Customization Decisions: the Roles of Assortment and Consideration

John Godek, University of Michigan
J. Frank Yates, University of Michigan
Seigyoung Auh, Symmetrics Marketing Corporation
ABSTRACT - Customization has become increasingly popular as a strategy to attract and retain customers. Even so, little definitive research has examined the effect of customization on consumers and their decision making. Marketers have assumed that customization is virtually guaranteed to improve upon non-customization under all conditions. There are reasons to suspect, however, that there might be specifiable conditions under which customization actually does worse than non-customization. Both managerial practice and previous research suggest that the increased decisional control afforded by customization should benefit consumers by giving them a product that better matches their preferences while simultaneously making them feel more in control of the purchase decision. However, because customized products are often compared and selected on an attribute by attribute basis rather than on an whole product basis, in addition to the effects of matching preferences and increasing control on consumers’ evaluations, consumers may also experience effects associated with perceptions of less assortment as well as consider fewer alternatives prior to making a selection. The current research compares the effects of customization and non-customization decisions on consumer’ judgment and decision making. Controlling for availability of alternatives, we hypothesized that customization decisions will lead to perceptions of less assortment as well as fewer alternatives considered, and that these effects in turn would offset some or all of the benefits derived from matching preferences and increasing decisional control. Two studies testing these predictions were conducted, with results indicating, contrary to managerial practice, that customization performs poorly when compared to a non-customization strategy.
[ to cite ]:
John Godek, J. Frank Yates, and Seigyoung Auh (2001) ,"Customization Decisions: the Roles of Assortment and Consideration", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 396.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, 2001     Page 396

CUSTOMIZATION DECISIONS: THE ROLES OF ASSORTMENT AND CONSIDERATION

John Godek, University of Michigan

J. Frank Yates, University of Michigan

Seigyoung Auh, Symmetrics Marketing Corporation

ABSTRACT -

Customization has become increasingly popular as a strategy to attract and retain customers. Even so, little definitive research has examined the effect of customization on consumers and their decision making. Marketers have assumed that customization is virtually guaranteed to improve upon non-customization under all conditions. There are reasons to suspect, however, that there might be specifiable conditions under which customization actually does worse than non-customization. Both managerial practice and previous research suggest that the increased decisional control afforded by customization should benefit consumers by giving them a product that better matches their preferences while simultaneously making them feel more in control of the purchase decision. However, because customized products are often compared and selected on an attribute by attribute basis rather than on an whole product basis, in addition to the effects of matching preferences and increasing control on consumers’ evaluations, consumers may also experience effects associated with perceptions of less assortment as well as consider fewer alternatives prior to making a selection. The current research compares the effects of customization and non-customization decisions on consumer’ judgment and decision making. Controlling for availability of alternatives, we hypothesized that customization decisions will lead to perceptions of less assortment as well as fewer alternatives considered, and that these effects in turn would offset some or all of the benefits derived from matching preferences and increasing decisional control. Two studies testing these predictions were conducted, with results indicating, contrary to managerial practice, that customization performs poorly when compared to a non-customization strategy.

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