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The effect of perceptual fluency and enduring involvement on situational involvement in an online apparel shopping context

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Purpose ‐ Casual online shoppers without a strong intention to purchase items can easily leave web sites within seconds. However, there is little research examining how and why consumers are engaged momentarily when they are exposed to a target stimulus in a low involvement shopping situation. This online experiment study seeks to investigate the possibility of enhancing situational involvement with personal and stimulus factors, namely enduring involvement and perceived perceptual fluency, and to determine how enjoyment contributes to the relations among enduring involvement, perceptual fluency, cognitive effort, and situational involvement, in a low-involvement online shopping context. Design/methodology/approach ‐ An online experiment was conducted to test the conceptual model. Two mock web sites with different levels of perceptual fluency were developed to test effects of perceptual fluency on situational involvement, and participants completed an online survey after viewing one on the web site. Findings ‐ Structural equation modeling was performed to test the proposed model (n=657). The result confirmed that perceived perceptual fluency elicited enjoyment, which in turn positively affected situational involvement, purchase intention, and cognitive effort. Enduring involvement influences enjoyment, cognitive effort, and purchase intention in a web-browsing situation. Enjoyment plays a key role by mediating the perceptual fluency effect and enduring involvement effect on purchase intention and cognitive effort. The findings of the current study demonstrated that perceptual fluency of a stimulus could engage people by enhancing enjoyment. Originality/value ‐ The current study provides an insight into comprehensively understanding how situational involvement can be created through visual information display/web site design as well as a personal factor. The study uniquely approaches the issue of involvement and engagement through internal, psychological process of consumers. Also, the empirical support for the proposed model successfully extends the perceptual fluency hypothesis, contributing to the field of literature.
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Keywords: Consumer perception; Engagement; Fashion retailing; Internet shopping; Involvement; Visual information; Web site design

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-07-12

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