Essays on the Role of Product Characteristics in Information Source Importance
The goal of this dissertation is to contribute to our understanding of relative importance of different information sources that consumers use to guide their purchasing behavior. Specifically, this work aims to model the product characteristics affecting the importance of each information source to consumers as they seek to purchase a given product. Although the extant literature has examined this topic, the efforts have not been cohesive and a comprehensive model of the phenomenon has yet to be developed, limiting our understanding of the topic. Gaining insight into the effects of product characteristics on the importance of different sources of information is significant since such insights may extend our understanding of consumer information search behavior and, ultimately, guide managers’ decisions regarding their allocation of promotional budgets to different information sources. For this reason, examining how product characteristics affect consumers’ perceptions of the importance of different information sources is the focus of this work. ^ Study 1 is an attempt to identify and list all of the factors that affect importance of each source of information in the consumer information search process. A comprehensive review of the extant literature sought to identify the most significant of these factors. The review revealed the insufficient attention paid to the role of product characteristics, and the dominance of the economic and psychological/motivational approaches in this research stream. As a solution, study 1 puts forward a model—the PCM model—that combines product characteristics with the economic and psychological factors as predictors of information source importance, thus offering a new integrated approach to the study of information search behavior. ^ Study 2 extends the investigation in study 1 by identifying the specific product characteristics that affect information source importance, using an exploratory, qualitative approach. To do so, 210 participants were recruited on Amazon MTurk. Participants were asked to rate the relative importance of each information source when gathering information prior to purchasing a named product class. Then, the participants were asked to describe the product characteristics that made them rate the importance of each information source the way that they did. An initial list of 19 product characteristics was then extracted from the respondents’ responses. Next, this list was further refined and developed into a 34-item scale—the Product Characteristic (PC) scale—that can be used to assess any product based on 12 dimensions. ^ In study 3, the PCM model developed in study 1 was put to test to explain the importance of information sources across different product classes. To achieve this goal, 506 respondents were recruited on Amazon MTurk. First, the respondents rated the importance levels of the information sources on a 0-10 scale for a given product, as the dependent variables. Second, they assessed the product’s characteristics, as the independent variables, using the PC scale developed in study 2. Third, the economic and psychological variables identified in study 1 were also measured, as covariates. Finally, the effects of product characteristics, as well as the economic and psychological variables on the importance of information sources were estimated using PLS-SEM. ^
Tajdini, Saeed, "Essays on the Role of Product Characteristics in Information Source Importance" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10275003.