Service sector

Different channels for different services: information sources for services with search, experience and credence attributes

A first step in many decision-making processes is a search for information. This paper focuses on the means consumers use to access information prior to contracting services. It uses two different theoretical perspectives, namely, the economic approach and the psychological approach), and the specific aim is to compare consumers’ choice of source when seeking information prior to contracting services with different levels of search, experience or credence attributes. The modelling technique is mixed regression models, which allow the use of standard errors robust to within-group correlation. Our review of the data from a sample of 492 consumers and nine different services (three for each attribute category) shows that consumers use fewer information sources and show less search intensity when the purchase involves a service with search attributes than when it involves either of the other types. The highest levels of information search intensity and online media usage are found in relation to services with experience attributes. Fewer sources are consulted for purchases involving services with credence qualities than for those involving the other types, but the information obtained has a greater impact on decision making. The information sources most commonly-used are personal contacts and offline media.