What do people think about autonomous delivery robots? An investigation of the consumer acceptance in different application contexts

Delivery Robot

Autonomous delivery robots are electrically powered vehicles that move either on the ground or on the road to bring goods to costumers. The usage of autonomous delivery robots for food and package delivery is increasing. While the robots are already used in the US since 2018, first pilot projects in German cities are currently implemented. Due to their opportunities for society and costumers, delivery robots have the potential to become an integral part of the future’s cityscape. The robots offer environmentally friendlier deliveries as well as a logistical answer to the growing number of online deliveries. Besides, the delivery robots can meet customer demands like higher flexibility as well as faster and cheaper deliveries.

However, consumer acceptance is fundamental for the successful introduction of this innovation. Despite the relevance of the topic, little empirical literature on consumer acceptance of autonomous delivery robots can be found. Furthermore, acceptance research on autonomous delivery robots has so far hardly differentiated between the main areas of application of the robots, i.e., parcel and food deliveries, although descriptive studies show differences in acceptance.

Delivery Robot

Thus, this research work of two business psychology students from the Stuttgart University of Applied Science (HFT Stuttgart), empirically investigates the acceptance of autonomous delivery robots for last mile deliveries in Germany. Next to the level of acceptance and factors influencing acceptance, current application scenarios were investigated, and possibly further application scenarios were explored. Therefore, a multi-method approach with a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews was conducted.

Study 1 and Study 2:

The first study was a quantitative online survey with 420 participants, of which 58,81 % are identified as female, 40,71 % as male and 0,48 % as non-binary. The participants covered an age range from 18 to 86 years (Ø 37 years). Overall, students and full-time workers formed the largest group of respondents. The goal of the study was to investigate the level of acceptance as well as factors influencing acceptance. In addition, differences in the application context of the delivery robots (meal and parcel deliveries) were investigated.

In the second study, semi-standardized interviews were conducted with 14 individuals representing three age groups (18-25 years, 26-35 years, and 36-55 years). Among them were students, employees, job seekers, self-employed workers, and persons on parental leave. In this study, reasons for acceptance were investigated and exploratory research was conducted to determine further accepted application scenarios of autonomous delivery robots.

Acceptance of parcel and meal deliveries

The quantitative study showed a medium level of acceptance of autonomous delivery robots, with perceived effort and expected performance being the key influencing factors for acceptance. The overall acceptance was higher for parcel deliveries than for meal deliveries, so individuals would rather use them for parcel deliveries than for food deliveries. They expect a higher performance of the delivery robots for parcel deliveries, which was also found in the qualitative research. No significant difference in the perceived effort of using the robots for meal or package delivery was found.

The qualitative study found that the acceptance is influenced by comparing the autonomous delivery robots with conventional alternatives. It was mentioned that the participants would not use delivery robots if there was no added value in comparison to current delivery alternatives. For example, interviewees consider autonomous delivery robots for parcel deliveries primarily if they are faster than conventional express delivery. Besides, most interviewees would not use autonomous delivery robots for meal deliveries if they were more expensive than traditional meal delivery services. Next to that, punctuality, and quality of delivery (e.g., order to be hot or cold) are central arguments for acceptance of delivery robots.

Further application areas

 The qualitative survey investigated other possible application areas for autonomous delivery robots. Most interviewees named grocery deliveries as a possible application area as it is considered with convenience, short delivery times, and use in emergency situations (e.g., lack of time or illness). Besides, almost half of the respondents could imagine using delivery robots for parcel return. Also, almost half of interview participants were interested in using the robots for the delivery of pharmaceuticals. Predominantly female interviewees were interested in the application areas of drugstores, cosmetics, and fashion. Other application scenarios mentioned were bakery deliveries, deliveries of products which are uncomfortable to buy (e.g., intimate care and hygiene items), personal shipments like gift delivery (e.g., flowers) or returning books to the library.

However, most interviewees consider autonomous delivery robots mainly in emergency situations, especially in cases of illness or pain, in cases of high time pressure or when shopping is complicated by the presence of children. Respondents could not imagine using the robots for high-priced and larger items, electronics, pet shipping.


The current study investigated the acceptance of autonomous delivery robots for the last mile in Germany, in particular whether and how it differs in current and future application areas.

The quantitative study shows a medium level acceptance of autonomous delivery robots in Germany. This highlights a need for action regarding the acceptance of autonomous delivery robots to ensure their successful implementation. The study confirms perceived effort and perceived performance as key determinants of acceptance. Companies should increase the perceived performance of delivery robots and reduce the perceived effort to achieve an increase in acceptance. In addition, the study shows higher acceptance of delivery robots for package deliveries than for meal orders. As the delivery robots are currently mostly used for meal deliveries, the adoption of autonomous delivery robots for parcel deliveries should be further pushed.

The qualitative research showed that application areas in which respondents perceive an optimization of their current delivery situation through autonomous delivery robots are favored. Accordingly, package deliveries are only considered beneficial if interviewees already recognize such an improvement through certain aspects (e.g., sustainability) or expect such an improvement (e.g., faster delivery). The improved usage situation should be highlighted in applications with alternative delivery options (e.g., shorter waiting times or by marketing delivery robots as the fastest delivery option for package deliveries).

