Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Concrete vs. Abstract Thought

... influences preferences in buying offline or online.  This study suggests that concrete thinkers prefer shopping offline where they can touch things, while abstract thinkers prefer shopping online.

It misses some other factors, though.

* If the desired item is not widely available, that pushes people to shop online.  So online sellers can capitalize on this by offering things that are hard to find.  They'll have a harder time competing with common items.

* If the desired item has a tactile component, or reveals more information when closely examined, offline sellers have the advantage.  Take the example, a mug -- if I can see it, I can tell whether the appearance pleases me and estimate the weight.  That's enough to tell me whether or not I'd probably want to buy it.  But for clothes, I have to try them on, because texture and fit are paramount.  For a book, if it's by an unfamiliar author, I want the freedom to flip through it; and I want the opportunity to browse items on a shelf.  Online suppliers can't meet these needs.  However, if all I need to know is that a favorite author has released the next book in a series I enjoy, then I can buy online.  Offline sellers can capitalize on these aspects by emphasizing traits that don't carry online, such as the texture of fabric or the smell of leather.

As you can guess from the above, I'm fluent in both concrete and abstract thinking, but I tend to use them in different contexts.
Tags: cyberspace theory, news, science, shopping
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