48 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 13, 2020
Why do consumers revisit previously searched products (“search revisits”) before making a purchase decision? Using a detailed click-stream data set from a popular hotel meta-search engine that uniquely identifies the information (photos, reviews, prices etc.) consumers obtained on every product search, we show the following. Search revisits are common, with half of all search sessions where consumers searched two or more hotels including at least one revisit. Surprisingly, most revisit behavior is not driven by consumers’ desire to look at additional information about a product, as assumed in prior work. Rather, in 70% of all revisits, consumers look at a subset of the same information that they saw on previous searches. Also, products revisited for additional information are frequently purchased. In contrast, revisits for the same information are typically short, involve more expensive and lower quality products, and are unlikely to lead to a purchase. Based on these findings, we then investigate a number of explanations for the occurrence of search revisits. Our results are consistent with consumers revisiting either to obtain more information on options they prefer or (more frequently) to eliminate inferior options from their consideration sets (thereby saving on future decision costs). We end by discussing the implications of these and other findings for modeling consumer search behavior and by deriving managerial implications of consideration set elimination for marketing mix decisions, such as ad re-targeting.
Keywords: consumer search, search revisits, consideration sets, click-stream data, re-targeting
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