Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Environmental Stimuli and User Experience in Online Customer Communities: A Focus on Flow and Behavioural Response

Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Environmental Stimuli and User Experience in Online Customer Communities: A Focus on Flow and Behavioural Response

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Developments in information technology, Web 2.0 in particular, have given rise to a new form of e-commerce known as social commerce (Hajli, 2013: 144). Social commerce refers to the use of social media to conduct commerce-related activities. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010: 61) defined social media as "internet based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content". Online customer community sites are one of the increasingly popular platforms for social commerce. As observed by Manchanda, Packard and Pattabhiramaiah (2015: 367), business firms make increasing use of online communities to promote social interactions between themselves and their customers, as well as among customers themselves. In doing so they are able to get closer to their markets and to collect information that customers share on their sites (Mortazavi, Esfidani and Barzoki, 2014: 103). Apart from company-sponsored online customer communities, there are also some online customer communities that are independently owned and managed (Manchanda et al., 2015: 367). Independently managed communities, unlike companysponsored ones, often attract discussions on products and services offered by a wide range of companies.

Whether an online community is company-managed or independently managed, it is in the interest of those tasked with managing such sites to ensure that they are able to provide users with a compelling user experience. Schmitt and Zarantoneloo (2013: 26) pointed out that understanding the consumer experience is core to marketing. They noted that this is because having insights into the consumption experience and into the factors influencing the experience are critical to ensuring that marketers are able to develop or facilitate the development of offers that customers are likely to find alluring. Furthermore, provision of compelling consumer experience provides an opportunity for effective differentiation of one's offering from those of competitors (Gronholdt, Martensen, Jorgensen and Jensen, 2015: 91; Dong and Siu, 2013: 542). While this is so, Schmitt and Zarantoneloo (2013: 26) observed that the concept of experience is not well-established empirically in the domains of consumer behaviour and marketing. Martin, Mortimer and Andrews (2015: 82) noted that research, particularly in the area of online consumer experience, is underdeveloped, and called for more research that can help bring about a better understanding of the concept.

Taking cognisance of the growing popularity of online community sites in social commerce, this study contributes to the advancement of knowledge of consumer experience in such contexts. In addressing the concept of consumer experience in online customer communities, this study focuses on flow experience. 'Flow' denotes a state of optimal psychological experience that one can have when engaged in an activity (Hsu, Chang and Chen, 2012: 317). O'Cass and Carlson (2010: 116) pointed out that flow is an important concept that should not be neglected when trying to understand the provision of online consumption experience that is compelling. While this is so, not much is known about providing optimal website user experiences in customer networking sites (Mortazavi et al., 2014: 104). Furthermore, what constitutes a proper conceptualisation of flow experience in general remains a contested issue in the literature (Zha, Zhang, Yan and Wang, 2015: 43, Zhou, 2013: 264). This study addresses these gaps by examining flow experience in online customer communities, and the environmental factors that influence such experiences. Mendonca, Mishra and Dash (2015: 399) noted that, in understanding the quality of an experience, it is important to bear in mind that experience involves interaction between the environment and a person, which then produces outcomes.

This study also investigates the influence that flow experience has on the behavioural response of users of such sites, focusing specifically on commitment intentions towards online customer communities. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.