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THE DIGITAL CONSUMER 29

technology. The model considers positive attitudes towards two specific measures: (a) perceived usefulness; and (b) perceived ease of use.

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The origins of TAM can be found in the ‘Theory of Reasoned Action’ (see Chapter 10, Building the Digital Marketing Plan), developed by Ajzen and Fishbein (1980). Davis used this as the initial concept but wanted an easier model that could be applied in the workplace. This feature is also one of the major criticisms of this model – its simplicity, as it is seen as being too basic. TAM has been used by many researchers in digital marketing who have added elements to make it more complicated and more relevant to today’s environment. However, TAM is still recognised as a leading model in explaining users’ behaviour towards technology and the original model continues to be used and widely understood.

People accept or reject different technologies and Davis’ research explained that peo- ple will use an application that they feel will help them perform their job better. This was named ‘Perceived Usefulness’ and was originally suggested by other researchers.

At the same time, Davis stated, if the application is too difficult to use, the benefits may be outweighed by the effort of using the application. This was called ‘Perceived Ease of Use’. Davis explained that a TAM should discover the impact of external fac- tors; and so the model starts with the external variables which could include items such as individual or group training and user guides. The flow of the model is shown in Figure 2.2 and this initial framing from the external variables contributes towards the perceptions of usefulness and ease of use, which in turn lead towards the atti- tude toward using the system. Finally, positive attitudes contribute to a behavioural intention to use the system.

Perceived Usefulness

(U)

Perceived Ease of Use

(E)

External Variables

Attitude Toward

Using (A)

Behavioral Intention to

Use (BI)

Actual System

Use

Figure 2.2 Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)

Source: Davis, Bagozzi and Warshaw, 1989

The different constructs are measured through a series of questions to identify the advantages, disadvantages and any factors associated with using the technology. It requires some statistical input to take the model through to the final conclusion.

In his 1989 research Davis explored electronic mail (or email) and he asked 14 questions to assess the Perceived Usefulness and Perceived Ease of Use at a time when it was more usual to use traditional mail. These are shown in Table 2.2 and I have added bold type to the words electronic mail to indicate how these could be replaced with another type of technology such as augmented reality, personal drones or specific apps.

 

 

DIGITAL MARKETING30

Thinking back to when Davis developed this model, many people were concerned that computers would take away their jobs. The concern about email was that it could replace the need for some letters and that people would not need secretaries any more. This is partly true and what has really happened is that we have ended up with a greater amount of communication instead of less and we have all developed secretarial skills – typing correspondence, booking diary appointments and manag- ing our contacts.

The issue is the fear of the unknown. We are witnessing this with the idea of robots taking away other jobs. What is likely to happen is that robots will perform mundane, repetitive tasks and employees in these roles will gain training to focus on other tasks.

Table 2.2 Initial scale items for Perceived Usefulness and for Perceived Ease of Use

Initial scale items for Perceived Usefulness Initial scale items for Perceived Ease of Use

1. My job would be difficult to perform without electronic mail.

2. Using electronic mail gives me greater control over my work.

3. Using electronic mail improves my job performance.

4. The electronic mail system addresses my job-related needs.

5. Using electronic mail saves me time.

6. Electronic mail enables me to accomplish tasks more quickly.

7. Electronic mail supports critical aspects of my job.

8. Using electronic mail allows me to accomplish more work than would otherwise be possible.

9. Using electronic mail reduces the time I spend on unproductive activities.

10. Using electronic mail enhances my effectiveness on the job.

11. Using electronic mail improves the quality of the work I do.

12. Using electronic mail increases my productivity.

13. Using electronic mail makes it easier to do my job.

14. Overall, I find the electronic mail system useful in my job.

1. I often become confused when I use the electronic mail system.

2. I make errors frequently when using electronic mail.

3. Interacting with the electronic mail system is often frustrating.

4. I need to consult the user manual often when using electronic mail.

5. Interacting with the electronic mail system requires a lot of my mental effort.

6. I find it easy to recover from errors encountered while using electronic mail.

7. The electronic mail system is rigid and inflexible to interact with.

8. I find it easy to get the electronic mail system to do what I want it to do.

9. The electronic mail system often behaves in unexpected ways.

10. I find it cumbersome to use the electronic mail system.

11. My interaction with the electronic mail system is easy for me to understand.

12. It is easy for me to remember how to perform tasks using the electronic mail system.

13. The electronic mail system provides helpful guidance in performing tasks.

14. Overall, I find the electronic mail system easy to use.

Source: Davis, 1989

In both cases, respondents rate the scale items which are subsequently ranked on a ‘highly likely’ to ‘highly unlikely’ scale, to deliver a statistically recognised measure. The numerical analysis is great if you have access to statistical packages (and know

 

 

THE DIGITAL CONSUMER 31

how to use them!) and if not, the model can be adapted and the questions used in a survey format.

