Smartphone users more likely to splurge online: study

TORONTO: Keep your smartphone at bay if you want to curb that urge to splurge, say scientists who found that people are more likely to indulge in guilty pleasures while shopping online using a touchscreen than a computer.

“Touchscreen technology has rapidly penetrated the consumer market and embedded itself into our daily lives. Given its fast growth and popularity, we know surprisingly little about its effect on consumers,” said Ying Zhu, assistant professor at The University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus in Canada.

“The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers’ favour of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers’ preference for utilitarian products,” Zhu said.

Researchers also found that participants using touchscreen technology scored significantly higher on experiential thinking than those using desktop computers.

However, those on desktops scored significantly higher on rational thinking, researchers said.

They conducted a series of experiments with university students to measure thinking styles and purchase intentions using devices like touchscreens and desktop computers.

The team aimed to investigate whether online purchase intentions change when it comes to two different types of products: hedonic, or those that give the consumer pleasure like chocolate or massages; and utilitarian, products that are practical, like bread or printers.
“Overall, what we learned is that using a touchscreen evokes consumers’ experiential thinking, which resonates with the playful nature of hedonic products,” Zhu said.
“These results may well be a game-changer for sectors like the retail industry. But my advice for consumers who want to save a bit of money is to put away the smartphone when you have urge to spend on a guilty pleasure,” Zhu added.
The study was published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services.