The Focus Article
Arnaudovska, Bankston, Simurkova, and Budden (2010) essayed an investigation into the online versus brick-and-mortar shopping preferences of college students and published this in the very latest issue of the Journal of Applied Business Research (JABR). Published by the Clute Institute for Academic Research (2010), which owns 11 other professional journals in business, economics, and education, JABR qualifies for the criterion of this assignment in that it employs a double-blind peer-review process prior to accepting manuscripts for publication. JABR lists no less than 138 peer reviewers, chiefly teaching at private and state universities around the nation.
Quite apart from wanting to analyze shopping behavior by gender – after all, any exploratory participatory research will readily reveal that men and women shop differently and derive contrasting satisfactions from the experience – the authors aimed to explore just how sophisticated online shopping has become in the dozen-odd years since the Internet service became a reality for American families and student bodies. Among the novel facets of “Web 2.0” that emerged since 2002, according to O’Reilly (2005), is the “architecture of participation” and such popular networking tools as Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and Twitter. Even that redoubtable granddaddy of e-commerce, Amazon, has made collaborative reviews a convincing part of its site repertoire. And who are more avid users of social networking tools than adolescents and young adults? As it happens, university students are also coming on their own as consumers with a definite (but limited) disposal income. How they shop and respond to technology will likely resonate in decades to come when they comprise the mainstream middle-class market.
Formally stated (but not in the instant article), the purpose of the study was to define how males and females differed with respect to the dependent variables of: mode and frequency of shopping, items shopped for, openness to opinions of others affects about shopping, preferred shopping channel for clothes, and the aforementioned interest in the opinion of others.
The research approach was purely quantitative, employing a structured questionnaire with closed- and open-ended items. Being fairly straightforward, the study instrument permitted self-administered fieldwork. The convenience sample ran to a net of 144 respondents from a single college in the southern USA.
The sample broke down into two-thirds female (about the same as the student body), about 57% skewed towards seniors and graduate students, and dispersed in age from 17 to 26 years and up. A majority paid their own way through college.
The authors found that women enjoyed shopping more than men, though this can be explained partly by the fact that the clothing and the everyday necessities that come to mind doubtless cater more to females’ enhancement and nesting instincts. The results might have differed if cars and computers had been included in the shopping list. In any case, a good deal of the enjoyment derived seems to come from discovering that new items have become available. Shopping frequency both online and in real stores was the same, ranging from once to thrice monthly.
Most of the students preferred a physical store when shopping for clothing, though this held true more for females than males. This is likely justified by the fact that women are more finicky about fit.
University students seem to delight in having company when shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. Whether these are friends, relatives/children, or a significant other, companions are useful for a second opinion.
A brief review of five statistical concepts applied in the article:
Sample statistics – As defined (Anderson, Sweeney, and Williams, 2008), all the findings reported in the article were computed from data provided by the sample of 144 students. This concept helps us understand the reservations expressed by Arnaudovska et al. about limitations on projecting the results to the American population.
The sample mean – Defined as the average of all the data values, the article used this to compare measures of the central location of five attribute ratings for online and in-store shopping: convenience, being user-friendly, cost, speed, and ease of use. The charted means of scores given by the students on the semantic differential tended to cast online shopping in a favorable light.
Range and standard deviation – The authors did not, however, report the difference between highest and lowest scores (the range) or the squared average distance from the mean on each attribute and for every study participant (standard deviation). This would have enabled us to evaluate the rigor of the authors’ conclusion that university students were more favorably predisposed to online shopping. As it is, the chart on page 35 indicates approximately similar outlooks on both shopping channels more than anything else.
Relative frequency and percent frequency distribution –Arnaudovska et al. rely heavily on these two tabular presentations – defined, respectively as the “…fraction or proportion of the total number of data items belonging to the class” and a “…summary of the set of data showing the percent frequency for each class” (Anderson, Sweeney, and Williams, 2008) – to summarize most of their findings. For instance, table 1 in the article (page 32) reveals at a glance that students in the middle age class (22 to 25 years) are the fondest of shopping because the 78% reporting their agreement with the item is higher than those younger or older.
Anderson, D. R., Sweeney, D. J., & Williams, T. A. (2008) Essentials of statistics for business and economics (4th ed.). Florence (KY): South-Western College Pub.
Arnaudovska, E., Bankston, K., Simurkova, J. & Budden, M. C. (2010). University student shopping patterns: Internet vs. brick and mortar. Journal of Applied Business Research, 26 (1) 31-36.
Clute Institute for Academic Research (2010). Journal of applied business research (JABR). Web.
O’Reilly, T. (2005). What is web 2.0? Web.