Are you promotion- or prevention-focused and what does this mean when considering choices?

Jun 21, 2010

When consumers make choices, their style of pursuing their goals changes the way they search and decide what to purchase, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

A large number of consumer alternatives are arranged hierarchically, the authors explain. For example, a is typically organized by courses (appetizers, entrees) and by types of dishes within courses (soups, salads). "This research examines how consumers' style of goal pursuit influences the way they search for information and form their consideration sets in such decision environments," write authors Michel Tuan Pham (Columbia University) and Hannah H. Chang (Singapore Management University).

When consumers have a promotion focus, a style of goal pursuit that is often used in the pursuit of dreams and aspirations, they tend to search for information in a more global, big-picture manner, devoting more time and effort to higher levels of information hierarchies (soups, appetizers, and other categories). "In contrast, when consumers have a
prevention focus, a style of goal pursuit that is avoidance-oriented and often used in the fulfillment of duties and obligations, they tend to search for information in a more local,
detail-oriented manner, such as specific descriptions of individual dishes," the authors write.

Promotion-focused consumers tend to consider larger numbers of alternatives before making their final choices than do prevention-focused consumers. In one study, for example, participants who were put into a promotion or prevention focus were asked to make dinner selections from a restaurant's prix-fixe menu. Promotion-focused participants searched the menu in a more global manner, devoting a greater share of their efforts to higher levels of the menu hierarchy, whereas prevention-focused participants searched the menu in a more local manner, devoting a greater share of their efforts to lower levels of the menu hierarchy.

In a subsequent study, the authors found that participants were willing to pay about 17 percent more when the restaurant menu was structured in a way that "fit" their search inclinations. "Prevention-focused participants were willing to pay significantly more when the menu was presented in a listing format, which presumably fits a 'detailoriented' search better," the authors explain.

Explore further: Election surprises tend to erode trust in government

More information: Michel Tuan Pham and Hannah H. Chang. "Regulatory Focus, Regulatory Fit, and the Search and Consideration of Choice Alternatives." Journal of Consumer Research: February 2011.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Categories help us make happier choices

Jul 17, 2008

Most of us have stood in a supermarket aisle, overwhelmed with the array of choices. Making those choices is easier if the options are categorized, according to new research in the Journal of Consumer Research.

More 'McBang' for your 'McBuck'

Jul 14, 2009

McDonald's seems recession-proof, its profitability apparently untouched by the newest economic crisis to hit America. Though the average family may not be able to eat out in style, they can afford a Dollar Menu double cheeseburger ...

Recommended for you

Election surprises tend to erode trust in government

1 hour ago

When asked who is going to win an election, people tend to predict their own candidate will come out on top. When that doesn't happen, according to a new study from the University of Georgia, these "surprised losers" often ...

Awarded a Pell Grant? Better double-check

21 hours ago

(AP)—Potentially tens of thousands of students awarded a Pell Grant or other need-based federal aid for the coming school year could find it taken away because of a mistake in filling out the form.

Perthites wanted for study on the Aussie lingo

Jul 23, 2014

We all know that Australians speak English differently from the way it's spoken in the UK or the US, and many of us are aware that Perth people have a slightly different version of the language from, say, Melbournians - but ...

User comments : 0