How categories and environment create satisfied and well-informed consumers

Dec 14, 2009

Expert consumers like to be surprised by unusual product formats, while novices crave familiarity, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"How can retailers help consumers become more informed about the they use while also making them happy?" write authors Cait Poynor (University of Pittsburgh) and Stacy Wood (University of South Carolina). The answer seems to be organizing products tailored to customers' knowledge levels. "This work shows that simply organizing a store's existing stock in different ways can improve consumers' product learning and satisfaction," the authors write.

What works for one consumer may not work for another, however. The authors found that highly knowledgeable consumers liked being surprised by the product formats they saw. On the other hand, novice consumers had an easier time when they were familiar with product groupings.

"Results may explain why expert cooks love the chaos of farmer's markets, whereas novice cooks find them overwhelming," the authors explain. "Or, for retail food stores, a gourmet grocery that caters to a more knowledgeable 'foodie' may build a happier, better-informed consumer base by presenting items in more novel and exotic formats (by season, optimal wine pairings, or country of origin, for example), whereas retailers at the edge of a college campus may help their novice college-age shoppers most by grouping items in the most traditional formats (all fruits together, all coffee together, all bread together, etc.).

The study found that highly knowledgeable were "notoriously complacent" when it came to paying attention to product information. "When we see something we think we know (that is, we consider ourselves experts in a domain), we tend to breeze past any potentially new and important information," the authors write. In contrast, in areas where we're novices, all of our cognitive capacity is occupied with making a purchase decision.

"This research shows that the route to creating the most satisfied and well-informed consumer can only be determined by considering consumer familiarity with product categories and their expectations about the retail environment," the authors conclude.

More information: Cait Poynor and Stacy Wood. "Smart Subcategories: How Assortment Formats Influence Consumer Learning and Satisfaction." : June 2010.

Source: University of Chicago (news : web)

Explore further: Revealing political partisanship a bad idea on resumes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What do you know? Not as much as you think

Oct 14, 2008

We've all met know-it-alls—people who think they know more than they actually do. If they're talking about products, like wine or motorcycles, they might actually know as much as they think. But when it comes to health ...

Recommended for you

Study identifies why re-educating torturers may not work

4 hours ago

Many human rights educators assume – incorrectly, as it turns out – that police and military officers in India who support the torture of suspects do so because they are either immoral or ignorant. This ...

Research helps raise awareness of human trafficking

4 hours ago

Human trafficking –– or the control, ownership and sale of another human being for monetary gain –– was a common occurrence centuries ago, but many believe it doesn't exist in this day and age and not in this country.

Researchers explore future of 'postdigital' textbook

5 hours ago

An interdisciplinary team at Arizona State University has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation's Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies program to conduct research on the future ...

Revealing political partisanship a bad idea on resumes

23 hours ago

Displaced political aides looking for a new, nonpartisan job in the wake of the midterm power shuffle may fare better if they tone down any political references on their resumes, finds a new study from Duke University.

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.