buyer is a rational decision maker wanting to maximize utility by focusing on tangible benefits of the product. According to this model, purchasing has been viewed as a problemsolving activity in which consumer moves through a series of logical steps. Hedonic consumption involves emotional arousal taking place while purchasing or consuming (Holbrook & Hirschman, 1982 b). …

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