Customers’ willingness to disclose personal information throughout the customer purchase journey in retailing: the role of perceived warmth

Gaetano Aiello, Raffaele Donvito, Diletta Acuti, Laura Grazzini, Valentina Mazzoli, Virginia Vannucci, Giampaolo Viglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Consumers show increasing levels of concern regarding disclosing information to companies, as retailers’ access to their personal information heightens their feelings of vulnerability. Although customers’ personal information is crucial for targeting actual and potential customers, the extant discussion regarding the determinants of customers’ willingness to disclose personal information is limited. Drawing upon social judgment theory, this study investigates how consumers experience different levels of perceived warmth, which alleviates privacy concerns and, in turn, affects their willingness to disclose personal information during different stages of the online customer purchase journey.

A mixed-method design combining a focus group (Study 1), an online experiment, a field study and a laboratory experiment (Studies 2, 3 and 4) provide a multifaceted representation of this phenomenon. The results show that compared to the prepurchase phase, asking for personal information at the end of the online customer purchase journey (i.e., purchase and postpurchase phases) leads to a higher perception of warmth and lower privacy concerns, thereby increasing customers’ disclosure of personal data. The findings are robust to consumers’ brand familiarity and other relevant sociodemographic variables. This research provides insightful theoretical and practical implications for retailers regarding how to enhance perceived warmth and improve customers’ willingness to disclose personal information.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
Pages (from-to)490-506
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Retailing
Volume96
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Customer purchase journey
  • Perceived warmth
  • Privacy concerns
  • Willingness to disclose
  • Mixed-method
  • Field experiment

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