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Rethinking flow: qualitative insights from Mexican cross-border shopping

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The purpose of our study is twofold: (1) to conceptualize the flow construct in the offline retail environment not only as a psychological phenomenon but also as a sociocultural phenomenon by exploring related cultural variables and (2) to adopt a qualitative approach as a means to provide broader coverage of the likely factors associated with flow. We follow a grounded theory approach to formulate a conceptual model about the phenomenon of interest. Data collection includes semistructured in-depth interviews and a focus group. For data interpretation, we applied semiotic and narrative textual analyses. We propose a model of the antecedents leading to flow experience in the offline retail environment, introducing macro (sociocultural) factors and advancing micro (psychological) factors. Key elements of flow require a more refined definition in the offline retail environment. Several macro (cultural) attributes that influence Mexican shoppers' propensity to experience flow while either just browsing or fulfilling their shopping goals were identified. Retailers' efforts should be directed to providing opportunities for flow experience by articulating the right communication strategies. Qualitative methods uncovered a unique perspective exploring sociocultural characteristics and redefining individual characteristics of the offline retail shopping experience.

Keywords: US–Mexico border; cross-border retail shopping; explorative research; flow; qualitative research

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Management and Marketing, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX, USA 2: Department of Markets and Innovation, Emlyon Business School, Lyon, France

Publication date: May 27, 2014

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