Today consumers are frequently asked to choose options for the products they purchase, and a growing number of manufacturing systems allow buyers to select product option combinations tailored to their specific needs. Yet to date, research in marketing has offered little managerial insight into this important aspect of consumer decision making.
In this study, authors Park, Jun, and MacInnis investigate what happens in choice decisions when consumers are asked to add product options to a base model (additive framing) versus delete options from a fully loaded model (subtractive framing). In three experiments, the researchers examined how, when, and why option framing affects choice outcomes. Among their findings:
Taken together, these findings suggest that when consumers are committed to buying within a product category, subtractive framing of the product option selection task may be optimal from a managerial point of view. However, some practices could also raise public policy issues—if, for example, a marketer intentionally loaded a brand with options to realize a higher purchase price, irrespective of the actual value delivered by such options.
C. Whan Park is the Joseph A. DeBell Distinguished Professor, Marketing, University of Southern California, Sung Youl Jun is Assistant Professor, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Korea, and Deborah J. MacInnis is Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Southern California.Featured in Insights from MSI.
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