Relationship of body satisfaction to virtual product experience and perceived risk of product performance in online and multi-channel apparel shopping

Yu, Ui-jeen
Major Professor
Mary Lynn Damhorst
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

The purpose of this study was to investigate how consumers' body satisfaction relates to utilitarian and hedonic perceptions of virtual product experience, perceived risks of product performance, attitudes toward product and brand, and behavioral intentions toward information search and purchase across shopping channels. A conceptual model was developed, combining two theories: perceived risk theory and the technology acceptance model.

A Web-based experimental survey was conducted. Out of 7,000 female college students randomly selected from a large midwestern university in the U.S., 403 female students responded. Findings from SEM analysis showed that individuals' satisfaction with their own bodies positively related to perceived enjoyment of virtual product experience and indirectly related to perceived risk of product performance, attitude toward product or brand, and channel choice and usage intentions for pre-purchase information search and purchase. Perceived enjoyment of virtual product experience was an intervening variable on the relationships between body satisfaction and the other risk perception and attitudinal and behavioral response variables.

Hedonic product experience in online apparel shopping helped consumers with higher body satisfaction to alleviate perceived risks of product performance, facilitate more favorable attitude toward product or brand, and increase behavioral intentions for information search offline and purchase online. The findings provide an understanding that current prevailing risk reduction strategies in online apparel markets--virtual product experience technology and multi-channel retailing--are more effective for consumers with stronger body satisfaction.

In addition, multi-group SEM analysis revealed significant differences of virtual product experience, risk perception, and channel usage intention between online shoppers and online browsers (or in-store shoppers). The online shoppers seemed to perceive more usefulness of virtual product experience and had more information search intention offline than did the online browsers.

The findings have managerial implications for multi-channel apparel marketers and retailers to improve risk reduction strategies of online apparel retailing in the body-absent environment of internet shopping and to promote channel adoption and usage for both information search and purchase, thereby creating cross-shopping synergy.