Consumer intimidation: Scaled and modeled in a retail setting

Linh Vu & Simon Boye Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Despite the ongoing trend of in-store marketing innovation, spurred on by organizations trying to differentiate themselves in yet another way, some individuals may actually prefer the customary, as they are intimidated by such new-fangled settings and therefore avoid approaching them. This paper explores the phenomenon of Consumer Intimidation (CI) in retail settings, developing and validating a self-report measure for its future measurement, and attempting to model the various explanatory factors that underlie. The initial scale was developed in an exploratory Study 1 (N=9), where personal interviews were conducted with six laymen and three experts, in order to generate and judge possible scale content areas and specific item statements. This approach, in tandem with careful delineation of the construct, and thoughtful and proportionate use of items across dimensions ensured the validity of the content employed. The result, a 10-item 6- point Likert-scale. Study 2 (N = 151), took the shape of an online scenario-based survey, with the objective of both testing the constructed scale and elucidating a model of consumer intimidation. This uncovered a uni-dimensional CI construct, albeit with a social subcomponent. The Cronbach alpha measure of internal consistency (0.925) indicated that the scale was reliable and finally construct validity was supported through the confirmation of our expected relations with other measures of emotional states. Towards the modeling objective, Study 2 evinced a cause partiality in favor of internal factors, elucidating the significance of consumer store and product familiarity, openness, extraversion and agreeableness for their ‘intimidatability’. Most explanatory were store and product familiarity, explaining 25.5% and 23.8% of variation in Consumer Intimidation levels. Intimidated consumers were also clearly shown to elicit avoidance type behaviors, in particular that of exploratory avoidance, this establishing criterion validity of our scale. In light of the negative impact, from a marketer’s perspective, that intimidation has on consumer behavior, we provide several pointers as to how the emotional state might be moderated, but given the narrow scope of the empirical work that was conducted on store stimuli, these are at best instinctive recommendations. Accordingly, several research directions are also outlined, that may be pursued to progress our understanding of the phenomenon, and how to tackle it practically, further. Overall, findings provide support for the existence of a Consumer Intimidation construct with attention-worthy implications, and furthermore that a reliable and valid scale with which to measure it, has been developed.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages132