Session Summary the Proof of the Pudding Is in the Eating: the Role of Product Experience in Consumer Decision Making

Goutam Chakraborty, Oklahoma State University
Alice Wright, California State University
[ to cite ]:
Goutam Chakraborty and Alice Wright (1994) ,"Session Summary the Proof of the Pudding Is in the Eating: the Role of Product Experience in Consumer Decision Making", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, eds. Chris T. Allen and Deborah Roedder John, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 23.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, 1994      Page 23

SESSION SUMMARY

THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING IS IN THE EATING: THE ROLE OF PRODUCT EXPERIENCE IN CONSUMER DECISION MAKING

Goutam Chakraborty, Oklahoma State University

Alice Wright, California State University

Advertising and product experience are two important ways consumers obtain information about product benefits. Although there is a vast body of research on the role of advertising in consumer decision making, in recent years, interest in research about the role of product experience has intensified. These researchers have investigated the role of product experience from diverse perspectives. This special session brought together researchers studying how product experience influences consumer decision making.

The first paper by Wright and Lutz investigated the role of product experience (trial) in the context of a new product introduction. The authors focused on how the medium of information (Ad, Trial, Ad+Trial and Trial+Ad) "framed" consumers' choice criteria by systematically altering attention and the types of attributes that consumers deemed important during the choice process. Using a candy bar, the authors found that proportionally more search attribute (e.g., price) cognitive responses were mentioned for Ad exposure than Trial, while proportionally more experience attribute (e.g., taste) cognitive responses were mentioned for Trial than Ad. Similar results were found when subjects in a second experiment were asked to list important attributes of a stationary bike. In addition, in the experiment using the candy bar, Ad+Trial led to more important search attributes being elicited, while Trial+Ad led to the elicitation of more important experience attributes.

The second paper by Chakraborty looked at how consumers' evaluations of product attributes are jointly influenced by different types of product experience and direct or indirect claims (through inference) in an ad. The author argued that different types of product experience (shopping or consumption) provide either direct or indirect information about product attributes such as fat-content or flavor. The author reported data from an experiment using real product experience with two brands of electronic typewriters and TV ads. Results indicated that the ad was effective in changing consumers' evaluation of the advertised brand about an attribute when either a direct or indirect claim was made concerning the attribute in the ad and when product experience provided only indirect information concerning that attribute. Results also indicated that, in general, the ad was more effective in the "ad-before" than the "ad-after" experience sequence. However, when a direct claim was made concerning an attribute in the ad and experience provided only indirect information about that attribute, the ad was equally effective in the "ad-before" and "ad-after" experience sequence.

In the first two papers, the focus was on combining information from multiple sources (product experience and ad); the third paper by Gaeth, Levin, Sood, Juang and Castellucci dealt with combining information from multiple product experiences. The authors focused on situations involving mixed product experiences characterized by a product failure followed by a success experience. They reported results from two studies - one using written scenario descriptions of product and service experience and the other using "hands-on" experience with a personal word processor. Results indicated a "rebound effect;" that is, consumers recovered from the failure experience completely after they had the success experience with the same product. This recovery was complete for the more "cognitive" measures such as product quality but not for "emotionally" related feelings such as frustration with the product.

The session discussant, John Deighton, highlighted the commonalties in the three papers and provided insightful comments with respect to each paper. He then presented his thoughts about future research based on an integrative framework having two dimensions - the "salience" and "relevance" of product experience with respect to the claims in an ad.

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