Investigating consumer confusion from a cultural perspective : evidence from the Saudi Arabian smartphone market

  • A Al Yahya, Mansour Abdullah K

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


With the increase of digital media, there is an excess of information about products and services in the marketplace. In addition, products are becoming more complex. These factors are contributing to consumer confusion, which is an uncomfortable psychological experience caused by exposure to marketing information that could be similar, misleading, ambiguous, or unnatural. Such a problem could increase in the future, as rapid developments in technology are contributing to multiply sources of information. In recent years, many studies have concluded that consumer confusion proneness, as it has several influences on behavioural outcomes, is a topic in need of ongoing investigation. With this in mind, the present study seeks to shed light on the phenomenon of consumer confusion in the Saudi Arabian smartphone market by identifying and analysing the cultural factors contributing to consumer confusion. The overall aim of this thesis is to explore the impact of cultural dimensions on consumer confusion in the Saudi Arabian smartphone market. Furthermore, the research objectives of this study are fourfold: (1) to explore the aspects of consumer confusion influencing consumers in the Saudi Arabian smartphone market; (2) to investigate the effect of consumer confusion proneness on three behavioural outcomes: customer satisfaction, word-of-mouth behaviour, and brand loyalty among consumers in the Saudi Arabian smartphone market; (3) to examine the moderating role of cultural dimensions on the relationship between consumer confusion proneness and its consequences; and (4) to identify the main strategies for minimising consumer confusion based on cultural factors. A conceptual model based on consumer confusion and the culture literature was developed in order to form hypotheses to predict the causality between the selected variables. A quantitative research approach was adopted in this research, reflecting a postpositivist philosophical framework. A self-administrated questionnaire was generated to collect the data, and the analysis technique employed to test the research hypotheses was structural equation modelling (SEM). As one of this first studies in this area to examine a Middle East society, it was found that incertitude confusion (overload/ambiguity) is the most influential aspect on consumer confusion for consumers purchasing smartphones in Saudi Arabia. The findings also highlight that customers in Saudi Arabia do not perceive the similarity of smartphones as contributing towards confusion. In addition, customers prone to incertitude confusion are likely to be dissatisfied and engage less in word-of-mouth behaviour, but they are more likely to display brand loyalty. The findings outline a role for previously unexplored cultural variables, i.e. social interaction, language barriers, and risk aversion, and their probable moderating influences on consumer confusion proneness and its behavioural consequences. This study has responded to previous calls for research to explore the cultural elements impacting on the construct of consumer confusion (Shukla, Banerjee and Adidam, 2010; Walsh et al., 2016) and to establish the cultural variables influencing consumers proneness to confusion while purchasing smartphones. By exploring the role of cultural dimensions in consumer confusion and its consequences, this research provides key managerial implications as well as theoretical contributions by extending the understanding of consumer confusion in relation to the role of cultural variables, thus enriching the construct of consumer confusion. Consequently, a number of theoretical, marketing, and consumer implications have been identified from this study's empirical results. This thesis also opens the door for fellow researchers to expand upon the concept of consumer confusio
Date of Award25 Sep 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorGraeme McLean (Supervisor) & Spiros Gounaris (Supervisor)

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