Is the iPad Creative? It depends on who's buying it

Mar 05, 2013

Encouraging consumers to feel ownership of products they haven't yet purchased can backfire because consumers tend to see themselves in the products they own, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Companies assume that consumers who are made to feel ownership of a product prior to purchase will prefer it over competing products, but this can actually have the opposite effect and lead consumers to judge the product less favorably," write authors Liad Weiss and Gita V. Johar (both Columbia University).

Companies encourage us to feel a sense of ownership of their products even before we buy them. For example, Nike allows consumers to customize sneakers online before buying them, while Apple promotes a feeling of iPad ownership through ads that give consumers a "driver's seat" perspective of an iPad owner.

Consumers, however, tend to project their personal traits onto the products they own. For instance, when a consumer who is not very creative owns (or feels she owns) an , she may associate her own lack of with the computer.

The authors identified a flip side to this. In a series of studies, consumers perceived products they did not own as different from themselves because they projected their "anti-self" onto them. This was especially true when consumers were made aware of not owning a product (while shopping for it). When consumers who felt they were uncreative were made aware of not owning an Apple computer, they perceived the computer as more creative.

"Products we are attracted to prior to ownership may become less appealing once we feel that they are ours. Companies seeking to induce to feel ownership of products prior to purchase should verify that have positive self-regard on relevant before they induce them to feel product ownership. By doing so, they can reduce the likelihood that this will backfire," the authors conclude.

Explore further: Decoding ethnic labels

More information: Liad Weiss and Gita V. Johar. "Egocentric Categorization and Product Judgment: Seeing Your Traits in What You Own (and Their Opposite in What You Don't)." Journal of Consumer Research: June 2013.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ownership increases the value of products

Aug 15, 2012

The price a consumer will pay for a product is often significantly less than the price they will accept to sell it. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, this occurs because ownership of a product enhanc ...

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 ...

Value or attention: Why do consumers prefer familiar products?

Dec 11, 2012

Consumers are more likely to purchase a product if they have previously focused their attention on it but are less likely to purchase a product they have previously ignored, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Re ...

Recommended for you

Congressional rift over environment influences public

1 hour ago

American citizens are increasingly divided over the issue of environmental protection and seem to be taking their cue primarily from Congress, finds new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

Decoding ethnic labels

Jul 30, 2014

If you are of Latin American descent, do you call yourself Chicano? Latino? Hispanic?

Local education politics 'far from dead'

Jul 29, 2014

Teach for America, known for recruiting teachers, is also setting its sights on capturing school board seats across the nation. Surprisingly, however, political candidates from the program aren't just pushing ...

First grade reading suffers in segregated schools

Jul 29, 2014

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the ...

Why aren't consumers buying remanufactured products?

Jul 29, 2014

Firms looking to increase market share of remanufactured consumer products will have to overcome a big barrier to do so, according to a recent study from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Findings from faculty members ...

Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall

Jul 29, 2014

People learn better and recall more when given the impression that they will soon have to teach newly acquired material to someone else, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

User comments : 0