Recent Research Papers
Managing Consumer Uncertainty in the Adoption of New Products: Temporal Distance and Mental Simulation
Consumers are frequently confronted with new products. Although they may be excited by the performance potential of new products, consumers stay with the traditional options when the time to make a purchase decision arrives. In this article, in Study 1, the authors delineate how temporal distance to adoption (time to adopt) influences consumers’ concerns regarding the different types of uncertainties that surround new products. The authors hypothesize and find evidence that over time, consumers’ concerns shift from a consideration of benefit-related uncertainties (performance and symbolic uncertainties) to cost-related and buying process related uncertainties (switching costs). [The two important issues related to buying are clearly brought out. Benefits from the product or service and cost and inconvenience in buying. Many times, when a product is being presented, the audience asks what is the price? The marketers normally would say, we will tell at the end. The marketer things the customer has to listen the explanation on benefits first and then only know the cost. But the customer thinks the other way. He has an amount allocated for the likely benefits of the product and only when the price is below his allocated amount, he is willing to listen to the product characteristics.]
In the second step of the study, the authors draw on theories of mental simulation to reduce the two types of uncertainties (performance and cost) associated with adopting new products. The authors distinguish between outcome and process simulation. They show that communication strategies that promote adoption in the distant future guide consumers to engage in outcome simulation to reduce performance uncertainty, bolster positive feelings, and enhance behavioral intentions. In contrast, communication strategies that promote adoption in the near future encourage process simulation to reduce switching-cost and affective-cost uncertainties, alleviate anxiety, and increase behavioral intentions. Thus, changing communication strategies with reference to temporal distance increases actual adoption rates and, importantly, postconsumption satisfaction.
The findings have managerial and public policy implications. Carefully tailored communication strategies are necessary for new product success. They are also applicable to public goods and hence can also have a beneficial impact on consumer welfare and well-being.
Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. XLV, No. 3, June 2008