In the case of meal delivery, indifference was largely apparent, since conventional delivery services already deliver on similar terms. Therefore, respondents would even reject delivery robots if this would represent the more expensive delivery option. Marketing should focus on highlighting an increased costumer value by using delivery robots, e.g., by free of charge delivery or better quality of delivered meals by offering a warming or cooling function in the robots.

In the area of further application areas, the qualitative studies revealed that the delivery of food or pharmaceuticals and the processing of returns are lucrative areas of application. Respondents do not perceive any comparable alternatives in these fields of application and value the convenience and speed aspects.

It is also apparent that autonomous delivery robots would still be used in emergency or exceptional situations, even if they were generally rejected in one area of application. It might therefore be useful to emphasize this ‚emergency‘ character in communication and deployment: Autonomous delivery robots could be presented as a delivery option for situations in which consumers cannot act themselves (e.g., lack of time, illness, child supervision).


Surya De Benedetto and Ronja Kaiser




How does the optimal mobility app look like? – An investigation of usage expectations, usage barriers and usability aspects

The Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB) has been providing mobility services in public transport in Stuttgart and the surrounding area for over 150 years. The goal of the SSB is to fulfill its tasks as customer-friendly as possible and thus to gain additional passengers – especially with a view to air pollution control. As an important step to increase the attractiveness of public transport in Stuttgart, the so-called polygo app is now to be developed. The polygo app is intended to become a user-friendly information and booking platform which offers access to multi-modal mobility offers in Stuttgart and the region. Mobility services offered by SSB FLEX, as well as bicycle rental, carsharing and e-scooter providers are to be integrated in the app.

Source: SSB AG

In their research, a team of six business psychology students from the Stuttgart University of Applied Science (HFT Stuttgart) identified usage expectations, potential usage barriers and usability improvements in order to support the SSB to achieve their goal of making the polygo app one of the top 3 mobility apps in Stuttgart. For this purpose, the team followed a multi-method approach and conducted three studies: qualitative interviews, a quantitative survey, and a usability test.

Study 1 and Study 2:

In the first study, 18 qualitative interviews were conducted with non-users, occasional users and regular users of public transport that were either students, trainees, or working people between 20 and 54 years. The goal was to find out what users expect from an optimally designed mobility app and what may be potential usage barriers. The next study was a quantitative survey with a 111 participants that lived within the area that is served by the mobility provider. The sample consisted of university students, working people, trainees, and high school students. Overall, 67% identified as female, 31% as male and 2% as non-binary. The aim of the survey was to gain a broader insight into the importance of certain features and exclusion criteria identified in the first study.
Nearly all participants of the qualitative and quantitative study who were either regular or occasional users have already downloaded a mobility app. Surprisingly, this has also been true for most of the non-users of public transport services. A big share of these non-users had downloaded the Deutsche Bahn app with the intention to use it for cross-regional connections.

Usage expectations

The qualitative interviews revealed that quick and simple processes, a good overview, and the possibility of personalization, for example in the form of saving routes as favorites, are important success factors for a mobility app. The most important overview-granting functions were the display of the fastest route as well as of delays and cancellations and the possibility to search for a concrete address instead of having to type in the name of the station.
Further, interview participants stated that they would only exchange their currently used mobility app when the polygo app offered new and more attractive functions. Suggestions for attractive functions made by the interviewees, such as the possibility to rebook and reverse tickets directly in the app and the possibility to use the app without an internet connection were also rated positively in the quantitative survey. The BestPreis function which was developed by SSB was perceived very positively by the participants of both, the qualitative and the quantitative, study. This function enables the users to save money when using public transport: Before each ride, a ticket is booked. With the first booking of a ticket, the period under observation starts. In this period, all booked tickets are gathered and saved. At the end of the period under observation, the cheapest ticket combination is calculated, and the respective sum debited.
For some participants, an innovative mobility app should also consider future development opportunities such as the possibility to book a car via the app which then drives to your home autonomously to pick you up.

Usage barriers

Examples of no-go’s mentioned by a large share of the participants are the display of incorrect connections, costs for downloading the app and dubious payment methods. Apart from that, non-users stated independence and comfort as reasons for not using public transport and associated apps.

Study 3:

In a third step, the usability of the app was tested with a sample of 12 participants who used the comparable competitor app “WienMobil”. This app was chosen for the usability test because the future polygo app is to be designed by the same provider and will offer similar functions and features. The aim was to reveal potential usability problems and to generate suggestions for improvements. The basis of the procedure in this test was the well-established usability test method of „thinking aloud“. The usability test consisted of a briefing, a test task, a post-session interview and a subsequent questionnaire. Five different tasks were set, such as e.g. the planning of a route, enabling the display of CO2 emissions for all suggested routes, or registering for a mobility service.

Usability improvements

Overall, the usability test showed great results. In the use case of planning a route, participants immediately recognized where to type in the start and destination. Moreover, they valued the color-coded display of connections in the app, as well as the auto-complete function when typing in destinations. The app menu is perceived as well-structured and the registration process for mobility partners is clear.
Participants also expressed ideas that could further improve the usability, such as the display of favorite routes on a map or the option to sort mobility service partners by different criteria.
As for improvements, the test revealed some minor, major, and critical issues when using the app. The identification of favorized routes and the issue, that the ticket button did not appear in every view of the app posed minor problems. Moreover, participants were unable to locate the function that sorts the suggested routes by CO2 emissions which represented a major issue. Therefore, participants wished that CO2 emissions for suggested routes are displayed by default. Finally, the usability test revealed two critical issues. In one view, the field for entering the start and destination of the trip were interchanged, making it impossible for participants to complete the task. Besides that, the procedure for favorizing routes was not intuitive.


