Indian consumers' patronage intention toward shopping malls: Application of an experience economy perspective

Sadachar, Amrut
Major Professor
Ann Marie Fiore
Committee Member
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management


Organized retailing in India is growing rapidly. Malls, especially, have caught the attention of retail investors, leading to monumental growth in the number of malls in the last decade. However, this growth has not been paralleled by profitability and return on investment, which is a matter of concern for investors ("Pulse of Indian Retail," 2014). The present study applied the experience economy perspective (Pine & Gilmore, 1999) to provide insight into contributors to a better shopping experience for Indian consumers that may help ensure profitability alongside growth.

The study explored how the 4Es--educational, entertainment, escapist, and esthetic experiences--(Pine & Gilmore, 1999) contribute to experiential value from retail store and non-store aspects of the mall. The combination of retail store and non-store aspects distinguishes the mall from other retail venues. The impact of perceived experiential and functional value associated with these aspects on Indian consumers' mall satisfaction and willingness to buy from the mall's retail stores was examined. The effect of mall satisfaction and willingness to buy on mall patronage intention was tested. Factors relevant to actual purchase behavior, which was measured by capturing data on buying frequency, were examined through multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). The present study is the first to systematically examine Indian consumers' mall shopping behavior by adapting the 4E scale (Oh, Fiore, & Jeong, 2007) to empirically test the experience economy perspective in a mall context and in a non-Western, developing country (i.e., India).

Following the guidelines outlined by Sudman (1980), the data were collected through a mall intercept survey in two malls in New Delhi, India. Five hundred fifty-two completed surveys were used for the statistical analysis. The results suggest that the majority of Indian mall shoppers were young, educated, affluent, and single. All the scales proved to be reliable and valid, including the 4E scale, which was used for the first time with an Indian sample.

Analysis included confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) when testing the measurement model as a part of structural equation modeling (SEM). Structural modeling was used to assess goodness of fit and estimation parameters for hypothesized models. Hypothesis testing was conducted in two stages. In the first stage, a structural model tested the impact of the 4Es on perceived value (i.e., emotional, social, and sensory appeal value) associated with retail stores in the mall and non-store aspects of the mall (hypotheses 1 through 6). The experience economy constructs, except for the educational dimension, contributed to the perceived value associated with retail stores and/or non-store aspects of the mall.

In the second stage, second-order variables were created for experiential value and functional value. Emotional value and sensory appeal value, largely affected by esthetic experience, were two parameters contributing to the second-order experiential value variable. Social value, the remaining parameter, was solely affected by escapist experience. The second order functional value contained quality, price, service quality, and a new "pester free shopping" construct. Again, a structural model was used to test the relationships among these second order variables associated with retail stores and non-store aspects of the mall, and willingness to buy from retail stores in the mall, mall satisfaction, and mall patronage intention variables (hypotheses 7 through 12).

Experiential value associated with retail stores and non-store aspects of the mall contributed to willingness to buy from the retail stores and mall satisfaction, respectively. Willingness to buy from retail stores in the mall had a significant mediating role between the experiential value associated with retail stores in the mall and mall patronage intention. Thus, the results provide critical insight into the factors that influence Indian consumers' mall patronage intention. Also, the present study contributes to our understanding of service quality by revealing a "pester-free shopping" construct, a significant part of functional value. A supplementary test, MANOVA, was conducted to look at factors affecting those who actually purchased goods. Results suggested that when it comes to increasing sales (measured through purchase frequency), mall retailers should pay close attention to both experiential and functional aspects of their stores, and mall satisfaction.

The present study contributes to and advances the emerging body of research on the 4Es (Hosany & Witham, 2010; Jeong, Fiore, Niehm, & Lorenz, 2009; Oh et al., 2007; Quadri-Felitti & Fiore, 2012) and on malls in India (Batra, 2010; Mann, 2012; Virdi, 2011). In addition, the present study supports the usefulness of combining the consciousness-emotion-value (C-E-V) and cognition-affect-behavior (C-A-B) models within the S-O-R framework (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974), as proposed by Fiore and Kim (2007), to capture the functional and experiential value of the mall shopping experience. Consequently, the work offers new theoretical directions for organized retailing stakeholders (especially mall stakeholders) and practical insights for contemporary applications of the findings for mall developers, mall managers, and mall retailers to provide the best experiences to shoppers in Indian malls. Whereas having "everything under one roof" may suggest that functional value of malls is a main driver for consumers to patronize malls, mall stakeholders should emphasize the experiential value offered.