Context is everything: New research uncovers key to consumer preferences

Jul 17, 2008

When consumers shop for televisions or cereal, what makes them prefer one option to another? Which brand will they purchase again and tell their friends about?

New research in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that a product's attractiveness can shift depending on the other choices that are available at the time. Authors Song-Oh Yoon (Korea University Business School) and Itamar Simonson (Stanford University) demonstrate that if consumers perceive they're choosing the best item from a set of options, they are more likely to feel good enough about choosing the product again next time.

"These findings show that the choice process and the configuration of the choice set have long-term effects on the strength, stability, and attribution of the resulting preferences and can even influence product satisfaction," write the authors.

The research found that the configuration of the choice set mattered greatly when it came to creating consumer preference. In the studies, participants were presented with products (food processors, lawn mowers, portable grills, binoculars, cars, cordless phones, etc.). The products were presented in three types of choice sets: asymmetric dominance (where one choice was clearly superior to the other two), compromise (where one choice was intermediate to the other two), or control (two options that were somewhat equivalent).

After participants made choices, they rated the products and their satisfaction with their choices. In five different studies that shifted the products and choice sets, the researchers found that the strength of preference for one option over another can be affected by the context of the choice in ways people don't realize.

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A spray-on light show on four wheels: Darkside Scientific

Sep 14, 2014

Darkside Scientific recently drew a lot of gazes its way in its video release of a car treated to the company's electroluminescent paint called LumiLor. Electroluminescence (EL) is a characteristic of a material ...

Texas producers find new oil fields—olive groves

Sep 09, 2014

Texas has been known for its oil production for almost 150 years. Now, a new oil industry is sprouting in what may bring producers cash and consumers a local, edible choice—olive oil.

Apple seeks old magic with new products

Sep 06, 2014

With its highly awaited product launch next week, Apple is aiming for a new "big thing" as the iconic gadget-maker finds itself under pressure over a celebrity photo theft scandal.

Recommended for you

History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

Sep 16, 2014

As Texas mulls new history textbooks for its 5-plus million public school students, some academics are decrying lessons they say exaggerate the influence of Christian values on America's Founding Fathers.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

Sep 16, 2014

Federal prosecutors say radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have settled civil claims that they misused money from a nearly $1 million federal ...

User comments : 0