Buying viagra online? You may still feel embarrassed

By: | Published: August 7, 2015 8:20 PM

People are often embarrassed when buying sensitive health care products such as viagra privately and online, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found.

People are often embarrassed when buying sensitive health care products such as viagra privately and online, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found.

Published studies suggest that embarrassment is something we experience only when we are around other people.

“There is a misconception that buying products online insulates consumers from being embarrassed,” said study co-author Kelly Herd from Indiana University in US.

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

The researchers initially conducted a random online survey of 177 people to find whether embarrassment is an emotion that also can be experienced in private settings.

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

Herd and her co-authors found that the intensity of embarrassment felt did not lessen when the scenario involved a private, online purchase. In fact, it often was worse.

“Participants’ desire to escape an embarrassing situation for in-public context suggests that simply removing oneself from the situation makes the negative emotions dissipate; but for embarrassing situations experienced within an in-private context, one cannot easily ‘escape’ the embarrassment,” the researchers said.

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.

The intensity of embarrassment was higher when viagra was purchased for impotence rather than for pleasure and was higher when purchased in public.

However, the feelings of embarrassment were much lower for those buying it online for non-medical reasons.

“When you buy it in public, it doesn’t matter why you’re buying it, because you perceive that people are going to judge you just for having purchased the product,” Herd said.

“In private, it’s much more nuanced you know you need it due to performance,” Herd said.

The results suggest that sellers of sensitive health care products need to make consumers feel more comfortable when buying them.

Herd said marketers and policy makers need to focus on changing cultural and social norms about seeking help for sexually transmitted diseases and consumers’ self-concepts about condoms and other products they now find embarrassing to buy.

Other authors of the study included Aradhna Krishna, professor of marketing at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and Nilufer Aydinoglu, professor of marketing at Koc University in Turkey.

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

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