Determinants of involvement in mobile commerce. The moderating role of gender/Determinantes de la implicacion en la compra por telefono movil. El papel moderador del genero.

Author:San Martin-Gutierrez, Sonia
  1. Introduction

    One of today's commercial challenges is the possibility of mobile commerce, now that Internet commerce has to some extent consolidated its presence in our society. Even though communication is the primary function of the mobile phone, in recent years firms have added numerous functions, as they are aware of its marketing potential, thanks to its ubiquitous, interactive qualities, ease of personalization and convenience. The penetration of mobile phones in society is undeniable, borne out by the constant increase in the numbers of mobile phone users in the world and their growth forecast.

    The development of the mobile phone as a new marketing tool is recent and it presents enormous possibilities as a purchasing channel. As this channel is at an early stage of development, it is essential that firms understand the factors that might involve consumers in its expansion: in other words, a classification of the determinants of their involvement. Along these lines, Bloch (1981) and Houston and Rothschild (1978) propose grouping the determinants of involvement into: personal characteristics of the consumer (personal innovativeness with information technology); attributes of the product (which reflect the perceived risk) and the context of the purchasing situation (permission marketing).

    We are aware of studies that have analyzed the moderating role of gender in the use of new technologies and in the context of on-line sales (Mittal and Kamakura, 2001; Floh and Treiblmaier, 2006) and of some works that treat the moderating role of gender in the context of mobile commerce (Jayawardhena et al. 2010). Thus, we present a parsimonious model that includes three determinants of involvement in mobile commerce and of gender as a moderating factor.

    Our work has a two-fold general objective: on the one hand, we wish to determine the roles played by perceived risk, permission marketing and personal innovativeness with information technology and their influence on involvement in mobile commerce and, on the other hand, the extent to which gender differences are present in the role played by these three determinants in involvement, underlining their moderating role.

    To achieve our objective, the second section describes a theoretical framework using the model's variables: involvement as the dependent variable, and perceived risk, permission marketing and personal innovativeness with information technology as the independent variables. Likewise, the third section is concerned with studying the moderating role exercised by gender in the relations between the aforementioned variables. Having proposed the hypotheses and laid out the global model, we move on to the fourth section that centres on the details of the empirical study. Finally, the fifth section contains the principal conclusions, professional implications, limitations and future lines of research.

  2. Involvement in mobile commerce. Conceptualization and determinants

    2.1. Involvement in mobile commerce

    In recent decades, involvement has been considered one of the explanatory variables of individual behaviour. In a transactional context, individuals facing the same purchase decision are expected to behave in different ways according to the degree of their involvement (Dholakia, 2001). For example, an implicated consumer gathers information beforehand and evaluates the available information in a more critical way (Celsi and Olson, 1988; Clarke and Belk, 1979). Equally, individual involvement determines the duration, the intensity and the complexity of the purchasing decision-making process (Howard and Shet, 1969) and the purchasing experience (Wakefield and Baker, 1998).

    The conceptualization of involvement has been an important and controversial theme in marketing research (Andrews et al. 1990) and we can find multiple definitions (see Cherif, 2001). Zaichkowsky (1985, p. 32) defines involvement as "a person's perceived relevance of the object based upon inherent needs, values, and interests"; for Celsi and Olson (1988, pp. 211) "involvement is said to reflect the degree of personal relevance of the decision for an individual in terms of basic values, goals and self-concepts". Taking the proposals of Celsi and Olson (1988) and Zaichkowsky (1985) as a reference, we define individual involvement in mobile purchasing in this research as a stable and long-lasting state of personal relevance and interest in the (mobile) channel used for the purchase. As a result, we do not consider so-called situational involvement applicable as defined by Bloch (1981), given that it refers to a concrete, time-bound situation, applied to a specific context, the character of which is provisional and that will diminish when the objective of purchasing a particular product or service has been achieved.

