First Thoughts on the Impact of Anthropomorphism on Showrooming Behavior: An Abstract

Sandrine Heitz-Spahn, Rajiv Vaidyanathan, Nina Belei

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


With the rapid growth of Internet retailing and the widespread availability of Internet-connected devices in almost every pocket, brick-and-mortar retailers have begun to observe some dramatic changes in consumer shopping behavior. Increasingly, consumers are engaging in showrooming—visiting a physical store to search for information and completing the purchase with a competing retailer online, which sells at a lower price. According to the GfK Future Buy study (2014), 28% of the consumers in the United States adopt showrooming behavior. Showrooming behavior eats away the motivation of any retailer to invest in its facilities, product promotion, and salesforce development (Singley and William 1995), lowers sales force morale, and leads to reduced selling effectiveness and customer service (Tang and Xing 2001; Rapp et al. 2015). The purpose of this research is to explore ways in which brick-and-mortar retailers can add value for consumers by focusing on the consumer relationship with the store and shift consumers away from making a purely price-based decision. The idea is to compete against online stores by building on social bonds that retailers can create with their customers. While a vast amount of the literature has focused on product anthropomorphization, this research project plans to explore the role of store anthropomorphization in affecting the relationship between consumers and their willingness to use brick-and-mortar retailers as showrooms before making a purchase with a competing online retailer. Anthropomorphizing an object has been shown to lead consumers to perceive the object as having humanlike characteristics, including mindfulness, effortful thinking, and the capacity to evaluate others (e.g., Epley and Waytz 2009). Once an object is anthropomorphized, it becomes possible for consumers to enter into a quasi-social relationship with it (Wang et al. 2007). The literature has shown that brand anthropomorphization affects consumer reactions to the product (Kwak 2015). However, there is very limited research on store-brand anthropomorphization. In the context of showrooming behavior, the social agency relationship the consumers are violating by showrooming is with the store and not the product. Product anthropomorphization may still serve as a reminder to consumers of the social influence of their actions. With this research project, we hope to achieve four goals: (1) confirm the finding of Chiou et al. (2012) that consumers actually recognize the negative impact to the store of their showrooming behavior, (2) examine the effect of both product and store-brand anthropomorphization on consumer reactions, (3) study the differential effect of anthropomorphization on men and women, and (4) show that store-brand anthropomorphization (compared to product anthropomorphization) is more likely to mitigate showrooming behavior, mediated by the perception that the brand can make moral judgments (Macinnis and Folkes 2017).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDevelopments in Marketing Science
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6173

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially funded by the AMS-AFM Research Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Academy of Marketing Science.


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