The present research investigated usage expectations, usage barriers and usability aspects of a mobility app. The findings show that users expect an optimal mobility app to be simple to use and to offer options for personalization to make the use even more convenient. In order to encourage users of currently available mobility apps to switch to polygo, added value has to be provided to customers. This can be in the form of advanced functions, such as rebooking and reversing purchased tickets automatically within the app. To target non-users of mobility apps, one could consider including cross-regional connections. However, it has to be assessed, whether this function would encourage non-users to use public transport more often, since some stated motives for non-usage to which an app cannot react to, such as independence and comfort. Regarding the usability of the polygo app, the search for mobility partners should be improved through e.g. including filters in order to facilitate more efficient navigation on the app. Summing up, the optimal mobility app should be easy and smooth to navigate, while offering options for customization and advanced functions, to motivate customers to use it and encourage a sustainable way of transportation.


What’s your take on this? How would your perfect mobility app look like? We’re happy to hear about your ideas.

Green Beauty – factors influencing consumers‘ acceptance of green personal care products

Efforts to combat climate change require action at all levels. Therefore, environmental sustainability is also a topic of increasing relevance in the cosmetics industry.


Cosmetic products are used by the vast majority of people on a daily basis and have a high environmental impact during their product life cycle due to ingredients and materials used and the entire manufacturing process (Cosmetics Europe, 2017). Hence, cosmetic manufacturers are obliged to take responsibility and produce more ecological alternatives of these millions of products used every day. The cosmetics industry and its business practices are increasingly being scrutinized by consumers, who are becoming more aware that their consumption decisions can have a direct impact on the environment as well as on themselves (Sahota, 2013). Due to a rising level of education and improved access to information consumers are led to increasingly questioning product ingredients, product origins, production methods as well as environmental and ethical impacts of products (Sahota, 2013).

These changes in consumerism and rising health and environmental consciousness have already increased the demand for living a healthier lifestyle and for consuming more natural and organic personal care products (Ghazali et al., 2017). Natural and organic personal care products are products that are used for the care or cleaning of hair, skin, nails, or teeth (e.g. deodorant, soap, shampoo; Kim & Chung, 2011; Todd, 2004; Wu & Chen, 2012). They are made from natural raw materials, which are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. In addition, raw materials from dead vertebrates and ingredients based on mineral oil such as paraffins, silicones or polyethylene glycols (PEG) as well as solid plastic particles are not used (Industrieverband Körperpflege- und Waschmittel e.V., 2020; Verbraucher Initiative e.V., 2019). Organic personal care products are mostly certified by various private labels such as NaTrue, BDIH, Cosmos, or EcoCert.

Due to the increasing relevance of more environmentally conscious and healthier consumption the market for green and organic cosmetics is expanding globally, while the market for conventional cosmetics is mostly stagnating (Industrieverband Körperpflege- und Waschmittel e.V., 2020; POS kompakt, 2019; Sahota, 2013). In Germany, one of the leading European markets for natural and organic cosmetics, the market volume reached more than 1.38 billion Euros in 2019 (Dambacher, 2019; Statista, 2020). Considering this substantial market volume and the significant growth potential (Future Market Insights, 2020), the market for green personal care products represents an important sector that requires in-depth investigation (Liobikienė et al., 2017). In particular, understanding German consumers’ underlying decisions for the acceptance of organic personal care products is worthwhile due to the recent trends and transition into a greener cosmetics market.

In her research, Kathrin Railjan from the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences addressed this issue and identified the key factors influencing the acceptance of green personal care products. For this purpose, the theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) was extended by including other influencing factors that have been shown to be relevant in previous research on green consumption. Survey data from 321 respondents were used to analyse this comprehensive research model using a Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM). The findings revealed that a higher health consciousness and the willingness to pay a higher price compared to conventional cosmetic products as well as a more positive attitude towards the purchase lead to a higher acceptance of green personal care products. In addition, consumers who tend to feel able to make an effective contribution to environmental protection by buying green personal care products (perceived consumer effectiveness) or consumers who know exactly how and where they can purchase such products (control on availability), show a higher acceptance. Furthermore, consumers are more likely to be influenced by people that are important to them like family members or friends (descriptive/injunctive personal norm) in comparison to the purchasing behaviour of society (descriptive social norm). A perceived social pressure to buy green personal care products (injunctive social norm) even causes a lower acceptance of green personal care products.

The factor attitude has the greatest effect on acceptance and is significantly positively influenced by consumers‘ environmental consciousness and product knowledge as well as their perception of how environmentally friendly or healthy (perceived environmental or health product value) the product is compared to conventional alternatives. The attitude is also able to explain the correlation between environmental consciousness and acceptance, so that more environmentally conscious consumers have a more positive attitude towards buying green personal care products and consequently show a higher acceptance. Another finding of the study is also that women are more likely to purchase green personal care products due to their higher environmental consciousness and associated more positive attitude towards the purchase.

