Consumers think differently about close and distant purchases

Sep 15, 2008

If you are deciding on a major vacation for next year, you'll use different criteria than if you are planning a trip this weekend, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Authors Kyeongheui Kim (Sungkyunkwan University, Korea), Meng Zhang (Chinese University of Hong Kong), and Xiuping Li (National University of Singapore) examined the way consumers make choices and found that many decisions depend on the interconnected factors of distance—both temporal distance (time) and "social distance," the perceived closeness of the person for whom the purchase is being made.

The researchers found that consumers used "low-level construal" to make those decisions which are close in time or for people close to them. Those decisions relied on more concrete factors like convenience. However, decisions made for a future purchase, or for someone not socially close, put people in a "high-level construal" mode, which considers more abstract factors such as attractiveness.

Researchers found these factors were inter-related in that if the decision was both imminent and for someone close, it would likely focus on convenience and the lower-construal attributes. If the decision were for a purchase farther into the future or for someone not socially close to the consumer, there would be more focus on the higher levels of attractiveness and more abstract values. They recommend that marketers should take distance into consideration when crafting different approaches.

Researchers also found that the person who writes the online reviews was important. The reviews were more persuasive when written by people with names similar to the study participants' own. The authors noted: "Perceived social distance to another consumer who writes a product review may significantly influence a consumer's preference….it may be advisable for marketers to consider the effects of psychological distance dimensions beyond the effects of word-of-mouth narratives."

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Huntington acquires Louis Pasteur's notes on brewing beer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Technology improves avalanche gear for backcountry skiers

Jan 25, 2015

As outdoor recreation companies increasingly cater to skiers and snowboarders who like to venture beyond the groomed slopes at ski resorts and tackle backcountry terrain, they've put a special emphasis on gear and equipment ...

NASA spacecraft almost to Pluto: Smile for the camera!

Jan 23, 2015

It's showtime for Pluto. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has traveled 3 billion miles and is nearing the end of its nine-year journey to Pluto. Sunday, it begins photographing the mysterious, unexplored, icy ...

Remote piloted aircraft maps storm surge impacts

Dec 05, 2014

One year on from the biggest UK storm surge for 60 years, new aerial photos have revealed details of breaches to the natural and man-made coastal defences on part of the East Anglian coastline.

Recommended for you

Toward a scientific process freed from systemic bias

Jan 26, 2015

Research on how science works - the science of science - can benefit from studying the digital traces generated during the research process, such as peer-reviewed publications. This type of research is crucial for the future ...

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.