Large Online Produce Catalog Space Indicates High Store Price: Understanding Customers’ Overgeneralization and Illogical Inference
Previous research has shown that because offlfline store space is costly, customers tend to associate large interstitial space among products in a bricks-and-mortar store with high price. Drawing on consumer inference and signaling theories, the present research suggests this offlfline association could be overgeneralized to online contexts and lead customers to illogically infer high price based on large interstitial space among products in an online product catalog (i.e., online product catalog space, OPCS). We conducted fifive experiments to test whether and why OPCS affects customers’ online store price perception and its downstream effect on store evaluation. Our fifindings indicate that (1) an online store with larger OPCS is perceived to be selling more expensive products(Study 1); (2) the effect of OPCS is due to offlfline–online overgeneralization rather than online learning, because either a reminder of offlfline–online differences (Study 2) or suf-fificient web design knowledge (Study 3) diminishes the effect of OPCS on store price perception, and only people who believe that large offlfline space is linked with high price show this effect (Study 4); and (3) customers who care more about quality evaluate a store with larger OPCS more positively, whereas customers who care more about price do the opposite (Study 5). These fifindings contribute to literatures on web design, price perception, consumer inference in e-commerce, and offlfline–online behavior transfer. We also discuss implications for practice and offer suggestions for future works.