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Ditch your smartphone to curb spending online, says study

Toronto: If you want to curb that urge to splurge, putting your smartphone away may help, as touchscreen technology is behind people indulging in guilty pleasures when shopping online, researchers say.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The findings showed that compared with consumers who had a desktop computer, those with smartphones were more likely to purchase hedonic products -- consumed for luxury purposes, these are desirable objects that allow the consumer to feel pleasure, fun, and enjoyment from buying the product.

Further, participants using touchscreen technology also scored significantly higher on experiential thinking than those using desktop computers.

However, those on desktops scored significantly higher on rational thinking, the researchers said.

"Using a touchscreen evokes consumers' experiential thinking, which resonates with the playful nature of hedonic products. These results may well be a game-changer for sectors like the retail industry," said Ying Zhu, assistant professor at the University of British Columbia - Okanagan campus.

"But my advice for consumers who want to save a bit of money is to put away the smartphone when you have urge to spend on a guilty pleasure," Zhu added.

For the study, detailed in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, the team conducted a series of experiments with university students to measure thinking styles and purchase intentions using devices like touchscreens and desktop computers.

The study aimed to investigate whether online purchase intentions change when it comes to two different types of products: hedonic, or those that give the consumer pleasure like chocolate or massages, and utilitarian, products that are practical, like bread or printers.

"The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers' favour of hedonic products, while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers' preference for utilitarian products," Zhu explained.

With more than two billion smartphone users, the use of tactile technologies for online shopping alone is set to represent nearly half of all e-commerce by next year.


Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 16:32 PM

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