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Caring for baby: what sources of information do mothers use and trust?

Angela Dobele (School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Jane Fry (School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Sharyn Rundle-Thiele (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Tim Fry (School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 18 October 2017

Issue publication date: 22 November 2017

Abstract

Purpose

A broad array of information channels exists for service customers. The purpose of this study is to better understand the relationship between the use of, and trust in, information channels, so that there is scope to increase the effectiveness of reliable information provision and, hence, to change behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

This study empirically explored whether customers use channels they trust, and trust what they use, and examined the association between individual (demographic) factors and that trust. A total of 472 mothers completed an online survey.

Findings

The current study empirically explored channel trust and individual factors, finding that individual factors (such as education level) and trust warrant inclusion in traditional communication models such as Communication–Human Information Processing. The findings revealed that the more highly educated a customer is, the more likely it will be that a health professional is their most trusted channel, but the less likely it will be that they consider family the most trusted channel. Magazines are the least trusted information channel. Further, while informants’ most trusted information channel was healthcare professionals, this was not the most common information channel used.

Research limitations/implications

This study was limited to a female consumer sample focused upon one service (maternity and child health) and five key information channels, which limits the generalizability. Further, the data were collected via an internet survey, which have biased may the results on use and trust of the internet.

Practical implications

The findings showcase the importance of demographic factors and the relationship between trust in information sources and use. The insights developed provide a useful research agenda for the future. This study was limited to a female consumer sample focused upon one service (maternity and child health) and five key information channels, which limits the generalizability of the findings. The data were collected via an internet survey, which may bias the results on use and trust of the internet. Additionally, the data were collected over five years ago, which may have some impact on factors such as the role and importance of internet usage. However, these limitations do not detract from the primary focus of this study and the main findings remain new and relevant.

Originality/value

This study undertook an empirical exploration to examine information channel trust and individual factors, thereby extending the research focus beyond current traditional communication model approaches. Models such as Communication–Human Information Processing focus on individual cognitions and assume a staged sequence of decision-making following traditional decision-making models and ignoring channel attributes such as channel trust, thereby limiting understanding. The current study indicates that communication models will benefit from the addition of channel trust and additional individual factors (such as demographics) to extend understanding beyond individual cognitions.

Keywords

Citation

Dobele, A., Fry, J., Rundle-Thiele, S. and Fry, T. (2017), "Caring for baby: what sources of information do mothers use and trust?", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 7, pp. 677-689. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-02-2015-0104

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited