Decision Making in the 21st Century: Purchase Decisions With the Internet in your Pocket

Mika Juul Christoffersen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

This thesis is based on an exploratory study that strives to create a more in depth understanding of the impact additional information available to a consumer, may have on the decision making process and specifically on the end purchase decisions. The focus is on the possibilities advances in technology had made possible, in the form of Internet access via a smart phone in the decision making situation. It also looks briefly at how the production industry might think in regards to these new options technology is providing. The paper first explores the known theory in regards to consumer behavior as it pertains to the decision making process, focusing on knowledge acquisition, ethical consumerism and misleading information. Five cases are used as the base for the primary data and the smart phone application “Kemiluppen”, which can provide curated data on personal hygiene products such as shampoo, toothpaste ect., are used as the consumers source of additional information at the purchasing level. The consumers chosen all have varying familiarity with the app and are all between 27-39 years old, residing in the Copenhagen area. The cases are observed on a regular shopping trip to a known location, where the consumer interacts with the apps and products. After the observation is concluded a semi-structured interview were conducted with each case participant. It was show that prior knowledge and experience where a large factor in the decision making process and choice identification, and that the additional information worked to confirm or reject the choice identification or purchasing decision, which in turn could affect post-purchase satisfaction. The additional information made consumers better at more truly weighing product attributes against one another, which impacted the purchase decision, as the consumer had more knowledge about attributes, as well as knowledge regarding which attributes a product possessed. The additional information where also used as a rule of thumb or guide and thus enabling the consumer to engage in a more naturalistic decision making process, instead of striving for an optimal choice and to conserve some of the mental energy that would have otherwise been spent. The cases showed that in line with what other studies have shown, the product involvement at the purchasing level can med medium to high, even if the long term product involvement is not. The 3 higher product involvement at the purchasing level meant the product was seen as important and so the additional information was taken into account in all cases, when making the purchasing decision. Further research is needed to truly understand this area of research and the consequences of the impacts found in this study would be a possible next step, in looking at how they affect the market in relation to demand and supply over time. Personalized curated information as well as technology that logs or monitors activities and consumption would also be relevant areas for further research.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages88
SupervisorsJesper Clement