attention to price in social commerce

attention to price in social commerce

Consumer attention to price in social commerce: Eye tracking patterns inretail clothing☆R.G. Vishnu Menon a,⁎, Valdimar Sigurdsson a, Nils Magne Larsen b, Asle Fagerstrøm c, Gordon R. Foxall da Reykjavik University, Menntavegur 1, Nautholsvik, 101 Reykjavik, Icelandb UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Campus Harstad, N-9480 Harstad, Norwayc Westerdals Oslo School of Arts, Communication and Technology, Schweigaardsgate 14, 0185 Oslo, Norwayd Cardiff University, Aberconway Building, Colum Dr, Cardiff CF10 3EU, United Kingdoma r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c tArticle history: Received 1 February 2016Received in revised form 1 March 2016Accepted 1 April 2016Available online 5 May 2016Although the literature establishes the importance of pricing in relation to traditional retailers and e-commerce, few studies consider its importance in social commerce. This study uses eye-tracking to examine observational behavior as fixation time on price and the total fixation time on a Facebook page that displays clothing products.This study employs interventions both directly related (via different prices of clothes and price visibility) and indirectly related (via human models vs. mannequins) to the price label. Results show a U-shape function for fixations on price and total fixations on a page with respect to price for females who buy for themselves andmales who buy for their partners. This finding points not only to the utilitarian position of price, but also toits informational role. This study introduces a conceptual framework for further research, focused on themechanisms through which social commerce can lead to increased sales and profits.© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).Keywords:Social commerceF-commercePriceAttentionEye trackingRetail clothing1. IntroductionSocial commerce is a business activity—social media platforms suchas Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest mediate this activity andallow people to participate in the marketing, selling, comparison, buying,and sharing of products and services (Zhang, Zhou, & Zimmermann,2013). Currently, social media has the potential to bring direct economicvalue to retailers as a result of transaction-based social commerceactivities. For example, a Facebook storefront provides retailers withan additional outlet for promotion and sales opportunities and manyretail-clothing companies have begun to exploit this channel to sellproducts (Kang & Johnson, 2015), which gives rise to “f-commerce.”F-commerce is a form of social commerce that by definition usesFacebook as a platform to facilitate and execute sales transactions(Kang & Johnson, 2015).Although clothing retailers have adopted social media such asFacebook to a great extent as an extra promotional screen and even as asales platform, the clothing industry—in contrast with other sectors—hasbeen slower to adopt online commerce in general (Sender, 2011).Consumers often characterize clothing as a “feel-and-touch product”that requires high sensory evaluation and/or trial to judge its quality(Kim & Kim, 2004), and for this reason, online clothing shoppingenvironments are understandably less efficient than traditional retailstores in the provision of such opportunities to the consumer. Such limitations of online environments would increase the relative importanceof those attributes attached to a product offer that are more perceptibleto the consumers’ eyes. Price, as one such attribute, attracts consumersto online stores and is among those attributes that ensures they return(Reibstein, 2002). However, with regard to the overall relationshipbetween price and demand, the findings in the literature are notstraightforward (e.g., Gijsbrechts, 1993; Somervuori, 2014). Theeconomics and marketing literature widely acknowledges price tohave attractive as well as aversive effects on demand (Gaur & Fisher,2005; Rao, 2005; Rao & Monroe, 1988), and considers that price affectsconsumer choice both as a budget constraint and as a signal of subjective quality (Sigurdsson, Foxall, & Saevarsson, 2010; Zeithaml, 1988).Studies show that price has a negative effect on perceived value andwillingness to buy (Dodds, Monroe, & Grewal, 1991). However, pricingcan also increase both perceived effectiveness and the actual efficacy ofproducts, as Shiv, Carmon, and Ariely (2005) demonstrate. This lack ofconsistency in the effects of price on consumer behavior warrantsfurther empirical study in an online environment, especially as pricingbecomes a more salient product attribute as customers cannot touch,Journal of Business Research 69 (2016) 5008–5013☆ The authors thank Ólafur Þór Gylfason, CEO of MMR (Market and Media Research),Iceland for providing the eye tracking device and Hildur Einarsdóttir for her assistance inconducting the research. The authors also thank the GIKA anonymous reviewers fortheir careful reading and suggestions.