Special Issue "Digital Markets and the Consumer"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 May 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Inma Rodríguez-Ardura
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
Interests: entrepreneurial digital marketing; consumer’s immersive experiences online; social e-commerce; marketing for e-learning
Prof. Dr. Maria del Mar Pàmies
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Business Management, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Reus, Spain
Interests: consumer behavior; waiting for services; children as consumers; online consumer behavior

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The digital market landscape is already in transformation mode by consumers’ use of conventional and social e-commerce tools, the growing importance of online recommendation agents in purchase decision processes, and consumers’ engagement in omnichannel communication and distribution environments. However, even more disruption is in sight. The marketing applications of big data and predictive analytics, as well as more recent digital advances (artificial intelligence assistants, 3D printing, robots, blockchain, etc.), suggest that consumption experiences in digital markets are on the verge of radical change. For example: It is expected that consumers, by way of digital mechanisms and a service dominant logic, will be increasingly empowered in their interplay with brands; they will progressively appreciate multisensorial, highly hedonic, and compelling consumption experiences when they look for experience products; and they will be expecting to go through very efficient, convenient, and frictionless consumption experiences—if they search for functional, frequently purchased products. Furthermore, consumer behavior is likely to be omnichannel, highly fragmented, and show diverse levels of engagement, so the notion of lineal consumer journeys might not be useful anymore, and consumers’ willingness to engage with value propositions will vary across product categories and brands. Paradoxically, the more heartily consumers adopt digital technologies in their consumption experiences and the more interconnected they are, the more willing they will be to express their personal identities, engage in social interactions and humanized purchase contexts, and benefit from individualized solutions and highly personalized customer service.

This Special Issue welcomes a diversity of disciplinary approaches, sectorial views, and methodological frameworks that bring new knowledge about the transformative dynamics of consumers in digital markets and the new business opportunities available to brands to improve the value and the interplay they provide to consumers.

Prof. Dr. Inma Rodríguez-Ardura
Prof. Dr. Maria del Mar Pàmies
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • digital markets
  • consumer behavior
  • advanced technologies for retailing
  • online immersive experience
  • omnichannel experience
  • e-commerce
  • social e-commerce
  • consumer engagement
  • online consumer culture

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Mobile Apps Use and WOM in the Food Delivery Sector: The Role of Planned Behavior, Perceived Security and Customer Lifestyle Compatibility
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4275; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104275 (registering DOI) - 22 May 2020
Abstract
This research examines the phenomenon of food delivery services from the mobile app user’s perspective and how consumers’ lifestyles are changing because of the convenience provided by the apps. By means of an online survey targeted at US food delivery app customers, our [...] Read more.
This research examines the phenomenon of food delivery services from the mobile app user’s perspective and how consumers’ lifestyles are changing because of the convenience provided by the apps. By means of an online survey targeted at US food delivery app customers, our study analyzes the main motivations that lead them to use and recommend these technology-based services. The results of the study revealed that some of the theory of planned behavior model variables (i.e., attitude toward the behavior, subjective norms), influence customer use and word-of-mouth (WOM) intentions. Security influences intention to spread WOM, whereas customer lifestyle compatibility influences intention to use the food delivery apps. A post hoc analysis revealed that perceived control is only important for older customers, who need to perceive that they control the apps before they will recommend them to other customers. The findings of the study are discussed and contrasted with previous research in the field. The managerial implications derived from the findings provide practical guidance for food delivery app companies. Further research avenues are suggested to encourage scholars to continue investigating the challenge of the diffusion of mobile apps in the food delivery and related sectors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effective Type of Information Categorization in Online Curation Service Depending on Psychological Ownership
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3321; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083321 - 19 Apr 2020
Abstract
With the development of the Internet, consumers can acquire a variety of information; however, as the amount of information continuously increases, it becomes difficult for consumers to make decisions. In this era of information overload, online curation services are emerging to help consumers [...] Read more.
