How product representation shapes virtual experiences and re-patronage intentions : the role of mental imagery processing and experiential value
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
The international review of retail, distribution and consumer research. - London
, p. 1-24
University of Antwerp
Despite the lack of physical contact, innovative technologies in online stores are able to engender compelling virtual product experiences. The primary objective of this study is to clarify the mechanisms through which these virtual product experiences occur. The study proposes and tests a model in which mental imagery processing and consumers' perceptions of experiential value function as potential mechanisms through which virtual experiences in online stores are established, thereby determining re-patronage intention. The model was tested in an experimental study investigating two versions of a fast fashion online store that varied in terms of product representations: dynamic (i.e., a mix-and-match feature allowing the creation of visual images of apparel combinations) and static (i.e., rigid pictures). A sample of 660 valid cases involving individuals of Generation Y (born in 19771994) was obtained. The structural equation modeling technique was used to analyze the proposed research model. The results indicate that the dynamic mix-and-match technology arouses more mental images of physical product interaction than do static pictures. Moreover, mental imagery processing can be considered an important underlying source of online experiential value, which consumers subsequently exploit with repeated visits to the online store. By introducing psychological constructs such as mental imagery and perceived value, this study augments prior research on online product experiences by proposing and validating the underlying mechanisms through which the way of representing products affect consumer responses. Finally, both theoretical and practical contributions of the findings are discussed, as well as directions for further research.