Perceived Security Risk and Shopping Behavior: An Exposition in Emerging Markets: An Abstract
Perceived security risk refers to consumers’ perceptions of the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime (Rader, May, & Goodrum, 2007). Consumers’ cognitive perception of the threat of criminal victimization and associated emotional fear may drastically affect their daily lives and behavior (Rader et al., 2007). For instance, perceived security risk may influence consumers’ conspicuous consumption, shopping intentions, shopping times and locations, and brand-directed behaviors. Although crime and perceived security risk are prevalent in all countries and economies, they are heightened in emerging markets and, as more firms look to emerging markets for growth, it is important to understand the effects of perceived security risk on consumption.
However, there is limited research on perceptions of crime and security risk on consumer behavior. Studies on criminology, law, and sociology (e.g., Garofalo, 1981; Stanko, 2009) indicate that perceptions of security risk increase consumers’ anxiety, which in turn leads them to behave differently than under normal circumstances and creates defensive behaviors to minimize potential crime consequences. However, most studies concentrate on fear of crime or victimization (i.e., emotional response to crime) and do not address how perceived security risk (i.e., cognitive response to crime) affects consumption behavior.
Using a series of interviews and an experiment conducted with consumers in a major metropolitan area of Southwestern Colombia, this study explores effects of perceived security risk on consumption behaviors. The results indicate that perceived institutional risk increases perceived security risk, which in turn, decreases purchase intentions. Tendency toward risk does not affect either perceived security risk or purchase intentions. However, consumers create risk reduction strategies to reduce perceived security and institutional risks and engage in modified consumption behavior. For consumers, security and convenience are traded off for a good bargain; they minimize perceived security risk by changing their appearance, hiding their valuables, etc. so they can get a good bargain despite security risks and lack of institutional safeguards. Consumers use different strategies, including not displaying and/or using the items purchased, to minimize security risk. Future studies can validate results by including a broader number of emerging markets and identifying differences in effects of and responses to perceived security risk across emerging and developed markets.