    Nuns (2005) highlights the importance of involvement in the management of on-line client relations, arguing that the level of client involvement in the purchase will have a considerable effect on the client's desires to establish communication with the firm, which will benefit from such communication to the extent that it is able to identify each client's level of involvement and adapt the conversation accordingly.

    Once involvement in the mobile purchase is defined and its importance underlined, we then centre on the study of its three key determinants: perceived risk related to the product and the channel; marketing permission related to the firm; and personal innovativeness in the domain of information technology related to the personality of the consumer. Thus, with regard to the individual, we will consider two internal determinants -risk and propensity to use technologies--and another external one -permission marketing.

    2.2. Determinants of involvement in mobile commerce

    Andrews et al. (1990) propose the existence of factors that are situational or associated with the purchase decision, and personal factors as antecedents to involvement. In line with this proposition, and in accordance with the objectives of this research, we focus on the study of risk in mobile purchasing as a determinant of involvement, and we also analyze how individual profiles affect the involvement of purchasers in mobile commerce through their personal innovativeness with information technology. Likewise, we include permission marketing as a further determinant that refers to the selling firm. Our proposal follows the classification of determinants of involvement that were previously suggested by Bloch (1981) and Houston and Rothschild (1978) grouping the determinants of involvement into individual consumer characteristics (personal innovativeness with information technology); product attributes (reflected in perceived risk) and the context of the purchasing situation (permission marketing).

    Perceived risk in mobile commerce

    The theory of perceived risk has been used to explain the behaviour of the consumer ever since the 1960s (Taylor, 1974). Since the first investigations into risk, it is normal to use the probability of obtaining a negative result to conceptualize risk (Bauer, 1960; Taylor, 1974; Peter and Ryan, 1976). Perceived risk, seen as uncertainty with regard to results and the costs of the purchasing decision, is already used in the context of distance commerce (Campbell and Goodstein, 2001; Featherman and Fuller, 2002; Gefen et al., 2002).

    It is acknowledged that consumers associate more risk with distance purchasing decisions than with purchases from a physical outlet (Tan, 1999; Cunningham et al., 2005). In the context of mobile marketing, it is also suggested that risk perception is greater in mobile banking than in traditional banking based on personal interaction (Kim et al., 2009; Koenig-Lewis et al., 2010). Distance purchasing entails greater negative results than traditional selling, because the difficulty of evaluating a product or service is greater, there are no tangible clues about product quality or face-to-face interaction and the purchase is affected by problems of security and privacy (Ha, 2004; Laroche et al., 2005; Li and Yeh, 2010).

    One of the fields in which risk in mobile purchasing has been studied more than any other is banking. Its main types of risk are those related to privacy and security, the reliability of the tool used for the purchase (mobile telephone) and the control perceived by the individual when negotiating the use of a new technology (Laukkanen and Kiviniemi, 2010). Furthermore and in relation to mobile commerce, it has also been found that if a technology fails to provide the expected result, it will result in a loss for the consumer (Im et al. 2008; Laukkanen and Kiviniemi, 2010).

    It should be pointed out that many works studying perceived risk in the context of mobile marketing treat it essentially as a fear of providing personal or banking data to a firm and of loss of privacy (Bauer et al., 2005; Gao et al., 2010; Riquelme and Rios, 2010). However, we believe that the conceptualization of risk, based on concerns over privacy and security, made more sense at the start of electronic marketing, and for data transferred through impersonal mediums such as a computer. Risk consideration, therefore, has changed since on-line transactions have become more popular, moving from greater concern over fraud to other types of risk related both to cognitive and to affective factors (Wu and Wang, 2005) and derived from product quality. In fact, the proliferation of social networks is an indicator of diminished concerns over privacy and security (Gao et al., 2010). Therefore, in this work we shall treat the risk that is related to the anxiety that a mobile purchase produces in the consumer jointly with the risk that the mobile purchase will not turn out as expected.

    The literature indicates that perceived risk is a factor that affects in a significant and negative way the intention to use or the acceptance of mobile-telephone purchasing (Bauer et al., 2005...

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