Adapting influence approaches to informed consumers in high-involvement purchases: are salespeople really doomed'

Research paper by Bryan Hochstein, Willy Bolander; Ronald Goldsmith; Christopher R. Plouffe

Indexed on: 12 Oct '18Published on: 05 Oct '18Published in: Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science


The availability of information and variety of online purchase options are increasing for consumers shopping for complex products (e.g., cars, real estate). This situation, and consumers’ resulting sense of informedness, has led many to suggest that the need for business-to-consumer (B2C) salespeople is diminishing. Yet, despite these claims, many purchases—especially those associated with high prices and, therefore, high consumer involvement—still require consumers to interact with salespeople. This interaction, between consumers (at varying levels of informedness) and B2C salespeople, is the focus of the current study. Merging theories of consumer informedness and adaptive interpersonal influence, we suggest that the interaction between salesperson influence attempts and consumer informedness plays an important role in purchase decisions. To study this notion, Study 1 matches automobile shoppers’ survey responses with objective purchase data from 480 sales interactions. Study 2 is a scenario-based experiment that investigates informedness and influence in a financial services setting. The findings of both studies suggest that understanding a consumer’s informedness, and adapting the proper influence approach to it, is critical if salespeople are to influence modern consumers’ purchase decisions and, thus, avoid irrelevancy.