With the development of the Internet, consumers can acquire a variety of information; however, as the amount of information continuously increases, it becomes difficult for consumers to make decisions. In this era of information overload, online curation services are emerging to help consumers choose the information they want. In these online services, information is grouped and classified according to certain criteria and presented to consumers. In this context, there are typical goal-derived and taxonomic categories in the method of structuring information. This study investigated the effect of category types on the categorization attitude of consumers according to their psychological ownership of online services. To this end, this study confirmed the interaction effect of category types (goal-derived vs. taxonomic) and the degree of psychological ownership (higher vs. lower). As a result, users with higher (as opposed to lower) psychological ownership of online curation services revealed a more effective attitude toward categorization in the goal-derived (as opposed to taxonomic) type. The results of this study suggest implications on how to structure information in consideration of the psychological state of consumers in an online context and are expected to be useful guidelines for practitioners such as service providers, marketers, and UX(User Experience)/UI(User Interface) designers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
Did You Invest Less Than Me? The Effect of Other’s Share of Investment on Psychological Ownership of Crowdfunding Projects
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 2025; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12052025 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The development of information technology, in an online context, has expanded into collective consumption, e.g., crowdfunding projects. Moreover, people feel a sense of psychological ownership (“it is mine”) toward projects they invest in, even if their attributes are immaterial or intangible. This research [...] Read more.
The development of information technology, in an online context, has expanded into collective consumption, e.g., crowdfunding projects. Moreover, people feel a sense of psychological ownership (“it is mine”) toward projects they invest in, even if their attributes are immaterial or intangible. This research focuses on changes in psychological ownership based on the characteristics of crowdfunding projects, which are collectively invested in with others, and the attributes of objects (tangible/intangible). Specifically, this research seeks to determine how psychological ownership is affected by information about the amount of money invested by others in a shared project. Additionally, this research investigates whether psychological ownership changes based on others’ investment (less/more) and the attributes (tangible/intangible) of the project. The findings from the empirical analysis indicate that psychological ownership changes based on information regarding other people’s investment in a shared crowdfunding project. The results also show that, in projects with tangible attributes, psychological ownership changes based on investment information; however, no changes were observed in projects with intangible attributes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
Consumer Perception of Online Attributes in Circular Economy Activities
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1914; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051914 - 03 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Businesses like Airbnb have shown that a successful circular economy (CE) business can operate exclusively online. Although online communication and web appearance attributes have been subject to academic research given accelerated digitization, there is still a lack of knowledge about online attributes and [...] Read more.
Businesses like Airbnb have shown that a successful circular economy (CE) business can operate exclusively online. Although online communication and web appearance attributes have been subject to academic research given accelerated digitization, there is still a lack of knowledge about online attributes and their role in facilitating CE. We close the portrayed knowledge gap by conducting a discrete-choice experiment with best to worst scaling and focusing on the effect of CE experience on the perception of a CE website by ranking nine online attributes, grouped in three subsets. We therefore contribute by identifying online attributes that are perceived as favorable for CE businesses and detect how participation in CE activities affects the perception of these attributes. We find that third-party associated online attributes (e.g., user reviews or third-party guarantees) rank significantly higher throughout CE consumption patterns of the sample, being always amongst the top three attributes. This novel finding on online preferences opens a new direction for further research, as well as allows practitioners to optimize online operations accordingly. Furthermore, we find that users without prior touchpoints with CE have a higher need for information about the business model as compared to CE active users who are more interested in community related attributes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
Promoting Consumer Engagement in Online Communities through Virtual Experience and Social Identity
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 855; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030855 - 23 Jan 2020
Abstract
With the development and proliferation of online games, understanding how to seize these players has become an essential issue for academic scholars and practitioners. Based on virtual experience in online gaming communities and consumer engagement perspectives, this research developed and verified a multi-dimensional [...] Read more.
