Media Richness Theory and the Intention to Use Online Stores

Media Richness Theory and the Intention to Use Online Stores

Eric Brunelle (HEC Montreal, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/jcrmm.2010070103
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Although media richness theory has received considerable empirical support in explaining individual channel use and could provide important insights into the explanation of e-consumer behavior, no studies have validated this theory in explaining consumers’ intentions to use online stores. Therefore, the objective of this study was to empirically test media richness theory in explaining consumers’ intentions to use online stores in their purchase process. An online survey was carried out and data from 749 consumers was collected and analyzed using structural equation models. The results open up a new way of explaining consumers’ intentions to use online stores, as they provide empirical support for media richness theory in a commercial context and link it with the theory of planned behavior.
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A number of studies done in the last few years have shown that a good understanding of consumer behavior on the Internet is essential if firms are to implement effective electronic commerce strategies and deploy functional consumer interfaces (Dellarocas, 2006; Hansen, 2008; Pitta, Franzak, & Fowler, 2006; Schibrowsky, Peltier, & Nill, 2007; Weinberg, Parise, & Guinan, 2007). Numerous studies have attempted to explain consumers’ decision to engage in online shopping or not to do so (Chang, Cheung, & Lai, 2005; Constantinides, 2004; Saeed, Hwang, & Yi, 2003; Zhou, Dai, & Zhang, 2007). Nevertheless, although several studies suggest that consumers’ behavior can be explained by media richness theory (Black, Lockett, Ennew, Winklhofer, & McKechnie, 2002; Korgaonkar, Silverblatt, & Girard, 2006; Pavlou & Fygenson, 2006), we have not found any research that tests this theory’s explanation of consumer behavior. Thus, this article presents the results of an empirical study designed to formulate and test a model to explain consumers’ intentions to use online stores to perform information searches and transactions while testing media richness theory in the context of business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships.

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