Holiday shoppers not physically shopping, study says

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Holiday shoppers are actually bypassing  going into stores this year, as shoppers have seemingly become quite dependent on their computers with millions purchasing the newest gadgets, big ticket items and toys with simple clicks of the mouse.

The study, "Pleasure or Utility? Time Planning Style and Web Usage Behaviors," was published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing and was conducted by a University of Missouri-Columbia faculty member, along with other researchers from the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario and Quinnipiac University. It looked at the characteristics of Internet users and how they ultimately manage their time while online.

"This study is about individual differences," said Ratti Ratneshwar, a marketing professor for the University of Missouri. "Some people are just more conscious and more structured in how they use their time. Others are more spontaneous."

The researchers found that online shopping is a common reason for Internet usage - regardless of the time planning habits of users.

The researchers also investigated exploratory, entertainment and information search uses of the Web.

They focused on the time-planning element by placing users in two categories: "hedonic," representing those who access the Internet for pleasure or leisurely purposes, and "utilitarian," representing those who browse for specific reasons or tasks.

They found that hedonic users benefit primarily through exploratory, entertainment and shopping purposes.

Utilitarian users benefit more through information search and shopping purposes.

Despite the way they manage time, online shopping was the common characteristic. However, the motivations differ.

Web sites featuring navigational tools, menus and questionnaires appeal to specific types of Internet users.

"We looked at two very different segments and found that the analytically minded segment prefers easy options and easy menus," Mr. Ratneshwar said. "They are there to shop and then they are done. The other segment is more open to the hustles of the more busy sites."

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