Original Research

Can involvement increase trust in a confusing online setting? Implications for marketing strategy

Shian-Yang Tzeng, Jerry Y. Shiu
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 51, No 1 | a1817 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v51i1.1817 | © 2020 Shian-Yang Tzeng, Jerry Y. Shiu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 October 2019 | Published: 22 June 2020

About the author(s)

Shian-Yang Tzeng, Cultural Creativity and Tourism School, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China
Jerry Y. Shiu, School of Business, Macau University of Science and Technology, Macau, China

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Purpose: Customer trust toward e-commerce has been unsettled by recent unethical events. Involvement, the level of personal relevance of an object or event, has been proved to enhance trust. Nevertheless, in a complicated online shopping environment, the relationship between involvement and trust might undergo changes. Therefore, this study aims to investigate how consumer involvement can be translated into trust that is crucial to the success of online transactions in such a confusing setting.

Design/methodology/approach: This study explores the relationships between involvement (i.e., purchase and product involvement) and trust (i.e., trust in e-vendors, retail websites and brands). This study also tests the moderating effects of confusion on the purchase involvement–trust relationship. Using 570 effective samples randomly collected in Guangdong, China, this study employed structural equation modelling to test a proposed hypotheses.

Findings: The results show that purchase involvement has a negative impact on trust in e-vendors, retail websites and brands, whereas product involvement demonstrates a positive effect. Moreover, confusion reinforces the negative relationship between purchase involvement and trust in e-vendors.

Practical implications: To increase customer trust, marketers should invite regular customers to recommend their products and services, become associated with e-service providers and brands and design distinct logos, slogans and advertising styles.

Originality/value: This paper explores the direct effect of involvement on trust in multiple online contextual situations (e.g., platforms, brands and e-vendors), as well as the moderating effect of confusion on the involvement–trust relationship.


online transactions; confusion; involvement; trust; China.


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