Two online shoppers seeking to buy the exact same item may have very different ideas about what constitutes a satisfying online experience. How a shopper values his or her use of personal time is the differentiator, according to a new study.
It reveals that time management style is an important distinction merchants should factor in to the process of segmenting online traffic. Some people enjoy the hunt, while others just want to accomplish an objective.
"Time planning style is an important construct for marketers to consider, since it impacts the specific benefits sought from web usage," state the authors of, "Pleasure or Utility? Time Planning Style and Web Usage Behaviors," a report by researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Business, the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, and Quinnipiac University, which was published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing.
In terms of time management, researchers categorized web users as hedonistic or utilitarian. The former are those who use the Internet for pleasure or leisurely purposes. The latter are those who go online for specific reasons or tasks.
The study found both groups go online to shop. But because their motivations differ, so should the web experience provided by retailers that are out to capture either type of shopper.
Web marketers that cater to customers who are utilitarian shoppers should be less concerned with bells and whistles and offer an experience that provides a means to an end. By contrast, a spontaneous time planner might respond to online experiences that offer sounds, entertaining hyperlinks and ways to share the site experience with others.
How a shopper values time is just one of the under examined individual attributes that could be of value to online marketers, the study also suggests. It urges further work in identifying other relevant individual variables. Such study of individual goals and preferences will help online merchants customize website content, features and navigation.
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