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‘Buy now or Cry later’. Do scarcity messages work in online shopping? : an investigation into the functionality of scarcity as an online persuasion measure within the fashion and travel industry.

Klaver, L.C.J.H. (2015) ‘Buy now or Cry later’. Do scarcity messages work in online shopping? : an investigation into the functionality of scarcity as an online persuasion measure within the fashion and travel industry.

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Abstract:The infinite possibilities of the internet and its immense accessibility to users all over the world has made the internet an extension of the offline world. Due to the fact that the internet reaches that many people, the medium has become very popular for commercial purposes. Many retailers and service providers joined the trend and started online selling activities (Lohse, Bellman and Johnson, 2000). Companies are challenged to adapt to the new online environment and to make their online business work with adequately managed marketing communications and sales techniques. Selling often requires persuasion attempts, also when it concerns online selling. Therefore, this research aims to take a closer look at the usage and effectiveness of the principle of scarcity as a persuasion measure. Whereas scarcity messages are presented to the consumer frequently in online shopping, especially in both the fashion and travel industry, no existing literature empirically advocates for the effectiveness of online scarcity. Although it can be argued that online scarcity functions the same as offline scarcity, specific internet characteristics may influence the intention to purchase and the perceived product value. Especially the consumer’s possibility to search for alternatives by high levels of information transparency offered by the internet could negatively affect the purchase intention and the perceived product value if consumers are willing to invest time before they make the actual purchase decision. Also, three moderator factors were proposed by literature and therefore included in this study; exposure to online marketing techniques, and personality traits ‘need for uniqueness’ and ‘need for cognitive closure’. 156 consumers participated in an experiment in which scarcity appeals are tested in two different product categories. The results show differences among the tested product categories. Whereas a positive relationship between online scarcity and perceived product value was significant for the holiday, a negative relationship between decision time and purchase intention was found. None of the proposed modulating variables did have an effect on the relationship between scarcity and perceived product value. The results imply that there is empirical evidence for online effectiveness of a scarcity message to stimulate sales, yet only for the holiday that was presented. This means that online scarcity seems not to be effective for all product categories. Furthermore, the decision time negatively affects the purchase intention, which could potentially be explained by the ease to search for alternative products online. Hence, it is suggested that the frequent use of scarcity messages by online retailers is ungrounded and the actual functioning of the sales technique should be questioned and further examined for more product categories.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/68613
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