Understanding the effect of smart retail brand - consumer communications via mobile instant messaging (MIM) - an empirical study in the Chinese context

Vazquez, Delia, Dennis, Charles ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8793-4823 and Zhang, Yizhong (2017) Understanding the effect of smart retail brand - consumer communications via mobile instant messaging (MIM) - an empirical study in the Chinese context. Computers in Human Behavior, 77 . pp. 425-436. ISSN 0747-5632 [Article] (doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.08.018)

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Faced with competitive forces, retailers are innovating by adopting ‘smart’ technologies such as contactless, omni-channel, ubiquitous computing, social networking and mobile apps. This paper examines consumer behavior responses during the use of a mobile instant messaging (MIM) application channel adopted by a Chinese pure-play retailer. MIM is text-based, real-time, mobile computer-mediated communication technology accomplishing real-time interaction with other users regardless of location. WeChat, a full service MIM application, contains functional and social features including SMS, MMS, LBS, photo sharing, voice message, video calls and “Moments” sharing, which is its social propagating feature. There is a paucity of literature on the role of MIM in building relationships and especially, the relevance of emotion and WOM for consumers engaging in MIM human-computer interactions. The model tested was derived from prior research on trust and also Stimuli-Organism-Response (SOR) that depicts the effects of environmental/informational stimuli on consumers’ responses. Specific research objectives included investigating the prediction that environmental stimuli comprising socialness perception, media richness, and involvement induce a positive emotional state, which results in positive WOM. The study employed a quantitative approach using a questionnaire posted on a WeChat (MIM) channel. The sample comprised Chinese WeChat users, typically young consumers (n=486). SEM was used to analyze the data. Prior research has indicated that building relationships with consumers is more difficult when the relationships are consumer-computer as compared to consumer-person (face-to-face). The findings of this study suggest that such a negative effect can be alleviated by the use of MIM, which is associated with socialness perception, media richness, consumer involvement, emotional connections and positive WOM. To the authors’ knowledge, this study is original in integrating socialness perception, media richness and WOM into the SOR framework. The implications for practitioners are discussed, relating in particular to retailers’ need to be aware of the extent to which consumers are willing to engage with MIM applications.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Marketing, Branding and Tourism
Item ID: 24812
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Charles Dennis
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2018 09:59
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 20:24
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/24812

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