The Technology Acceptance Model is a good foundation to test the development of new apps as it enables companies to create more useful and easier to use systems. TAM was an antecedent of measuring user experience and the questions applied in the original study are still valid today although they require some adaptation.

Activity 2.1 Application of the Technology Acceptance Model 1. Think of a technology, an app or a device that has failed.

2. In Table 2.2 replace electronic mail with your selected technology.

3. Use the questions in Table 2.2 and score the items using a 5-point scale with ‘highly likely’, ‘likely’, ‘neither likely nor unlikely’, ‘unlikely’ and ‘highly unlikely’.

4. Analyse the factors: what is the overall perceived usefulness? And the perceived ease of use?

5. Which specific factors do you feel contributed to the failure of the technology, app or device?

6. Discuss with classmates.

2.3 CHANGING DIGITAL BEHAVIOUR Whilst we are more accepting of technology there have been other behaviours that have evolved within a digital environment, including:

• Consumer power

• The rise of the prosumer

• Second screening

• Showrooming and webrooming

• Liquid consumption

These are discussed in the following parts.

2.3.1 CONSUMER POWER The power has moved from company to consumer and we have seen an increase in consumer power. Gillian Naylor, writing in the aptly named Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, created a typology of con- sumer communication in the digital age, shown in Figure 2.3. Its central focus is

 

 

DIGITAL MARKETING32

how communications have moved from business to consumer (B2C) to consumer to business (C2B) and consumer to consumer (C2C).

C2B: Phone Letter F2F

Company website Company social

media site Survey response

(online purchases, bookings, check-

ins)

Firm

3rd party consumer protection agencies,

88B, courts

C2C

Activists lrates

F2F social network

C2B

F2F social network

Social media platforms

Social media platforms

Voicers

Complaints/compliments

Social Networks

(C2C)

(-) WOM (+)WOM

Figure 2.3 Typology of consumer communication (C2B/C2C) in the digital age

Source: Naylor, 2017, p. 134

Naylor commented how ‘C2B and C2C Marketing communication is increasingly played out in other media and in view of others’ (Naylor, 2017, p. 131). These shared sentiments have given rise to different types of consumer power and she categorised four types of consumer communications: voicers, activists, social networks (includ- ing C2C) and irates.

Voicers can share opinions more easily via social media, instead of a binary consumer to business route. Whilst activists can still seek redress from the courts for specific remedies, their messages can be shared using hashtags and the cost of the legal fees could be crowdfunded. Early social networks were considered by Naylor as friends and family – we are not talking about Facebook here! So, in a pre-digital age, stories were shared with co-workers, colleagues and other personal face-to-face networks (F2F). Social media facilitated this content to be imparted to a wider audience online. This model also considers word of mouth (WoM), from a positive and negative perspective.

The final group in Figure 2.3, irates, may have previously taken forms of direct action to gain attention and ensure their point of view was heard. For example, students could have marched, protested and organised demos to complain about specific issues. Does this still occur or have social media campaigns become the new normal?

Naylor further described different types of communication methods such as phone, letter, face-to-face (F2F), company website, social media and via third parties, and within this the concept of user-generated content, noted as a way for consumers to communicate and engage with brands. Chapter 4 considers the area of user-generated content (see Key Term, p. 115) in more depth.

 

 

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2.3.2 THE RISE OF THE PROSUMER American futurologist Alvin Toffler is largely credited with creating the term ‘pro- sumer’ in his 1980 book The Third Wave: The Classic Study of Tomorrow (Toffler, 1980). He combined the words ‘producer’ and ‘consumer’ to form ‘prosumer’, as consumers had become producers of goods and services. There are many examples of this, such as Wikipedia where individuals both add and consume content on the site. This is one of the many reasons it contains errors – you or I can add content that may or may not be accurate, true or relevant.

Other examples are user-generated content (see Chapter 4), where consumers post images of products purchased, producing free advertising material for companies.

Case Example 2.1 Open Source and the Prosumer Most software sales models are based on a licence being sold. If you want to access Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, you need to buy a licence. You are a consumer, you pay your money and access the product.

The opposite to this model is the Open Source movement, which advocates the development of software ‘that can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone’ (Opensource.org, n.d., p. 1). The developers create and share free software and the rules state that when you download it, if you adapt it to incorporate additional features you re-share it across the Open Source platform. The software is still accessed by a licence, so you can be advised of updates. This online community is self-managed and self-regulated so no one truly owns the software.

There are many competitors to Microsoft’s Office packages, including: Apache OpenOffice, LibreOf- fice and NeoOffice. These packages may not have the full functionality of a full MS Office suite, but most users only take advantage of a small percentage of the tools and they are popular with many businesses.

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