Buying sensitive product online or in-person, either way embarrassing

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Washington | Published: August 10, 2015 8:01:44 AM

A new study has revealed that people are often embarrassed when buying sensitive health care products, irrespective of in-person or online purchase.

A new study has revealed that people are often embarrassed when buying sensitive health care products, irrespective of in-person or online purchase.

Kelly Herd of the IU Kelley School of Business said that there was a misconception that buying products online insulates consumers from being embarrassed.

Herd said that while the product may arrive at the doorstep discretely, the act of purchasing is what triggers the embarrassment.

She added that the person still feel embarrassment because they are judging themselves.

For the research, 177 random people were asked to describe their own publicly and privately embarrassing experiences.

A follow-up survey of 124 people presented them with a potentially embarrassing scenario involving purchasing an over-the-counter medication for incontinence.

Herd found that the intensity of embarrassment felt did not lessen when the scenario involved a private, online purchase.

The researchers conducted a third study involving purchases of Viagra for impotence versus pleasure.

They surveyed 304 men over the age of 35, reflecting the target market for the erectile dysfunction product.

Not surprisingly, the intensity of embarrassment was higher when Viagra was purchased for impotence rather than for pleasure and was higher when purchased in public.

Herd said that when people buy it (Viagra) in public, it doesn’t matter why they are buying it because you perceive that others are going to judge them just for having purchased the product, adding that in private, it’s much more nuanced.

The paper’s results suggested that sellers of sensitive health care products need to make consumers feel more comfortable when buying such products.

The study is published in the journal of Consumer Psychology.

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