Trust Development in E-Services: A Cohort Analysis of Millennials and Baby Boomers

34 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2013

See all articles by Michael Obal

Michael Obal

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Werner H. Kunz

University of Massachusetts

Date Written: August 7, 2013


Purpose: Building trust is crucial for e-service providers looking to develop long-term customer relationships. But consumers from dissimilar demographic groups behave differently. Therefore, this study investigates the question, How do consumers from different generational cohorts develop trust in a website?

Methodology: An experimental study focuses on the navigation, vendor advice, privacy, and feedback mechanisms of an e-tailer website. The between-subjects design tests the effects of these four drivers on the online trust of 197 Millennials and 201 Baby Boomers.

Findings: The presence of feedback mechanisms, navigation, and vendor advice are stronger determinants of online trust for Millennials than for Baby Boomers; privacy is a stronger determinant for Baby Boomers.

Limitations: This study focuses on four crucial variables of the website interface; further research should include other variables. Extensions to other e-service settings, beyond online retailers, would be interesting. Finally, this study includes only Millennials and Baby Boomers rather than members of other generations.

Implications: The results provide insights into how different generational cohorts dissimilarly develop online trust and highlight the need for managers to consider the online behaviors of cohorts when developing websites. Managers should emphasize the privacy elements for Baby Boomers but highlight navigation, vendor advice, and feedback mechanisms for Millennials.

Originality: This study is the first to research generational differences in the development of trust online.

Keywords: Online trust, e-Services, Generational cohorts, Millennials, Baby Boomers, e-tailers

Suggested Citation

Obal, Michael and Kunz, Werner H., Trust Development in E-Services: A Cohort Analysis of Millennials and Baby Boomers (August 7, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Michael Obal

University of Massachusetts Lowell ( email )

1 University Ave.
Lowell, MA 01854
United States

Werner H. Kunz (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts ( email )

M-5-213 – 100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, 02125
United States

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