A new UBC Sauder study finds that telling customers there’s product information available online makes people more likely to buy it – even if they don’t actually go to the website.
Professor Katherine White, one of the study’s authors, explains how her findings can help retailers boost their bottom line and empower shoppers to make better decisions.
What happens when a shopper hears there’s more info online?
We found in our study that shoppers are more likely to buy something when they know they can count on the Internet to remember product information for them. We ran a series of studies, including one that found customers at a winery spent almost twice as much money if a sales person told them about the wines and then said all the information could also be found on the website. Even if they never visit the website, just knowing the information is there relieves them of the burden of remembering it all themselves.
Is it good for us to rely on the internet as a memory reserve?
There’s a growing line of research showing people get lazy when they know they can just check online instead of remembering things. It’s just like how we used to remember our friends’ phone numbers, but now they’re all just saved in our contact lists. A lot of past research has shown the impact of the web on memories in a negative light, but here we’ve found a silver lining. It can give people more confidence in their decision to buy something, which can be good for retailers and shoppers alike.
Are reminders of additional online info always helpful?
No – not if the customer thinks they’re missing something. If shoppers aren’t given much information in the store, then hearing about a website filled with unknown information can be overwhelming, so they’ll be more wary about buying. Retailers should only remind customers of a website if it’s repeating the information already available in store, otherwise it will backfire.
The study, “The Cue-of-the-Cloud Effect: When Reminders of Online Information Availability Increase Purchase Intentions and Choice,” by Rajesh Bhargave, Antonia Mantonakis and Katherine White, is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research.