Is it better to communicate product information abstractly or concretely? The role of consumer product expertise and shopping-stage mindset
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Purpose – This paper aims to investigate the effect of product-related description abstractness/concreteness on perceived trustworthiness and the role of consumer product expertise and shopping-stage mindset in the persuasiveness of abstract vs concrete product descriptions. Design/methodology/approach – Two online experiments were conducted: Study 1 (description abstractness – manipulated between-subject; consumer product expertise, perceived trustworthiness, purchase intent – measured), Study 2 (consumer shopping-stage mindset – manipulated between-subject; description abstractness – manipulated within-subject; consumer product expertise, perceived trustworthiness, abstract/concrete description preference – measured). Findings – The negative effect of the abstractness (abstract descriptions vs the ones supplemented with relevant product details) on description trustworthiness was evidenced in Study 1. Trustworthiness was positively related to purchase intent, especially for high product expertise. Study 2 replicated the effect of product description abstractness on its trustworthiness in terms of two other forms of abstractness (abstract descriptions vs the ones supplemented with irrelevant product details and product benefits vs attributes). The goal-oriented (vs comparative) mindset had a positive effect on the benefit (vs attribute) description preference, especially for high product expertise. Practical implications – For marketers, the results suggest the positive consequences of presenting concrete information on product attributes and the conditions enhancing the effectiveness of presenting product benefits. Originality/value – The paper integrates the existing views on consumer response to abstract vs concrete information (lexical abstractness/ concreteness, means-end chain theory) and links them to consumer product expertise and shopping-stage mindset.