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Publication Date
Degree PhD
Discipline/Department Management
Degree Level doctoral
University/Publisher Case Western Reserve University School of Graduate Studies
Abstract We are living in an era of rising connectivity where consumers of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are “always-on.” Consumers can now engage constantly with brands, retailers, content, and each other through real-time interactions, facilitated by a mobile-first mindset. This has earned consumers the moniker, “highly empowered.” Consumers are indeed empowered by the growth of the internet/mobile, proliferation of devices, and unprecedented access to information, choice, and control. However, rising connectivity also has downsides. Consumers now face a barrage of decisions about whether to share their personal information with firms or accept its collection without their explicit consent. The outcomes of these automatic, one-time decisions are far-reaching and long-lasting. They also empower firms—perhaps more than consumers; something most marketers prefer to keep secret. This research study addresses how “always-on” supposedly empowered consumers behave while shopping and make decisions in an era of pervasive personal information exchanges with retailers and others. It uses an exploratory, sequential mixed methods design beginning with a qualitative study followed by two quantitative studies. Study 1 investigates how 40 connected consumers behave and make decisions in shopping/retail environments. Findings reveal pros and cons of rising connectivity, dynamic behavior that challenges traditional customer segmentation, and tensions over privacy and personal data exchanges with retailers. These tensions are explored in Study 2 using survey data collected from 790 U.S. consumers, all heavy internet/mobile users. Consumer acceptance of personal data collection is interpreted as a form of coping with the stress of digital life. Study 3 extends Study 2 by focusing on three moderating effects on consumer willingness to share personal data or have it collected: perceived marketing intrusiveness, high versus low privacy knowledge, and high versus low privacy-protecting behaviors. Many findings are counterintuitive with few statistically significant differences in consumer attitudes—all affected by their perceptions of fairness in exchanges with firms. This work contributes to the emerging streams of research about consumer privacy, personal data exchanges, perceptions of fairness, and consumer acceptance in an era of presumed high consumer empowerment. It also has implications for marketers and marketing strategies, consumer advocates, and public policy.
Subjects/Keywords Management; Marketing; Technology; Information Science; always-on consumer; consumer connectivity; privacy; personal data exchanges; consumer empowerment; disempowerment; fairness of exchanges; consumer acceptance; consumer decision making; shopping; digital commerce; mixed methods; cluster analysis
Contributors Niraj, Rakesh (Committee Chair)
Language en
Rights unrestricted ; This thesis or dissertation is protected by copyright: all rights reserved. It may not be copied or redistributed beyond the terms of applicable copyright laws.
Country of Publication us
Format application/pdf
Record ID oai:etd.ohiolink.edu:case1554468526463455
Repository ohiolink
Date Indexed 2021-01-29
Grantor Case Western Reserve University School of Graduate Studies

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consumer advocates, and public policy. Keywords: always-on consumer; consumer connectivity; privacy; personal data exchanges; consumer empowerment; (dis)empowerment; fairness of exchanges; consumer acceptance; consumer decision making; shopping…

…much of the world. Connectivity is now “omnipresent, multifaceted, and multidimensional” and it reflects the evolution of the “connected consumer” and their present immersion in a vast and sophisticated collection of networks of interconnected people…

…and begs the rhetorical question of whether consumers can truly have more control, and—if so—over what? Rising consumer connectivity also has downsides. Experts and consumers alike question the side effects of people living in an always-on, always…

…firms. Second, an important byproduct of consumer rising connectivity is the already “big” and growing amounts of personal data continuously created and exchanged by consumers, either knowingly or unknowingly, with all sorts of individuals, firms…

…most marketers would no doubt prefer to keep secret: as consumer connectivity and empowerment grow, firms also become more powerful—and perhaps even more empowered than consumers. Related to this is another glaring issue with calling consumers…

…2009). This “unspeakable” truth is hidden from consumers for the company’s benefit and pursuit of market growth (Kucuk, 2009: 327). Consumer rising connectivity and its empowerment consequent can be considered contributors to this…

…outcomes would, most likely, also be perceived by consumers as efforts that diminish their power and as empowering of firms instead. Therefore, they disempower consumers. That rising consumer connectivity can simultaneously empower and unwittingly…

…retail continues to be transformed by digitization, rising consumer connectivity, and consumer empowerment. The growth of digital commerce reflects this transformation. Digital commerce enjoys double-digit growth. U.S. digital commerce sales grew to…