⁎ Corresponding author.E-mail addresses: rgvishnu@ru.is (R.G.V. Menon), valdimars@ru.is (V. Sigurdsson),nils.magne.larsen@uit.no (N.M. Larsen), fagasl@westerdals.no (A. Fagerstrøm),foxall@cardiff.ac.uk (G.R. Foxall).http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2016.04.0720148-2963/© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).Contents lists available at ScienceDirectJournal of Business Researchfeel, or try on different products (clothes in this research) online.The literature devotes insufficient attention to this aspect of socialcommerce practice.Retailers that display items on social media platforms must haveknowledge of pricing, combined with data on the consumer’s visualattention to price, in particular. A consumer’s brain relies on visualattention to process effectively the vast amount of information that aweb promotional site presents. Neuroimaging studies, for instance,identify the units of visual information that an individual selects forattention (Kanwisher & Wojciulik, 2000). Several studies demonstratea strong connection between visual attention and eye movements (fora review see Orquin & Loose, 2013). However, the existing researchdoes not pay sufficient attention to the interaction effect between twodifferent processes in visual attention, namely goal-driven andstimulus-driven attention (Orquin & Loose, 2013). For example, studiesinadequately explore the impact of stimulus-driven factors such assaliency (display methods) and position on goal-driven variables likeutility (price) from a social commerce perspective.Although the literature establishes the importance of pricing inrelation to traditional retailers and e-commerce (Fagerstrøm &Ghinea, 2011), researchers do not sufficiently consider the issue ofpricing within social commerce practice. This study aims to fill thisgap through an examination of the effect of stimulus-driven factors onconsumers’ attention to goal-driven variables such as price in a socialcommerce setting, and uses an eye tracking methodology for thispurpose. In line with Menon and Sigurdsson’s (2015) study, which confirms the primacy of price for shoppers on Facebook, this study seeks todetermine how direct (price-related variables) and indirect (displaymethods) interventions with price affects consumers’ attention toprice and total time on a page. Eye tracking methodology allowsresearchers to study the behavioral-environmental processes behind apurchase more effectively. Furthermore, this methodology providesreal-time information on consumers’ fixations and visualizationpatterns (Vila & Gomez, 2015). The present study adopts the approachof inductive reasoning in which researchers create and analyze largedatasets from eye tracking data to identify patterns and then build amodel to develop hypotheses in future studies. The structure of thepaper is as follows. First, Section 2 reviews the relevant literature thatconsiders attention to price at various price points, the effect of pricevisibility on attention to price, and finally, the effect of display methodson attention to price. Section 3 and Section 4 present the methodologyand findings. Sections 5 and 6 conclude the paper with a discussion onacademic and practical implications, the development of a conceptualframework, and directions for future research.2. Theoretical background2.1. The effect of price points on attention to priceConsumers base their purchase choice on what they learn from previous experiences (Monroe & Lee, 1999) and tend to gaze at information with greater importance to their choice (Orquin & Loose, 2013).Previous studies show that attributes with greater importance to thechoice maker receive more fixations (Glöckner, Fiedler, Hochman,Ayal, & Hilbig, 2012; Meißner & Decker, 2010; Su, Rao, Li, Wang, & Li,2012). Wagner (2007) suggests that many consumers who shop forapparel seem to look explicitly for low prices; however, in price-drivenmotivation, consumers seek reasonable prices, which need not be thelowest, comparatively, but which fall within a moderate range of prices.Wagner (2007) concludes that apparel shoppers appear to be priceconscious and are attracted to retail prices that are not too high whencompared with other market offers. Studies by Meißner and Decker(2010) and Sütterlin, Brunner, and Opwis (2008) also find that anattention-attribute importance relationship follows a U-shape curve,with more fixations on low and high