Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (8.46 MB)

Investigating online shopping behaviour on mobile and fixed devices: The impact of scarcity and popularity cues

Download (8.46 MB)
posted on 2021-11-23, 00:11 authored by Hoffman, Tessa

Smartphones have become ubiquitous in consumers’ lives and have been identified as an important online channel. However, consumers have indicated a preference for purchasing products through their fixed devices, such as computers, and few studies have investigated situations where consumers might indicate greater purchase intentions on their mobile devices. This research examines the influence of scarcity messages and popularity cues on purchase intention in the context of online shopping. Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the differences between consumers using mobile and fixed devices.  Study one was a 3 (scarcity: limited quantity vs limited time vs no scarcity) x 2 (device: fixed vs smartphone) between-subjects design (N = 236). Study one found that in an online shopping context, limited-quantity scarcity messages (e.g. limited stock available) had a negative effect on purchase intention regardless of the consumer’s device. Furthermore, a consumer’s scepticism of advertising moderated the relationship. Perceived risk of online shopping was found to moderate the relationship between device and purchase intention.  Study two was a 2 (scarcity: limited quantity vs no scarcity) x 2 (popularity: ranking vs no ranking) x 2 (device: fixed vs smartphone) between-subjects design (N = 244). The study showed that a popularity cue had a positive effect on purchase intention. However, scarcity had no effect on purchase intention. Consumers in the smartphone conditions also had lower purchase intentions but this was not impacted by the inclusion of a scarcity message or popularity cue. Interestingly, credibility of the content did not moderate the relationships between scarcity and purchase intention, or popularity ranking and purchase intention.  These findings suggest that online scarcity messages do not increase purchase intention, in contrast to previous offline studies. The moderating role of scepticism on the scarcity message and purchase intention relationship indicates that consumers are suspicious of scarcity messages in an online context. However, it appears popularity cues enhance consumer purchase intentions online. Neither a scarcity message or a popularity cue increased purchase intention on a smartphone. The research demonstrates that scarcity messages are not as effective online as they have been shown to be in an offline context and that further research is required to understand how to increase consumer purchase intentions when shopping on a smartphone.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Commerce

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

School of Marketing and International Business

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Business School (Faculty of Commerce)


Johnstone, Micael-Lee; Gazley, Aaron