With the development and proliferation of online games, understanding how to seize these players has become an essential issue for academic scholars and practitioners. Based on virtual experience in online gaming communities and consumer engagement perspectives, this research developed and verified a multi-dimensional framework for assessing how to retain and encourage players continuous dedication and engagement behaviors. The proposed framework illustrates the interrelationships among six constructs in online gaming communities: social presence, telepresence, cognitive social identity, affective social identity, psychological engagement, and behavioral engagement. Data collected from 338 players who have experience in engagement behaviors in online gaming communities. The collected data were examined against the research framework using structural equation modeling (SEM). The research findings offer sufficient evidence that behavioral engagement is influenced by psychological engagement, which consecutively, are determined by cognitive social identity, affective social identity, social presence, and telepresence. More importantly, the mediating analysis indicated that psychological engagement is a crucial mediator, meaning that consumer engagement is a sequential process, and behavioral engagement cannot independently exist without psychological engagement. Taken together, the research results of this study have several critical theoretical and practical implications for future academic researchers and practitioners to have better understanding of consumer engagement. By doing so, the game companies can have sustainable competitive advantage and support sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Social Presence and Chatbot Errors on Trust
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 256; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010256 - 27 Dec 2019
Abstract
This article explores the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots for creating positive change by supporting customers in the digital realm. Our study, which focuses on the customer and his/her declarative psychological responses to an interaction with a virtual assistant, will fill a [...] Read more.
This article explores the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots for creating positive change by supporting customers in the digital realm. Our study, which focuses on the customer and his/her declarative psychological responses to an interaction with a virtual assistant, will fill a gap in the digital marketing research, where little attention has been paid to the impact of Error and Gender, as well as the extent to which Social Presence and Perceived Competence mediate the relationships between Anthropomorphic design cues and Trust. We provide consistent evidence of the significant negative effect of erroneous conversational interfaces on several constructs considered in our conceptual model, such as: perceived competence, trust, as well as positive consumer responses. We also provide support to previous research findings and confirm that people employ a biased thinking across gender and this categorization also influences their acceptance of chatbots taking social roles. The results of an empirical study demonstrated that highly anthropomorphized female chatbots that engage in social behaviors are significantly shaping positive consumer responses, even in the error condition. Moreover, female virtual assistants are much more commonly forgiven when committing errors compared to male chatbots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of SNS Social Capital on E-Service Quality and Sustained Referral Intentions of E-Fitness Apparel: Comparative Body Image Satisfaction Analysis
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7154; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247154 - 13 Dec 2019
Abstract
Fitness apparel companies target consumers with easy access to social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest). However, fitness apparel companies have struggled to incorporate social interactivity into their marketing strategies due to a lack of knowledge about consumers’ social media behaviors and different [...] Read more.
Fitness apparel companies target consumers with easy access to social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest). However, fitness apparel companies have struggled to incorporate social interactivity into their marketing strategies due to a lack of knowledge about consumers’ social media behaviors and different country contexts. The purpose of this study was to investigate (1) comparison of college students’ body image satisfaction in both the United States (U.S.) and South Korea and (2) how their body satisfaction influences consumer communication and the sustained referral intentions of fitness apparel in social media. The findings from 1144 survey responses of U.S. and South Korean college students reveal that student body satisfaction differs between the two countries. Body-dissatisfied U.S. and South Korean students with social capital on social networking websites are directly influenced by word-of-mouth regarding online fitness apparel purchases. Furthermore, perceived e-service quality, including website design and website responsiveness, is a significant mediator in both cultures, affecting the word-of-mouth for fitness-related purchases. This study provides evidence for marketers of fitness apparel, particularly e-marketers, to consider the cultural differences in customer preferences and customer body satisfaction, so as to enhance service performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Consumers’ Perceived Security, Perceived Control, Interface Design Features, and Conscientiousness in Continuous Use of Mobile Payment Services
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6843; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236843 - 02 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Mobile payment has played a vital role in transforming traditional payment methods into digital payment methods and has led to changes in consumers’ behaviors in economic exchanges. However, there is a lack of knowledge about how perceived security influences are a sustainable use [...] Read more.