importance attribute levels.2.2. The effect of price visibility on attention to priceResearch on attention to goal-driven stimuli such as price offers acrucial finding that task relevance is contingent on task demands(Orquin & Loose, 2013). Since task relevance is the primary driver ofgoal-driven attention (Navalpakkam & Itti, 2005; Sprague, Ballard, &Robinson, 2007), several studies investigate task-specific effects on attention (Glaholt, Wu, & Reingold, 2010; Glöckner et al., 2012; Toubia,de Jong, Stieger, & Füller, 2012) and their results show that people payincreased attention to goal-relevant stimuli. Hence, this study assumesthat price visibility is a crucial factor that affects attention. Consumersgenerally tend to read from left to right and from top to bottom,which fact inspired several studies on position effects such as the listposition effect (Chandon, Hutchinson, Bradlow, & Young, 2009; Shi,Wedel, & Pieters, 2013) and the central position effect (Chandon et al.,2009; Glaholt et al., 2010; Lohse, 1997; Shi et al., 2013).2.3. The effect of model/mannequin presence on attention to priceDisplays are a very important element of online clothing merchandising, as most of the time, either a model or a mannequin displaysthe clothes. Several previous studies investigate the impact of humanimages/celebrity endorsements on consumer behavior, both in offline(e.g. Felix & Borges, 2014, Silvera & Austad, 2004) and online (Chae &Lee, 2013; Cyr, Head, Larios, & Pan, 2009; Djamasbi, Siegel, & Tullis,2010) environments. Importantly, these studies find that faces attractconsumers’ visual attention more than any other visual stimuli, or atthe expense of other visual stimuli (Bindemann, Burton, Hooge,Jenkins, & de Haan, 2005; Cerf, Harel, Einhäuser, & Koch, 2008;Palermo & Rhodes, 2007). Though sparsely, some studies consider theeffect of mannequins on shopping behavior (Fiore, Yah, & Yoh, 2000;Kerfoot, Davies, & Ward, 2003; Law, Wong, & Yip, 2012; Lindstrom,Berg, Nordfalt, Roggeveen, & Grewal, 2015; Oh & Petrie, 2012; Sen,Block, & Chandran, 2002). These studies show that the presence of amannequin affects purchase intention and willingness to pay, storeentry decision, and consumers’ imagination in seeing themselves inthe clothing displayed. However, few studies consider the effect ofdisplay methods (such as models and mannequins displayed on firms’social media sites), and consumers’ attention patterns (in terms offirst fixation and fixation time) that specifically focus on price in anonline context.3. Method3.1. Participants, setting, and productThe study collaborated with a clothing retailer that uses a Facebookpage as its primary shopping website through which consumers canorder a product via phone or email. The products are trendy andfashionable and are not limited to clothes, although this study focusedon clothes as they constitute the majority of the products available.The study used ladies’ clothing displayed by the retailer on its Facebookpage as the target product. The retailer provided the pictures of thesedresses. The study selected participants randomly from a studentpopulation. The sample consisted of 34 European students (16 menand 18 women). The study measured participants’ ages in five categories (b20, 21–30, 31–40, 41–50 and N50). One participant belonged tothe b20 category, 18 belonged to the 21–30 category, 11 to the 31–40category, three to the 41–50 category, and one belonged to the N50category.3.2. Design and procedureAt the onset of the study, an instruction slide asked the participants togo through a number of pictures on the Facebook page of the companyunder study. Each participant received a total of 25 pictures in differentR.G.V. Menon et al. / Journal of Business Research 69 (2016) 5008–5013 5009combinations. The independent variables for the study were price points,position of price, and the presence of a known model or a mannequin.The dependent variables were the fixation time on price and the totalfixation time on the page. The study used Tobii Studio 1.3 software andTobii 1750 eye trackers to analyze the behavioral processes that occurwhen respondents selectively notice one aspect over the others.4. ResultsThe eye tracking study excluded three participants due to incomplete information; data from the 31 other participants yielded a totalof 775 data points. Fig. 1 shows a plot for the fixation length on pricefor males and females across different prices. The figure shows thatthe fixation length on price decreases as prices increase from ISK 5900to ISK 11900 and then gradually increases with price, and reaches itshighest point at ISK 15900. A statistically significant main effect existsfor price points, F (7, 728) = 5.65, p = 0.00; however, the effect sizeis small (partial eta squared = 0.05). The interaction effect betweengender and price is not statistically significant, F (7, 728) = 0.93, p =0.48. Post-hoc comparisons through the Tukey HSD test indicate thatthe mean score for the price ISK 5900 (M = 0.57, SD = 0.37) and theprice ISK 6900 (M = 0.54, SD = 0.47) are significantly different fromthat for the price ISK 11900 (M = 0.33, SD = 0.34). Similarly, themean scores for both the price ISK 10900 (M = 0.35, SD = 0.35) andthe price ISK 11900 (M = 0.33, SD = 0.34) are significantly differentfrom those for the prices ISK 15900 (M = 0.58, SD = 0.40) and ISK17900 (M = 0.56, SD = 0.37).Fig. 2 shows a plot for the total fixation length on page across different prices for males and females. The figure shows clearly that the totalfixation length on page decreases as prices increase from ISK 5900 to ISK11900. The total fixation length then gradually increases as pricesincrease and reaches its highest point at ISK 17900. A statisticallysignificant main effect exists for price points, F (7, 728) = 9.11, p =0.00; however, the effect size is medium (partial eta squared = 0.08).The interaction effect between gender and price is not statisticallysignificant, F (7, 728) = 1.14, p = 0.34. Post-hoc comparisons withthe Tukey HSD test indicate that the mean score for the price ISK 5900(M = 2.18, SD = 0.64) are significantly different from that for theprice ISK 11900 (M = 1.69, SD = 0.55). Similarly, the mean score forthe price ISK 11900 (M = 1.69, SD = 0.55) is significantly differentfrom that for the prices ISK 13900 (M = 2.04, SD = 0.65) and ISK17900 (M = 2.42, SD = 0.78). In addition, the mean score for theprice ISK 12900 (M = 1.89, SD = 0.63) is significantly different fromthat for the price ISK 17900 (M = 2.42, SD = 0.78).Fig. 3 shows, for males and females, the mean total fixation time onthe page and the mean fixation time on price for different price visibility. The study conducts independent samples t-tests to compare themean scores of fixation length on price and total fixation length on apage with respect to price visibility for males as well as females. Theresults for females show a significant difference in scores for pricesplaced along with the picture (M = 0.62, SD = 0.37) and for pricesplaced below company details (M = 0.35, SD = 0.34); t (430) = 6.19,p = 0.00, two-tailed). Further, Cohen’s effect size value (d = 0.6)suggests moderate to high practical significance. Results for males showa significant difference in scores for prices placed along with the picture(M = 0.76, SD = 0.38) and for prices placed below company details(M = 0.32, SD = 0.31); t (310) = 9.57, p = 0.00, two-tailed). Cohen’seffect size value (d = 1.1) suggests a very high practical significance.With respect to total fixation length on a page, the results for femalesshow no significant difference in scores for prices placed along with thepicture (M = 1.81, SD = 0.60) and for prices placed below companyFig. 1. Fixation length on price across different prices; the solid line represents femaleparticipants and the dotted line, male participants.Fig. 2. Total fixation length on page across different prices; the solid line represents femaleparticipants and the dotted line, male participants.Fig. 3. Total fixation time and the fixation time on price with respect to price visibility formales and females. The solid line connects points that represent the mean total fixationlength, and the dotted line connects points that represent the mean fixation length onprice.5010 R.G.V. Menon et al. / Journal of Business Research 69 (2016) 5008–5013details (M = 1.74 SD = 0.65); t (430) = 0.89, p = 0.38, two-tailed).However, the results for males show a significant difference in scoresfor prices placed along with the picture (M = 2.42, SD = 0.50) andfor prices placed below company details (M = 2.03 SD = 0.56);t (310) = 0.75, p = 0.00, two-tailed). Cohen’s effect size value (d =0.60) suggests a moderate to high practical significance.Fig. 4 provides mean total fixation time and mean fixation time onthe price label for pictures with model and mannequin, respectively.The study conducts independent samples t-tests to compare the meanscores of fixation length on price and total fixation length on a pagewith respect to the presence of a model/mannequin for males as wellas females.With respect to fixation time on price, the results for females showno significant difference between the scores for the presence of aknown model (M = 0.39, SD = 0.38) and for a mannequin (M = 0.39,SD = 0.35); t (430) = 0.06, p = 0.95, two-tailed). The results formales show no significant difference between the scores for the presence of a known model (M = 0.39, SD = 0.35) and for a mannequin(M = 0.43, SD = 0.39); t (310) = -0.93, p = 0.35, two-tailed). Withrespect to total fixation length on a page, the results for females showno significant difference between the scores for the presence of aknown model (M = 1.69, SD = 0.64) and for a mannequin (M = 1.79,SD = 0.64); t (448) = -1.61, p = 0.11, two-tailed). The results formales, however, show a significant difference between the scores forthe presence of a known model (M = 2.29, SD = 0.49) and for a mannequin (M = 1.93, SD = 0.58); t (323) = 6.11, p = 0.00, two-tailed).Cohen’s effect size value (d = 0.7) suggests a moderate to high practicalsignificance.5. DiscussionThis research investigates the attention of consumers to price of retail clothing in an f-commerce setting. The study incorporates variousinterventions such as different price points, price visibility, and the presence of a model vs. mannequin, to assess their impact on the attentionto price through the use of an eye tracking device. The empirical resultsshow a U-shape curve for males and females with low and high pricesboth significantly different from medium prices. The results also revealthat consumers have a fixation on price not only on the basis of the priceitself, but also on the basis of stimulus-driven variables such as position(in this case price visibility) and saliency (model/mannequin).Participants tend to gaze at information that has greater salience totheir choice (Orquin & Loose, 2013). The U-shape curve this studyobtains validates this statement and suggests that consumers fixatemore on those prices that are relevant to their goal of dress purchase.However, a low fixation on price for the mid-range prices does notnecessarily mean that the consumers did not consider them in theirchoice decisions (see Monroe & Lee, 1999). These results provideinsights for retailers on the effect of different price points on consumerattention when they make a purchase in a social media environment.Future research could investigate the effect of different prices onvariables such as recallable price knowledge, deal spotting, and evenits effect on sales. Researchers need to investigate the ways in whichthe pricing issue differs between social commerce settings and generale-commerce, as well as differences among the various social commerceplatforms (e.g., Facebook vs. Twitter).This study explores the visibility of price through the placement ofthe price label on the left, along with the picture of a model/mannequin,and on the right, below the company details. Knowledge acquired fromfunctional brain imaging studies seems to suggest that humans directattention toward a specific spatial location. Therefore, the study expectsthat a price tag placed near or on the picture of the model/mannequinwould receive a higher fixation length compared with a price tag placedin a spatial location further away from an object that draws visual attention. The findings confirm this expectation and show that for males aswell as females, placement of this information on the left along withthe picture rather than on the right below the company details resultsin significantly higher fixation on price. Thus, retailers can probably enhance the perception of a stimulus through placement near an attention“magnet,” that is, the spatial location of an object that captures consumer attention. Further research could explore different price positioningeffects in combination with different visual aspects.Many studies consider the effect of saliency on attention (e.g. Lohse,1997, Milosavljevic, Navalpakkam, Koch, & Rangel, 2012). This studyfocuses on images of models/mannequins as a salient attribute andstudies the effect of their presence on the attention to price. The findingsshow no significant difference in the fixation on price when retailersdisplay clothes on a model or on a mannequin. However, males have ahigher total fixation length on a page that displays a model than onone that shows mannequins. The results imply that a picture of amodel (with facial features) might represent a higher human conditionon a Facebook page compared with a mannequin (without facial features), with a lesser representation of the human condition. Neuroimaging studies on visual attention on faces (Cerf et al., 2008; Kanwisher,McDermott, & Chun, 1997) and the attention bias study byBindemann et al. (2005) also provide some explanation for this result.The results also indicate that attention may be drawn to a particularattribute both directly—in this case by manipulating price and itsposition—and indirectly, by manipulating other salient variables onthe site. Most clothing retailers focus on image-conscious consumersthrough displays that