Now or later? Consumer product evaluation depends on purchase timing

May 12, 2009

Let's say you planned to buy a new car at the end of the year. But then your car conks out and suddenly you need to make a purchase. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says you'll use different criteria to evaluate vehicles in that situation than you would if you planned to buy a car immediately but then had to postpone the purchase.

Authors Yeung-Jo Kim and Jongwon Park (both Korea University Business School) and Robert S. Wyer, Jr. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
examined the way consumers evaluate immediate purchases versus purchases for future use.

The authors explain that when people consider products for future use, "desirability" is a primary consideration. When people consider a product for immediate use, "feasibility" considerations become a priority. "For example, consumers who contemplate purchasing a new word processor for future use give great weight to quality-related features only, whereas those who consider purchasing it immediately attach importance to the feasibility of learning how to use it as well," the authors explain.

So what happens when people have a chance to reevaluate a product they have considered earlier? In one example, participants read information about an apartment to evaluate it for occupancy the next day or six months later. One was considered a "desirability-positive" apartment (large living space, high moving expense) and another was considered "feasibility positive" (limited living space, low moving expense).

"After making their initial judgments, participants returned to the experiment 48 hours later and reevaluated the apartment for either the same point in time or a different time. As expected, participants who reconsidered the apartment for future occupancy reevaluated the desirability-positive apartment more favorably than the feasibility-positive apartment, regardless of when they had considered occupying it initially," the authors write.

More information: Yeung-Jo Kim, Jongwon Park, and Robert S. Wyer, Jr. "Effects of Temporal Distance and Memory on Consumer Judgments." : December 2009 (published online April 21, 2009).

Source: University of Chicago (news : web)

Explore further: How large-scale technology projects affect knowledge

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Remember that time? New study demystifies consumer memory

Jan 26, 2009

If a vacation starts out bad and gets better, you'll have a more positive memory than if it starts out good and gets worse—if you're asked about it right afterward, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Re ...

Trust your gut: Too much thinking leads to bad choices

Jan 26, 2009

Don't think too much before purchasing that new car or television. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, people who deliberate about decisions make less accurate judgments than people who trust their ...

Recommended for you

How large-scale technology projects affect knowledge

54 minutes ago

What do an accelerator complex at Cern, a manufacturing center in 19th century Philadelphia and lotus cultivation during the Qing dynasty all have in common? All such activities generate knowledge and know-how. ...

Current state of the American family

1 hour ago

Most young Americans plan to get married someday, but more than 40 percent of births now occur outside marriage, and the American family itself has become far more diverse and varied.

User comments : 0