The Effect of Product Presentation Format and Product Knowledge on the Evaluation of an Interactive Product Design System

Niels Y. Vink, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Jan P.L. Schoormans, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Robert W. Veryzer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - There is an increasing need for individualized products. To help consumers define these individualized products companies employ computerized systems that can be used in shops and on the Internet. This interactive process of product optimization is called Interactive Product Design (IPD). Interactive Product Design can be used in shops and on the Internet. These systems guide consumers through the process of designing their individualized product. Consumers choose the product attributes and receive feedback based on the attribute choice by the consumer. As the use of IPD increases, questions concerning how product information should be represented to consumers in order to provide the correct impression of the product become extremely important.
[ to cite ]:
Niels Y. Vink, Jan P.L. Schoormans, and Robert W. Veryzer (2002) ,"The Effect of Product Presentation Format and Product Knowledge on the Evaluation of an Interactive Product Design System", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, eds. Susan M. Broniarczyk and Kent Nakamoto, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 268-269.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, 2002     Pages 268-269

THE EFFECT OF PRODUCT PRESENTATION FORMAT AND PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE ON THE EVALUATION OF AN INTERACTIVE PRODUCT DESIGN SYSTEM

Niels Y. Vink, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

Jan P.L. Schoormans, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

Robert W. Veryzer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

There is an increasing need for individualized products. To help consumers define these individualized products companies employ computerized systems that can be used in shops and on the Internet. This interactive process of product optimization is called Interactive Product Design (IPD). Interactive Product Design can be used in shops and on the Internet. These systems guide consumers through the process of designing their individualized product. Consumers choose the product attributes and receive feedback based on the attribute choice by the consumer. As the use of IPD increases, questions concerning how product information should be represented to consumers in order to provide the correct impression of the product become extremely important.

The representation of information in an Interactive Product Design System is an important issue. Evaluation of products in such a system may be affected by the way products are represented. Product information on a screen can be of several formats. This information can be presented either verbally or visually. Nowadays, it would be unthinkable that information would be presented in a verbal format only. Therefore information in a visual format is investigated in this study. The product information could be presented by alternatives or by attributes. Respondents search through either a collection of alternatives or attributes to find their optimal product (e.g. Bettman and Kakkar, 1977). When the number of alternatives is large, it is impossible to display all alternatives on a computer screen. Visual product attributes can be displayed either by aggregated attributes or disaggregated attributes. In a disaggregated attribute format the whole product is shown, while in an aggregated attribute format the separate attributes are shown.

The product knowledge that consumers already possess may also influence consumers. Alba and Hutchinson (1987) argued that consumers with high product knowledge are able to fill in gaps in the presented product information by product information from memory. In this study the effects of presentation format and product knowledge are investigated.

To investigate these effects an experiment with a 2x2 between subject design was conduted. The respondents were asked to interact with visual product information on a screen. Every respondent configured a bike and completed a questionnaire. The independent variables were the presentation format (aggregate, disaggregate) and the product knowledge (low, high). We were interested in the effects of these variables on the Interactive Product Design System and on the product resulting from this system. Therefore the measures either referred to the system or to the product.

The results showed that consumers preferred an Interactive Product Design System that provided information in an aggregated format compared with a disaggregated format. This presentation format also led to higher satisfaction with the system. Furthermore, consumers were more confident about the system when information was presented in an aggregated format as compared to a disaggregated format.

Product evaluation was also influenced by the presentation format and product knowledge. The results showed that the presentation format influenced the evaluation of products, but only when consumers had low product knowledge. Consumers with high product knowledge used both the product information stored in memory and the product information represented on the screen to form an evaluation. Therefore they are less likely to be influenced by the presentation format.

These results lead to opposite recommendations for the design of an Interactive Product Design System. After all, consumers are most satisfied and most confident when the visual product information is presented on the computer screen in an aggregated format. However, the product evaluations are highest, when the visual product information is presented in a disaggregated format. The results indicate the complexity of the choices faced by a firm in constructing an IPD system. We recommend that the information in an Interactive Product Design System should be presented in an aggregate format. In this way consumers can also evaluate the configural ways in which the attributes are related and have a greater potential for high satisfaction in the long-run.

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