Purpose – The ability to acquire and process consumer information online has provided web‐based vendors with the ability to personalize their merchandising at a very low cost. However, empirically establishing the expected positive effect of personalized merchandising has been difficult for practical as well as financial reasons. The aim of this paper is to compare the effectiveness of personalized vs random merchandising on consumers' attitudes and behaviors. Design/methodology/approach – A longitudinal subject experiment comparing standardized vs personalized merchandising was adopted. A fictitious web site was created for the purposes of the study. Findings – Personalized items led to more clicks than random suggestions. Moreover, a positive attitude towards personalization enhanced the attitude towards the web site. Research limitations/implications – Even if credibility was enhanced thanks to the web site design, the research suffered from a lack of external validity. Additionally, the procedure prevented us from observing any potential effect on basket size. Practical implications – A strategy of personalizing the content appeared to be relevant for web site managers. They should use “close” recommendations rather than “broad” recommendations and present a moderate number of personalized suggestions. Originality/value – The research is one of the few online experiments with a longitudinal perspective, which is considered necessary when studying consumers' reactions to the personalization “process”.
Direct Marketing: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 27, 2009
Keywords: Consumer behaviour; Internet; Customer loyalty
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