Companies are challenged to shift production and marketing strategies from focusing on market segments to making individually customized offers. Mass customization, however, leads to a tremendous extension of the configuration possibilities and in turn choice. As a consequence, customers can easily be overwhelmed with choice and information which can negatively effect decision behavior. In marketing literature, this phenomenon has been described as consumer confusion. It leads to coping strategies such as to abandon the purchase decision, postpone the purchase, seek additional information, delegate the decision, etc. In this paper, we investigate the impact of consumer confusion on buying behavior in the context of mass customisation. We report the results of an experiment (N=180), where subjects were confronted with a online-buying situation of a mass-customized product (laptop) using a configuration tool of the vendor. The impact of consumer confusion on five coping strategies (share/delegate the decision, seek additional information, narrow down the choice set/chose the standard model, abandon the purchase, and chose low-price offers) were tested using structural equation modelling (SEM).
Kew words: Mass customisation, configuration tools, consumer confusion, reduction strategies.
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