Recommended Reading / Theory

Outpacing Others

Hamilton article

Outpacing Others: When Consumers Value Products Based on Relative Usage Frequency
Rebecca W. Hamilton, Rebecca K. Ratner, and Debora V. Thompson

Journal of Consumer Researcch
Vol. 37, No. 6 (April 2011), pp. 1079-1094
Published by: The University of Chicago Press

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When considering the purchase of a new product, will consumers be more likely to make the purchase if they think about using it every day or if they think about using it every week? From an economic perspective, using a durable product more frequently should increase its perceived value. However, perceived usage frequency relative to other consumers can influence product interest more than absolute usage frequency. The authors use scale labels, advertisements, and customer reviews to invoke either a high-frequency or low-frequency norm. High-frequency cues create less product interest and lower willingness to pay than low-frequency cues because consumers infer that their relative usage frequency will be lower, reducing the product’s perceived fit. This effect is moderated by the consumer’s perceived similarity to the standard of comparison and the consumer’s own characteristics.

See also: Learning How Consumers Value Products


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