Mobile payment has played a vital role in transforming traditional payment methods into digital payment methods and has led to changes in consumers’ behaviors in economic exchanges. However, there is a lack of knowledge about how perceived security influences are a sustainable use of mobile payment services. In order to examine the impact of perceived security on users’ continuous use, especially regarding mobile payment services and factors related to perceived security (i.e., perceived control, interface design features, and conscientiousness), an empirical study was conducted to collect data from 252 participants. Then, the proposed research model was examined using structural equation modelling. The results revealed that the perception of interface design features was influenced by conscientiousness. Perceived security was affected by perceived control, the perception of interface design features, and conscientiousness. Moreover, perceived security was identified to have a strong impact on continuous intention to use mobile payment. The design implications for mobile service providers and designers are presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
A System Dynamics Model of Online Stores’ Sales: Positive and Negative E-WOM and Promotion Perspective
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6045; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216045 - 31 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In this paper, we build a causal interaction diagram between the factors that may influence the sales and profits of online stores. An online store’s real operation data were used to help determine the causal relationship between variables. Finally, we proposed a system [...] Read more.
In this paper, we build a causal interaction diagram between the factors that may influence the sales and profits of online stores. An online store’s real operation data were used to help determine the causal relationship between variables. Finally, we proposed a system dynamics model and conducted a simulation of the operation of an online store. In this model, we focused on the impact of promotion and positive/negative electronic word of mouth (e-WOM) on the sales and profits of the online stores. The simulation results showed a similar trend to the real data and the main research finding showed that promotion is not a long-term measure for the sustainable development of online stores. Excessive promotion effort may lead to consumers’ dissatisfaction leading the increase of negative e-WOM. The systematic simulation can help us understand better the long-term effect of promotion and e-WOM on the operation of online stores. Finally, we gave some management suggestions for online stores’ sustainable operations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
Who Clicks on Online Donation? Understanding the Characteristics of SNS Users during Participation in Online Campaigns
Sustainability 2019, 11(13), 3674; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11133674 - 04 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The purpose of this study is to explore the characteristics of SNS (Social Network Service) users as potential donors for the sustainability of online donation campaigns. For this purpose, we examined the relationship between SNS users’ characteristics, social interaction and donation intention. Based [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study is to explore the characteristics of SNS (Social Network Service) users as potential donors for the sustainability of online donation campaigns. For this purpose, we examined the relationship between SNS users’ characteristics, social interaction and donation intention. Based on self-construal level theory, we assume that SNS users’ characteristics (independent-self and interdependent-self) affect their social interaction and in turn their online donation behaviors. Specifically, we suggest that people with an interdependent disposition tend to have more social interaction, which in turn has a positive effect on participation in donation through the mediation of empathy for the beneficiaries of the donation described in the advertisement. In order to verify the hypotheses, we use structural equation modeling to analyze data collected from 116 participants through online surveys. The findings of this study are as follows. First, individuals with an interdependent disposition have more online social interaction, whereas an independent disposition does not have a significant effect on social interaction online. Second, SNS users’ social interaction has a positive effect on empathy for the beneficiaries of donation. Third, empathy for beneficiaries has a positive effect on participation in online donations. These findings confirm the psychological mechanism between online social interaction and donation behavior and contribute useful guidance for non-profit organizations that design and implement online donation campaigns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
Consumer Purchase Intention toward Crowdfunding Products/Services: A Cost–Benefit Perspective
Sustainability 2019, 11(13), 3579; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11133579 - 28 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
With the popularity of crowdfunding, many small- and medium-sized ventures and startups which have insufficient funds advertise and sell their services or products in reward-based crowdfunding markets. The success of crowdfunding projects for sale purposes is therefore beneficial to the sustainable development of [...] Read more.
