From Inherent Value to Incentive Value: When and Why Pointless Effort Enhances Consumer Preference
Sara Kim and Aparna A. Labroo
Journal of Consumer Research
Volume 38, Number 4, December 2011
Published by Chicago Journals
The University of Chicago Press
Companies typically use clear fonts and bright pictures in their ads, Web sites, and product-package designs; place their products on easy-to-reach shelves; and emphasize ease-of-usage to make their products appear desirable to consumers. However, customers focused on “incentive” value (getting the best product) may instead see products associated with noninstrumental (pointless) effort as more desirable. Because effort is usually required to get the best outcomes, consumers looking for the best outcomes also mistakenly presume effort must imply the best possible outcome. Highlighting incentive value (for instance, by message framing or by measuring chronic focus or by manipulating situational focus on incentive value) enhances preference toward outcomes associated with noninstrumental effort. The authors discuss the importance of the findings for understanding everyday consumption decisions and argue for a widespread tendency among individuals wanting the best to infer value from noninstrumental effort.