What does this mean for practice? Marketers should inform consumers about the specific characteristics of green personal care products in more detail and utilise miniature samples to induce trials. It is also advisable to place green personal care products more visible, to provide consumers with more specific information about where (e.g. in which stores) they can purchase them and about the possible contribution to environmental protection that they can make by purchasing green personal care products. Moreover, marketers should communicate the product advantages of green personal care products (e.g. environmental or health product value) compared to conventional products. To increase acceptance marketers can also implement referral programs. Since the current research showed that the feeling of a certain pressure from society to use green personal care products leads to a reduced acceptance, marketers should refrain from messages that refer to the widespread use of green personal care products in society. In order to increase environmental and health consciousness, public awareness campaigns could be used (e.g. information on the impact of the use of cosmetic products on the environment and human health).

To sum up, the findings are a promising starting point for the conception of target group-specific strategies, the establishment of a strong product positioning as well as the use of effective marketing activities, which include a deep understanding of consumers and focus on the promotion of the central factors influencing their acceptance of green personal care products.

What is your opinion on natural and organic cosmetic products? Do you already buy them on a regular basis? We look forward to hearing about your experiences.


Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T

Cosmetics Europe (Ed.). (2017). Socio-economic development & environmental sustainability: The European Cosmetics Industry´s Contribution 2017. https://www.cosmeticseurope.eu/files/8614/9738/2777/CE_Socio-economic_development_and_environmental_sustainability_report_2017.pdf

Dambacher, E. (2019). Natural & Organic Cosmetics Market 2018. https://www.naturkosmetik-konzepte.de/naturkosmetik-konzepte-presse.html?file=files/naturkosmetikkonzepte/userfiles/presse/2019/PressRelease_NOC_Cosmetics_Germany_2018.pdf

Future Market Insights (Ed.). (2020). Sales of Natural Cosmetics Market to Soar Rapidly, Supported by Increased Demand for Men Grooming Products, Finds FMI. https://www.futuremarketinsights.com/press-release/natural-cosmetics-market

Ghazali, E., Soon, P. C., Mutum, D. S. & Nguyen, B. (2017). Health and cosmetics: Investigating consumers’ values for buying organic personal care products. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 39, 154–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2017.08.002

Industrieverband Körperpflege- und Waschmittel e.V. (Ed.). (2020). Naturkosmetik: Zwischen Wunsch und Realität. https://www.dialog-kosmetik.de/fileadmin/media/download/12_DialogKosmetik.pdf

Kim, H.-Y. & Chung, J.‐E. (2011). Consumer purchase intention for organic personal care products. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 28(1), 40–47. https://doi.org/10.1108/07363761111101930

Liobikienė, G., Grincevičienė, Š. & Bernatonienė, J. (2017). Environmentally friendly behaviour and green purchase in Austria and Lithuania. Journal of Cleaner Production, 142, 3789–3797. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.10.084

POS kompakt (2019). Nachhaltig gepflegt? So sehen die Verbraucherinnen Kosmetik in Deutschland. POS kompakt – Marketing & Kommunikation, 5, 12–13.

Sahota, A. (2013). Sustainability: How the Cosmetics Industry is Greening Up. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118676516

Statista (Hg.). (2020c). Umsatz mit Naturkosmetik in Deutschland in den Jahren 2007 bis 2019. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/201220/umfrage/umsatz-mit-naturkosmetik-in-deutschland/

Todd, A. M. (2004). The Aesthetic Turn in Green Marketing: Environmental Consumer Ethics of Natural Personal Care Products. Ethics & the Environment, 9(2), 86–102. https://doi.org/10.1353/een.2005.0009

Verbraucher Initiative e.V. (Ed.). (2019). Natur- und Biokosmetik. https://verbraucher.com/natur-und-biokosmetik-themenheft.html

Wu, Y.-L. & Chen, Y.-S. (2012). The Analysis of Consumer Purchasing Behavior on Cosmetics. Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, 16(3), 425–429.

Check-in/check-out in public transport: Understanding the users and the acceptance of CICO-BW app

I am sure many of you know this situation: Before using public transportation, you are wondering which ticket you need, how many zones your trip includes or which tariff you must pay (or which ticket is the cheapest alternative). These questions demonstrate that using public transportation in Baden-Württemberg is complicated, which diminishes the attractiveness and, thus, acceptance of public transportation. To support the transition to more sustainable mobility, a change in mobility behaviour is needed. Since facilitating the use of public transport is an important requirement of many people for using it (ADAC e. V., 2017), great attention should be paid to this aspect. Therefore, Baden-Württemberg started a project called CICO-BW. It involves the introduction of app-based e-ticketing with a check-in/check-out system and a daily best price guarantee.

What does this mean?

This means that public transport users can use an app that allows them to check in with a swipe before boarding and check out the same way after getting off. The correct ticket is automatically recognized, the right price is automatically calculated and then charged to the user’s credit card. Users don’t pay more than the price of a one-day ticket. One possible app with this functionality is the FTQ Lab App, which is currently piloted under the name CICO-BW App in the region of Stuttgart. Besides overcoming technical challenges, the success of the app depends on its user acceptance

Source: Fairtiq

What do users want and how do they accept the CICO-BW app?

Examining user acceptance is based on user understanding (Diefenbach & Hassenzahl, 2017). This is achieved through the investigation of user needs, as these are the driving forces behind human behavior (Liebel, 2011). Therefore, we conducted a study in our lab that focused on user needs and their importance for the acceptance of the CICO-BW app. In a multi-method approach, qualitative Interviews (n=11) using a means-end-chain approach (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988) and a quantitative online survey (n=172) should shed light on the general acceptance of CICO-BW app, the relevant user needs and requirements as well as on their fulfilment by the application. By using a well-known acceptance model (UTAUT 2) (Venkatesh, Thong, & Xu, 2011), other relevant factors should be identified as well. Further, possible usage barriers and desired development opportunities were examined.