With the popularity of crowdfunding, many small- and medium-sized ventures and startups which have insufficient funds advertise and sell their services or products in reward-based crowdfunding markets. The success of crowdfunding projects for sale purposes is therefore beneficial to the sustainable development of these growing enterprises. Based upon goal attainment theory, a research model based on a cost–benefit framework is proposed to analyze consumer purchase intention in reward-based crowdfunding markets. The research model is empirically tested with data collected from 398 participants in China. A structural equation modeling analysis reveal that perceived benefits (price concession and perceived innovation) exert a significant positive impact on perceived net goal attainment (PNGA), whereas perceived costs (transaction cost and performance risk) have a weak negative effect on PNGA. The results also indicate that satisfaction mediates between PNGA and purchase intention. Furthermore, we use an artificial neural network analysis to weigh the relative importance of the antecedents of PNGA. The results suggest that perceived innovation is more important than price concession, which is consistent with the structural equation modeling analysis. These results might deepen our understanding of how consumers trade off costs and benefits in the purchase of crowdfunding products/services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)
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Open AccessArticle
On-line Crowdsourcing: Motives of Customers to Participate in Online Collaborative Innovation Processes
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3479; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123479 - 25 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The large-scale adoption of the Internet and social media make transactions and interactions between businesses and customers easy, inexpensive, and highly efficient. Online crowdsourcing and co-creation with customers are developments increasingly seen as attractive alternatives to traditional forms of innovation management. Online customers [...] Read more.
The large-scale adoption of the Internet and social media make transactions and interactions between businesses and customers easy, inexpensive, and highly efficient. Online crowdsourcing and co-creation with customers are developments increasingly seen as attractive alternatives to traditional forms of innovation management. Online customers are willing to spend time and effort on collaborative innovation trajectories and so have a say in the development of new products and services. Identifying and recruiting capable and innovation-minded co-creation partners online is one of the main challenges of such collaborative innovation-focused processes; understanding the attitudes and motives of innovation-minded customers are the first steps in enticing and recruit these as innovation partners. In this study, we identify and classify customer motives for participating in online co-creation processes in two European countries: Spain and The Netherlands. More than a quarter of online customers are active co-creators and two co-creator profiles were identified in both countries, based the levels of motivation predisposition; Spanish online customers are more involved and enthusiastic co-creators than Dutch customers. The study confirms that financial motives are not the main reason for co-creation; highly motivated customers are motivated by product-related benefits, while hedonic benefits are the most important triggers for less motivated co-creators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Markets and the Consumer)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Effects of SNS Social Capital on E-service Quality and Sustained Referral Intentions of E-Fitness Apparel: Comparative Body Image Satisfaction Analysis
Author: Jae-Gu, Yu
Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of Sports Science, Chungang University
Abstract: This study investigates the relationship between consumers’perceived body satisfaction, perceived social capital, website design, website responsiveness, and sustained word-of-mouth communication in purchasing fitness apparel. It also identifies the effects of cultural recognition on the development of sustainable e-markets based on a comparison between the United States and South Korea by (a) examining the cross-cultural differences between consumers’body satisfaction and dissatisfaction and (b) investigating the effect of social capital on word-of-mouth communication in online fitness apparel shopping according to body image satisfaction. The findings from 1,144 survey responses of U.S. and Korean college students demonstrate that students’body satisfaction differs between the two cultures. Body-dissatisfied U.S. and Korean students with social capital on social networking websites are directly influenced by word-of-mouth communication regarding online fitness apparel purchases. Further, perceived e-service quality, including website design and responsiveness, is a significant mediator in both cultures, affecting the word-of-mouth communication for fitness-related purchases. E-marketers should consider the differences in cultures and customer’s body satisfaction to enhance the perceived service quality in fitness apparel e-commerce. Further, this study provides evidence for e-marketing management teams to consider consumers’preferences for fitness apparel based on consumers’body satisfaction in different cultures.
Keywords: fitness apparel, cross-cultural comparison, online shopping, social capital, e-service quality, sustained intention

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