incorporate thin mannequins and slender models.Further research could explore the effect of model or mannequin picture size and its impact on fixation length, purchase intention, and sales.6. ConclusionTable 1 shows a summary of conclusions and suggestions for futureresearch. The findings show that researchers can analyze consumers’needs in terms of attributes or stimuli with different consequencesand then focus consumers’ attention toward the main attributes bothdirectly and indirectly. In addition to implications for retailers, the results of this study provide a useful theoretical contribution with respectto consumers’ attention to price as they shop on social media platforms.The results of this study imply that retailers can draw consumers’ attention to price directly through manipulation of the price points andprice position (visibility) or indirectly through the use of a salient attribute such as a model/mannequin. The study proposes a researchFig. 4. Total fixation time and fixation on price for pictures with model and mannequin formales and females. The solid line connects points that represent the mean total fixationlength, and the dotted line connects points that represent the mean fixation length onprice.R.G.V. Menon et al. / Journal of Business Research 69 (2016) 5008–5013 5011framework (see Fig. 5) to examine the determinants of consumer attention to price.Through the use of this framework, further research could explorethe effect of additional variables such as surface size, consumercomments, online advertisements, number of pictures of the item, orany other relevant variables on different social media platforms.Researchers should not limit the analysis itself to fixation length onprice, but should explore other measurements such as time to firstfixation, fixation count, and observation length. Several intermediaryvariables act upon consumers’ attention to price. These include, butare not limited to gender, age, Internet usage, and Facebook usage.Further research could explore the interaction effect of this variableson attention to price. Attention to price is an important measure forretailers. Knowledge as to how consumers fixate on price can provideimportant insights for retailers with regard to the effectiveness of theirpricing strategies, and even their marketing campaigns, through directconnections between consumer attention and sales. The frameworkonly shows observational behavior with respect to attention on price.Future research could extend this through an analysis of fixation onadditional areas of interest such as likes, comments, or advertisements.ReferencesBindemann, M., Burton, A. M., Hooge, I. T., Jenkins, R., & de Haan, E. H. F. (2005). Facesretain attention. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 12(6), 1048–1053. http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/BF03206442.Cerf, M., Harel, J., Einhäuser, W., & Koch, C. (2008). Predicting human gaze using low-levelsaliency combined with face detection. In J. C. Platt, D. Koller, Y. Singer, & S. T. Roweis(Eds.), Advances in neural information processing systems, 20. Neural informationprocessing systems. 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The text marked in italics shows the variables that this study has not tested, but which future research could use.Table 1Summary of conclusions and avenues for future research.Study details Findings Future researchEffect of different price points onprice fixationU-shape curve for males as well as females with low and high pricesboth significantly different from medium pricesInvestigate the impact of price points on variables such as purchaseintention, perceived quality, recallable price knowledge, dealspotting, and sales.Test the impact of price on different social commerce platforms and for different industries.Examine price relative to the competitors.Effect of price visibility (position)on price fixationMales and females both have a significantly higher fixation on price when price is placed along with the picture than when placed on the right, along with company details and likes.Explore different price positionings and their effects on price visibility.Presence of model/mannequin and its impact on price fixationMales and females both show no significant difference on fixation on price for the presence of a model or mannequin.Investigate the impact of a model/mannequin with respect to other variables such as purchase intention and sales.General suggestions for future research: Future studies could expand the sample size, utilize more representative groups, and incorporate more dependent variables such as fixation on likes, comments, and ads. 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