Consumers more likely to choose rejected options later: Study

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - Purchasing decisions are always made by either choosing between alternatives or by rejecting certain options.

However, a new study has found that consumers are more likely to focus on choosing a rejected option later.

Juliano Laran of the University of Miami and Keith Wilcox of Babson College elaborates their point with an example.

“If a consumer prefers a business phone, a choice task would lead her to purchase a Blackberry. In this research we demonstrate that rejecting alternatives makes consumers more likely to select preference-inconsistent options. Thus, if a consumer prefers a business phone, a rejection task would lead her to purchase an iPhone,” they said.

Why does this happen? When consumers reject alternatives, they need to decide which alternative they do not want, so they focus on options that are less preferred in order to assess if they should reject those options. his shift of focus makes them more likely to notice appealing features.

“Such situations are very common in marketing. Consumers may want a nice apartment but still want to save money; they may want a fast car but still care about safety; they may want healthy food, but still desire tasty food,” wrote the authors.

So, even though a consumer may prefer a business phone, she is more likely to purchase an iPhone when she ‘rejects’ it because the process of rejecting increases her focus on the appealing non-business features of the iPhone.

In one study, participants who said they would prefer an apartment closer to nightlife to a less-expensive one further from nightlife were told to select an apartment to ‘reject’.

“Simply instructing them to decide which one they would like to ‘reject’ makes them more likely to choose the less-expensive apartment,” the authors wrote.

And when they were primed to prefer the less-expensive apartment, participants selected the apartment closer to nightlife.

“Regardless of whether participants prefer the apartment closer to nightlife or the less-expensive apartment when they choose, having them reject reverses preference,” the authors wrote.

The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

Filed under: Business

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