Special Session Summary Moderators of Consumer Response to Promotions

Stephen M. Nowlis, Washington State University
[ to cite ]:
Stephen M. Nowlis (1996) ,"Special Session Summary Moderators of Consumer Response to Promotions", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, eds. Kim P. Corfman and John G. Lynch Jr., Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 154.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, 1996      Page 154



Stephen M. Nowlis, Washington State University

Sales promotions have become a ubiquitous element of the consumer's purchase environment. Much of the research on price promotions has relied on scanner data or panel data to measure the effect of price promotions on sales and market share (e.g., Blattberg and Neslin 1990). However, we know less about the underlying process by which consumers are affected by price promotions and the factors which moderate a consumer's response. This session tried to address this issue by examining how the decision process involving promoted products is tempered by various factors. For instance, two of the papers in the session suggested that the decision context, or set of alternatives under consideration, might moderate the consumer's response to promoted products, while the third paper attempted to show how certain situational variables and consumer-specific characteristics moderate the effect of promotions. We believe that this approach led to a richer understanding of the consumer's response to promotions, as it attempted to show how aspects of the decision environment would influence the preference for promoted products.

The first paper, by Jennifer Gregan-Paxton and Linda G. Schneider Stone, considered how the promotion intensity by a given option may affect the preference for both the promoted option and for the options in the set which do not promote. They reported findings from a computer-based experiment which indicated that, under certain circumstances, preferences actually increased for the brand that did not promote when its competition did promote. In this sense, they suggested that the actions of the promoted brand, or context, may have a systematic effect on the preferences for the nonpromoted brands in the set.

The second paper, by Stephen M. Nowlis and Itamar Simonson, examined the role of the choice set composition in moderating the effect of price promotions. For instance, an important finding is that high-tier (high quality, high price) brands tend to gain more share from price promotions than do low-tier brands (e.g., Blattberg and Wisniewski 1989). However, a question that naturally arises is: How general is this asymmetric effect, and what factors moderate its magnitude? In their paper, the authors examined how the choice context moderates the impact of price promotions, focusing on the above finding, by affecting how consumers switch between brands in the set. The results of four experiments were reported that supported the hypotheses.

The third paper examined the process by which point-of-purchase (P-O-P) advertising and promotions affect consumer choice behavior. J. Jeffrey Inman and Russell S. Winer developed and tested a theoretical model of P-O-P advertising effects. The model consisted of three conditional stages incorporating factors influencing exposure to P-O-P advertising, choice of the advertised product category, and choice of the advertised brand. Their model was tested in a large-scale field intercept study of 2000 consumers and provided the basis for better understanding the underlying process of P-O-P advertising's effect on choice behavior and assessed the relative impact of situational variables and consumer-specific characteristics on choice.

The discussion leader, Barbara Kahn, engaged the audience in a general discussion of the issues raised in this session.


Blattberg, Robert C. and Scott A. Neslin (1990), Sales Promotion: Concepts, Methods, and Strategies, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Blattberg, Robert C. and Kenneth J. Wisniewski (1989), "Price-Induced Patterns of Competition," Marketing Science, 8 (Fall), 291-309.