Exploring the effect of the human brand on consumers' decision quality in online shopping

Seong Wook Chae (SKK Business School, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Kun Chang Lee (SKK Business School and Department of Interaction Science, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Publication date: 15 February 2013



The purpose of this paper is to investigate how employing human brands affects consumers' decision quality in an online shopping environment by analysing visual attention using an eye‐tracking technique.


The experimental design used to examine the effect of human brands in an online shopping environment was a two‐factor repeated measure with two levels for each factor. The first factor of the design was a within‐factor measure of the product type, and the second was a between‐factor measure of the level of perceived decision quality. For this experiment 38 healthy participants were recruited at a university in South Korea.


First employing human brands in an online shop influences consumers' perceived decision quality. Second the results support a significant difference in perceived product trust between the two perceived decision quality levels. Finally the product type influences consumers' perceived trust towards the product.

Research limitations/implications

This research has the limitations of a relatively small sample size and the use of a sample of university students, which may not be representative of the general population. Future researchers could utilise experiments to analyse the message area of the screen for detailed product descriptions and include various samples, which could result in additional insights and generalised experimental results.

Practical implications

Employing human brands can improve consumers' decision making processes and enhance the quality of their decisions by reducing cognitive effort and appealing to consumers emotionally through heuristic choices. In addition it can increase trust towards products and, furthermore, lead consumers to think positively about the quality of the decisions they make. The paper suggests that companies apply human brands in online shops to improve consumers' decision quality and obtain competitive advantage.


One of this paper's contributions is employing a multi‐method approach, a self‐reported questionnaire and eye‐movement data, to gain a deeper understanding of the data when observing a complex phenomenon, as consumers themselves may not be aware of their reactions in such situations.



Wook Chae, S. and Chang Lee, K. (2013), "Exploring the effect of the human brand on consumers' decision quality in online shopping", Online Information Review, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 83-100. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684521311311649

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