Targeting confident consumers? Focus on high-level product features

Aug 15, 2012

Confident consumers pay more attention to advertisements and product information that focus on high-level features of a product, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Less confident consumers, however, focus on the basics.

"When we feel confident, we think that abstract information is more relevant to us. But when we feel doubtful, we think that concrete information is more relevant. The more relevant we perceive information to be, the more we will on it," write authors Echo Wen Wan (University of Hong Kong) and Derek D. Rucker (Kellogg School of Management – Northwestern University).

The authors conducted a series of experiments to examine how psychological confidence affects consumers' and scrutiny of product information.

In one experiment, the authors induced participants to feel either confident or doubtful and then asked them to describe the action of "locking the door." Confident people tended to describe it in terms of its high-level meaning of "securing the house," whereas doubtful people tended to describe it in terms of its concrete action of "putting a key in the lock."

In another experiment, confident consumers paid more attention to an ad for a health club when the message was focused on the idea of long-term health, a high-level and abstract benefit. They paid less attention to the ad when the message was focused on the idea that they could enjoy daily workouts, a low-level and concrete benefit. When consumers felt doubtful, the opposite occurred and they paid more attention to an ad when it discussed concrete as opposed to abstract benefits.

"Feeling highly confident prompts consumers to consider things from a global perspective and focus on the high-level and essential aspects of products, whereas feeling less confident or uncertain makes people focus on low-level and contextual details," the authors conclude.

Explore further: Notre Dame paper examines how students understand mathematics

More information: Echo Wen Wan and Derek D. Rucker. "Confidence and Construal Framing: When Confidence Increases Versus Decreases Information Processing." Journal of Consumer Research: February 2013.

Related Stories

Consumer confidence: When our choices makes the most sense

May 18, 2010

Why do we feel confident about some choices while we question others? According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, it's a combination of how easy the choice seems and whether we're thinking concretely or abs ...

How do creative ads shake up the way we think?

May 09, 2011

Innovative ads can help creative consumers break away from their existing thought patterns, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. These creative stimuli can affect the way consumers process inform ...

Early product launches: How will consumers respond?

Apr 19, 2011

A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research explains why consumers often indicate they are willing to pay more for a product that is not yet available—but are reluctant to pay that price when the product is ultima ...

Recommended for you

How well does technology solve social problems?

1 hour ago

University of Michigan professor Kentaro Toyama was in India leading a team studying how to make computers work better in the classroom when he noticed that students far outnumbered computers at the underfunded ...

UN: Fewer hungry people in the world despite wars, poverty

20 hours ago

The number of hungry people around the world has dropped to 795 million from over a billion a quarter-century ago despite natural disasters, ongoing conflicts and poverty, the three U.N. food agencies said Wednesday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.