Key results:

  • The intention to use (4.2/5), the satisfaction (9.1/10) and the willingness to recommend (8.7/10) regarding the CICO-BW app are already quite high, which indicates a high general acceptance. Furthermore, 67% of the respondents think that the CICO-BW app facilitates access to public transport and makes it more attractive.
  • The most important user needs were convenience, security, and hedonism. Convenience was linked to the requirements for a fast, simple, and intuitive ticket purchase, which reduces the effort and stress when using public transport. The need for security should be met by a reliable system, which correctly calculates the price and relieves the user from the concern of getting a wrong ticket. Hedonism should be fulfilled by a gamified app which is fun and entertaining to use and thus increases users’ well-being.
  • Need for convenience is an influencing factor on the intention to use: The greater the fulfilment of the need for convenience, the more people tend to use CICO-BW app. Needs for security and hedonism are influencing factors regarding the satisfaction: The greater the fulfilment of these needs is, the grater the satisfaction with the CICO-BW app. Additionally, people’s interest in the CICO-BW App and their satisfaction also depends on social influence, i.e. whether their social environment wants them to use the app or not (social influence).
  • While the need for security is sufficiently fulfilled by the app and the need for hedonism is met to a very high degree, the need for convenience is currently not fulfilled sufficiently.
  • The greatest usage barriers included forgetting to check out as well as inaccuracies related to location and payment. The frequently desired development opportunities included the integration of more payment options, an existing monthly and annual pass, and saving statistics as well as the option for group rides and the opportunity for a monthly or annual best price.

What do the results imply for practice?

Since convenience is important for user acquisition and shows deficits in terms of fulfilment, this must be the primary focus in practice (e.g., fixing location-related problems). The needs for security and hedonism are important for user retention and their fulfilment should be increased by fixing billing-related problems and using gamification opportunities. Recommendation marketing by users themselves but also by influencers could also be important in terms of increasing user acceptance. Further, implementation of development opportunities such as the integration of an existing monthly/annual pass in the CICO-BW app not only includes occasional users and non-users but also frequent public transport passengers as a target group.

In summary, the identified needs can be used as the basis for developing, evaluating, and promoting the check-in/check-out systems within the CICO project. This ensures a user-centred focus and, consequently, a high level of user acceptance. This is the only way to make public transport in Baden-Württemberg less complicated as well as more attractive. Consequently, it should a positive effect on usage rates.

If you want to understand the results in a practical way and follow the development of the app, you can find more information about the CICO-BW app here.

Source: Fairtiq


ADAC e.V. (2017, 16. Februar). Umfrage: Bereitschaft zum Umstieg auf ÖPNV vorhanden. ADAC. Verfügbar unter: https://presse.adac.de/meldungen/adac-ev/tests/umfrage-bereitschaft-zum-umstieg-auf-oepnv-vorhanden.html

Diefenbach, S., & Hassenzahl, M. (2017). Psychologie in der nutzerzentrierten Produktgestaltung. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Liebel, F. (2011). Motivforschung. In Qualitative Marktforschung in Theorie und Praxis (pp. 473-490). Gabler.

Reynolds, T. J., & Gutman, J. (1988). Laddering theory, method, analysis, and interpretation. Journal of advertising research28(1), 11-31.

Venkatesh, V., Thong, J. Y., & Xu, X. (2012). Consumer acceptance and use of information technology: extending the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology. MIS Quarterly, 157-178.

Do we trust product reviews? Acceptance factors behind electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM)

The modern world of consumption is characterized by the steadily growing e-commerce sector and a large variety of shops, brands and providers. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office (2019), 84% of Germans have already ordered something online and almost a third of users make at least one online purchase per week (Statista, 2019). These numbers have grown since the pandemic, as 36% of Germans indicate that they now purchase more products online (Bitkom, 2020). In order to make the right purchase decision in this unmanageable variety of offers, consumers are increasingly orienting themselves towards recommendations from other customers who have already bought a product and who share their experiences with other users (Lis & Korchmar, 2013). While in the past buyers were mainly influenced by advertising and personal sales advice, studies have shown that today many consumers not only proactively seek digital recommendations, but also prefer them over traditional information sources (Bickart & Schindler, 2001; Heckathorne, 2010; Mourali et al., 2005). This digital communication between consumers is known as electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) and the most relevant form are online product reviews (Lis & Korchmar, 2013).

Consumers see online product reviews as a relevant source of information and orientation, which is tailored to the specific product or service of interest. They are usually regarded as independent and objective. However, due to the high reach, many companies have recognized that product reviews are an inexpensive and at the same time effective instrument in order to increase sales (Lis, 2013). This leads to the issue that some companies have started to manipulate product reviews or even defame competitors with negative reviews. These corporate actions can deceive consumers in their perception and lead them to biased purchase decisions (He et al., 2020). In view of the questionable authenticity and objectivity of some contributions, the perceived credibility of a review plays a decisive role in its impact on consumers.

In his research, Jan Klenk from the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences investigated the determinants and implications of online product reviews based on the classical Hovland-Yale-approach for persuasive messages (Hovland et al., 1953), which considers the sender of the message, the message itself and the recipient of the message as relevant aspects of persuasion. It is of interest to see, how these three aspects interact and determine the credibility of a product review. The central research question was, which determinants (sender, message, recipient) significantly promote the credibility of online product reviews?

In an online survey, 244 consumers were asked to evaluate fictional reviews, which were manipulated regarding the influencing variables described above. Half of the participants stated that they had already written product reviews themselves. Besides, 66% of participants indicated that they use product reviews often or always and 78% stated that they have a positive attitude towards product reviews. The study revealed that product reviews have a great importance for consumption decisions. Credibility of these reviews is largely determined by sender and message-specific characteristics. In addition to the perceived expertise of the sender and the quality of the arguments used in the review, the trustworthiness of the sender is particularly important. It has the highest degree of effectiveness of all factors and should therefore be the focus of possible measures to increase the credibility of online product reviews. In comparison, recipient characteristics were found to be of little relevance in this study.

To sum up, both, the characteristics of the sender as well as of the message, are relevant for credibility and, thus, acceptance of an online product review. Additionally, independence is the basis for sustainable added value from product reviews. Therefore, Klenk suggests that companies should take care to preserve the independence of the reviewers and to present their qualities in a modern and meaningful review system. This is the only way product reviews are accepted by consumers and can create long-term added value for companies, online retailers and consumers.

What are your thoughts on product reviews? Do you rely on them or are you rather skeptical? We are happy to hear your opinion.



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Lis, B. (2013). In eWOM We Trust. Wirtschaftsinformatik, 55(3), 121–134. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11576-013-0360-8

Lis, B. & Korchmar, S. (2013). Digitales Empfehlungsmarketing: Konzeption, Theorien und Determinanten zur Glaubwürdigkeit des Electronic Word-of-Mouth (EWOM). Springer.

Mourali, M., Laroche, M. & Pons, F. (2005). Antecedents of Consumer Relative Preference for Interpersonal Information Sources in Pre-Purchase Search. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 4(5), 307–318. https://doi.org/10.1002/cb.16

Statista. (2019). E-Commerce in Deutschland. Accessed on May 30, 2020, retrieved from https://de.statista.com/statistik/studie/id/6387/dokument/e- commerce-statista-dossier/

Statistisches Bundesamt. (2019). Private Haushalte in der Informationsgesellschaft: Nutzung von Informations- und Kommunikations- technologien. Accessed on May 30, 2020, retrieved from https://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Gesellschaft-Umwelt/Einkommen- Konsum-Lebensbedingungen/IT-Nutzung/Publikationen/Downloads-IT- Nutzung/private-haushalte-ikt-2150400197004.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

Successful Call for Innovation: How WRS and HFT supported six companies from the Stuttgart region to improve their innovative projects

With their „Call for Innovation“, the Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart (WRS) and the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences (HFT) have supported six regional companies in improving innovative projects with acceptance research. Participants included the department store Breuninger, Daimler, Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB), the software company space one, Rho Data GmbH and Pilz GmbH & Co. KG for automation technology.

The projects were wide-ranging in terms of content: From the development of internal or customer-oriented apps to tools for digital collaboration or the question of how artificial intelligence (AI) can optimize the service offering for customers. For example, Daimler AG tested its corporate health management app “My Health” and space one improved it’s “Vispa” collaboration app, which is a virtual workshop room used with the help of avatars. On the other hand, SSB tweaked their „polygo“ app, offering digital access to mobility services in the Stuttgart region and Breuninger submitted the “Instore View” app, showing offers and services of specific stores. Pilz GmbH & Co. KG investigated the worldwide acceptance of chatbots that provide customers with targeted information and Rho Data GmbH created a cloud-based solution that analyzes elements of internal communication such as emails and calendar entries to improve collaboration.

The different companies‘ ideas, products and services were analyzed and optimized by selected students of business psychology at HFT for one semester from fall 2020 to Januaray 2021. The students developed individual approaches and solutions for the individual projects and investigated whether the planned products and services would be accepted by the respective customers.

Click here for further information on the call for innovation. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in working with us or in case you have any questions!

The „Call for Innovation“ is an initiative of WRS and HFT. It took place as part of the M4_LAB project. M4_LAB stands for „Metropolregion 4.0 – Innovation and transfer from transdisciplinary research for energy-efficient urban development, sustainable management and production in the Stuttgart Metropolitan Region „. This transfer project at HFT Stuttgart is funded by the federal-state initiative „Innovative Hochschule „. The „Call for Innovation“ is planned again for fall 2021.

How can we make cycling in big cities safer? Here’s the answer

Riding a bike can be an easy, fun, sustainable and healthy way of transportation. Considering these positive aspects of cycling, cities should focus on becoming more bicycle-friendly. While there are cycle enthusiasts that have used their bike for as long as they can remember and use it to go almost everywhere, 40% of cyclists in Germany do not feel safe when riding a bike (BMVBS & ADFC, 2019).

Looking at these suboptimal conditions for a sustainable future with increased bicycle usage, we decided that we wanted to change something. There must be a solution that makes riding a bike safer and is relatively easy and quick to implement. We wanted to make a sustainable impact on the bicycle infrastructure in cities. We found a way to do so.

Let us introduce you to ROUTEMESAFE.

