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Adapting influence approaches to informed consumers in high-involvement purchases: are salespeople really doomed?

Bryan Hochstein (), Willy Bolander (), Ronald Goldsmith () and Christopher R. Plouffe ()
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Bryan Hochstein: University of Alabama
Willy Bolander: Florida State University
Ronald Goldsmith: Florida State University
Christopher R. Plouffe: New Mexico State University

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 2019, vol. 47, issue 1, 118-137

Abstract: Abstract The availability of information and variety of online purchase options are increasing for consumers shopping for complex products (e.g., cars, real estate). This situation, and consumers’ resulting sense of informedness, has led many to suggest that the need for business-to-consumer (B2C) salespeople is diminishing. Yet, despite these claims, many purchases—especially those associated with high prices and, therefore, high consumer involvement—still require consumers to interact with salespeople. This interaction, between consumers (at varying levels of informedness) and B2C salespeople, is the focus of the current study. Merging theories of consumer informedness and adaptive interpersonal influence, we suggest that the interaction between salesperson influence attempts and consumer informedness plays an important role in purchase decisions. To study this notion, Study 1 matches automobile shoppers’ survey responses with objective purchase data from 480 sales interactions. Study 2 is a scenario-based experiment that investigates informedness and influence in a financial services setting. The findings of both studies suggest that understanding a consumer’s informedness, and adapting the proper influence approach to it, is critical if salespeople are to influence modern consumers’ purchase decisions and, thus, avoid irrelevancy.

Keywords: Informedness; Informed consumer; Sales; Seller influence tactics; Adaptiveness; Purchase decisions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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