ROUTEMESAFE is an upcoming smartphone app which aims at making cycling safer. With this crowdsourcing app, places perceived as unsafe by individual cyclists can be marked on an interactive map and therefore made visible to all users, offering an overview of especially unsafe spots in the area. So, before heading out with your bike, you can always check the conditions of your route, and see e.g. if there are any construction sites or other obstacles. By using ROUTEMESAFE, you are better prepared for your bike route. It is also a great way to check the route for your kids. Additionally, you can also add dangerous spots while you ride past them. In order to do so, you simply have to tap the screen and describe the hazard after your journey. Thereby, you can help your fellow bikers to stay safe. By using a thumbs-up voting function we ensure with the help of our users, that only valid and up-to-date danger spots are displayed.

You might think that the smartphone app is enough because it already fulfills your own needs and those of your fellow cyclists. But we wanted to cycle the extra mile and include the local authorities. One key feature of our ideal vision of ROUTEMESAFE is the connection to urban planners in the city administration. The responsible department receives all dangerous spots that are marked by users in the app in order to get real-time feedback on the status of the road conditions for cyclists. Authorities are encouraged to use this information as a basis for decision making regarding the future bicycle infrastructure in your city. If a dangerous spot gets marked over and over again by several cyclists and receives lots of traffic, this can pose a trigger for infrastructural measures, e.g. fixing holes in the street or installing a bike lane.

By combining a crowdsourcing app with the power of local authorities we are confident to see a change in bicycle safety through ROUTEMESAFE – and hopefully an increase in cycling activities in the near future.


Want to come for a ride?

What do you think about bike safety in metropolitan areas in general and our app in particular? Let us know!

ROUTEMESAFE is currently available as a prototype. Want to become a Beta tester? Contact us!

We conducted several studies during the process to ensure that the users’ needs are met. Click here to read our research on cycling safety and feel free to reach out to get more information on our target group and user experience research. In case you have any feedback, feel free to contact us. We’re more than happy to hear it.

For safer cycling in metropolitan areas.



BMVBS; ADFC, 2019, Fahrrad-Monitor Deutschland 2019, Erhebung durch polis+sinus

Veröffentlicht durch BMVBS, https://www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/DE/Anlage/K/fahrradmonitor-2019-ergebnisse.pdf?__blob=publicationFile


How can (electric) Carsharing work in rural areas?

The concept of carsharing is pretty straightforward. Instead of owning a vehicle yourself and being attached to the acquisition costs, insurance, repairs and other running costs, you just pay for a vehicle whenever you need one (c.f. mobility on demand). Depending on the provider, costs are usually calculated as a mix between mileage and time. Carsharing offers you the benefits of using a car without the strings attached to owning a car. According to an analysis by Roland Berger (2014) private cars stay idle for 23 hours every day. Thus, carsharing is an environmentally friendly way to increase the efficiency of car usage.


The number of carsharing users is continuously rising. In Germany, over 96% of big cities with more than 100,000 habitants offer carsharing. However, only 5% of municipalities with less than 20.000 habitants provide a carsharing service (Bundesverband Carsharing, 2020). Carsharing in rural areas is facing bigger challenges than in urban areas. For instance, rural areas have a higher level of car ownership and are less densely populated. Additionally, there is a great availability of parking spaces and the public transport system is not as well-developed, making it hard to get to a carsharing vehicle. However, despite these unfavorable conditions, previous research shows that residents in rural areas are just as open towards a carsharing system as their urban counterparts (Wappelhorst et al., 2014).

 But, how exactly can we make carsharing work in rural areas?

This is a target research question in our Smart2Charge project. The goal is to implement an electric carsharing system in Wüstenrot, a municipality with 6,613 habitants in the southwest of Germany. In 2020, we conducted three preceding steps to get detailed insights into the needs as well as the acceptance of the habitants of Wüstenrot: a survey (n=190), qualitative interviews (n=21) and organized a workshop (n=17). In the survey and interviews, we presented to participants a station-based carsharing system with one station in the center of the municipality and two electric vehicles, using a short written paragraph. During the workshop, participants were able to modify the presented carsharing concept or develop a new one.

Here are our preliminary findings:

  • Overall, 15% of the survey sample indicated high interest in the e-carsharing service. Even though this value seems low at first, it is slightly above the German national average (13%) of people being interested in carsharing (IfD Allensbach, 2019).

  • The qualitative interviews revealed that the majority of respondents would like to test the electric carsharing system once it has been implemented. However, 10 out of 13 find it hard to reach and 7 out of 13 perceive it as not flexible enough.

  • In the workshop, the participants created their own preferred carsharing model for Wüstenrot. The favoured carsharing model is a free-floating model that includes carsharing stations in all districts of the municipality, making the carsharing accessible to more residents. If the vehicles are not left at a designated station, a service provider should make sure the vehicles are distributed correctly. Additionally, participants suggested to include a ridesharing feature in the app, making it possible to lower the environmental impact and foster social connections in the community.

These findings are consistent with previous research. It shows that an electric carsharing in rural areas is desirable. Compared to urban carsharing, it is important that it involves a greater sense of community. Successful carsharing systems in rural areas are found in Schleswig Holstein and Spain for example.

The implementation of the carsharing in Wüstenrot will take place in the first half of 2021. Stay tuned to see how it performs.

Click here to receive more information about the Smart2Charge project and contact us in case you have any questions or comments.



Bundesverband CarSharing (2020). Aktuelle Zahlen und Fakten zum CarSharing in Deutschland. Bundesverband CarSharing e.V. Available online at https://carsharing.de/alles-ueber-carsharing/carsharing-zahlen/aktuelle-zahlen-fakten-zum-carsharing-deutschland

IfD Allensbach. (2019). Anzahl der Personen in Deutschland, die Carsharing nutzen oder sich dafür interessieren, in den Jahren 2015 bis 2019 (in Millionen) [Graph]. In Statista. Zugriff am 16. Juni 2020, von https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/257867/umfrage/carsharing-interesse-und-nutzung-in-deutschland/

Roland Berger (2014, September 1). Shared Mobility – Wie neue Geschäftsmodelle die Spielregeln für den Personenverkehr ändern, Available online at https://www.presseportal.de/pm/32053/2819936

Wappelhorst, S., Sauer, M., Hinkeldein, D., Bocherding, A., Glaß, T. (2014). Potential of Electric Carsharing in Urban and Rural Areas. In Transportation Research Procedia 4, 374–386. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trpro.2014.11.028/

Home, Smart Home – What do customers expect from smart home systems?


The corona virus made a lot of us stay at home more than ever before. A natural reaction to this is trying to make staying at home as nice as possible. An opportunity to make life at home more convenient and efficient are so called smart home systems. Smart home describes a set of technological innovations that aim at improving the living environment of a user by adapting it to his or her individual needs (Abicht et al., 2010). Smart home systems offer various options such as dimming the lights using your phone or automatically shutting the blinds, depending on the time of the day to ensure energy efficiency.

What do user expect from such systems?

In order to answer this question, we must first look at the different types of smart home systems. Overall, there are two general smart home concepts. The first one is a single-brand solution. As the name implies, all necessary technology for smart home is holistically provided by one manufacturer. This ensures full compatibility and data security as well as good customer service. On the other hand, there are standalone open-source solutions. In this case, technology from several different brands can be connected with the control unit via a common operational framework. This offers endless possibilities for the customer to individually assemble the desired smart home solution. However, the user is responsible for checking the compatibility of all devices and has to make sure they really work together.

While 40% of Germans are currently using smart home devices, only 18% of them are true users with connected solutions. 82% of users own single or multiple devices but did not incorporate them into a coherent system. Besides, 28% are interested in smart home solutions but do not own any and 26% reject smart home solutions in general. This implies that there may be a lack of acceptance (Splendid Research, 2021). In 2019, Gabriela Salomon and Prof. Dr. Patrick Müller from the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences investigated the acceptance factors of smart home technology based on the widely used framework (UTAUT model, Venkatesh et al., 2003). In their online survey, users (n=496) were either asked about their insights regarding the single brand solution or the standalone open-source solution. Therefore, it is not only possible to find out what best predicts acceptance of a smart home system but also compare the two system types.

The following four success factors for smart home technology acceptance were identified:

  • Performance Expectancy is the most important success factor for smart home technology acceptance: The more people expect to save time, money and to increase security, the more they tend to use smart home technology.

  • The second relevant factor is Effort Expectancy: If smart home systems are expected to be effortless, inexpensive and easy to get, people are more likely to use it.

  • Additionally, people’s interest in the technology also depends on what they think their social environment likes the technology or not (Social Influence) and how well suited their living situation (e.g. rented flat, new house) is for the technology (Facilitating Conditions).

  • Overall, no differences in these success factors between the two smart home systems were found. However, users expected a higher performance of the single brand solution but at the same time had the feeling that standalone open-source solutions are more suited to their living situation.

What can companies learn from these results?

This research implies that the cost and time saving benefits should be communicated clearly to consumers. Additionally, there needs to be a focus on simplicity of the installation of smart home in order to decrease the expectation that such systems are difficult to install and maintain. To achieve a positive social influence, manufacturers can promote successful group interactions and communication through and with the system. Last but not least, users need information about compatibility with other technologies and the suitability for different living environments.

By focusing on the clear communication of benefits and necessary requirements, a positive image for smart home solutions can be created.

Is there a winner?

The study by Salomon and Müller (2019) showed that users do not necessarily think that one system is better than the other. They expect more performance of the single-brand solution but at the same time expect that standalone open-source solutions to be more suited to their living situation. So, it looks like we will see very different approaches to smart home solutions for the time coming. It is going to be interesting to see which features companies develop in order to tie customers to their systems and how these systems evolve.

What are your thoughts on smart home? Do you already have something in place? Or are you thinking about getting it installed? What information and solutions should companies provide? We’d be happy to hear your opinion.

You can access the full article here.



Abicht, L., Brand, L., Freigang, S., Freikamp, H., & Hoffknecht, A. (2010). Internet der Dinge im Bereich Smart House. Retrieved from http://www.frequenz.net/uploads/tx_freqpro- jerg/Abschlussbericht_Id__im_Smart_House_final.pdf.

Salomon, G., & Müller, P. (2019). Success Factors for the Acceptance of Smart Home Technology Concepts. In A. Lochmahr, P. Müller, P. Planing, & T. Popovic (Eds.), Digitalen Wandel gestalten – Transdisziplinäre Ansätze aus Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft (pp. 205-215). Springer Gabler.

Splendid Research (2021). Smart Home Monitor 2021. Retrieved from https://www.splendid-research.com/de/smarthome.html

Venkatesh, V., Morris, M. G., Davis, G. B., & Davis, F. D. (2003). User acceptance of information technology: Toward a unified view. MIS quarterly, 27, 425–478.