Special Session Summary Compelling Relationships Between Products and Consumers

Julie A. Ruth, Rutgers UniversityBCamden
[ to cite ]:
Julie A. Ruth (2003) ,"Special Session Summary Compelling Relationships Between Products and Consumers", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, eds. Punam Anand Keller and Dennis W. Rook, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 216-221.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, 2003     Pages 216-221



Julie A. Ruth, Rutgers UniversityBCamden

This session addresses an area of growing interest to consumer researchersBhow the act of consumption affects consumers’ lives. The three papers examine how consumers use and experience products that have strong effects on them and ultimately are reflected in "compelling" relationships between the consumer and the product or brand (Fournier 1998). Specifically, the papers examined these compelling consumer/product relationships as reflected in consumers that have been transformed by products (Otnes and Ruth), consumers that believe they would be transformed by product ownership and use ("aspirational transformations"; Richins), and consumers who believe they now cannot live without certain products (Durgee). Across the three papers, two fundamental questions were raised:

What types of products are "compelling" by virtue of being transformative, potentially transformative, or those consumers cannot live without?

If the range of these products is seemingly unlimited and spans from hand lotion to email to microwave ovens and swimming pools, what are the underlying dimensions of these products’ meaning and the "reasons" for consumers’ adherence to them?

The first paper by Cele Otnes and Julie Ruth, "The Roles of 'Everyday’ Transformational Products and Services in Consumers’ Lives," takes a social roles perspective and observes that transformative products play active, symbolic, and communicative roles in their relationship with consumers. For example, transformative products and services can express positive social roles such as Emancipators or Magicians by freeing consumers from painful constraints (e.g., microwave ovens), or they can enact negative roles such as Masters (e.g., cigarettes). In the second paper, "Aspirational Transformations Among Consumers," Marsha Richins finds that materialism plays a critical role in aspirational transformations. That is, consumers high in materialism expect to achieve hedonic, self, and relational transformations and to achieve more autonomy and control if they had higher incomes. In contrast, low materialism respondents believe that none of these transformations would occur as a result of acquisition. In the third paper, "CADWOs: New Products Consumers Cannot Do Without," Jeffrey Durgee observes that CADWOs are those products with a "positive dependency" (see Fournier and Mick 1999) that are used frequently and have multiple usage functions.

Drawing on her expertise regarding consumers’ special possessions, consumers’ friendship relationships with service providers, and how ordinary and extraordinary experiential products create meaning for consumers, Linda Price led a discussion of the papers presented in the session. Price also encouraged consideration of consumer imagination, and how productsBand the relationships consumers form with themBunfold over time.



Cele C. Otnes, University of Illinois

Julie A. Ruth, Rutgers UniversityBCamden


In recent years, Fournier (1998) and other scholars have demonstrated how key components of interpersonal relationships are relevant to the study of the relationships between consumers and products. One type of consumer-product relationship that has received scant attention is that of transformational products and services. We define transformation as a process by which the consumer is changed in some psychological, emotional, social, economic, or other fashion through contact with the product.

We use an interpretive approach in exploring depth interview data, where informants described a product or service that transformed them in some way. Through reading and re-reading the data, social role theory emerged to explain consumers’ anthropomorphizing of products (e.g., "We’re partners now. I have an endearment toward" [the product]). Using the tenets of social role theory articulated by Mead (1934), we argue that transformational products or services acquire their power by expressing distinct social roles in their relationships with consumers. Role theory is especially relevant to transformational products since it is based on the notion that certain social situationsBsuch as consumptionBelicit perceptual expectations regarding appropriate behavior and interactions. Moreover, role theory has been used to explain consumer behavior in other contexts such as gift exchange (Otnes, Lowrey, and Kim 1993; Ruth forthcoming).

In this study, both positive and negative social roles emerged as expressions of consumers’ experiences with transformative products such as garlic pills, 401K plans, cell phones, bicycles, and microwave ovens. Positive social roles include Assistants, Emancipators, and Enlighteners; negative social roles include Seducers and Torturers. In general, consumers expressed multiple social roles, and often experienced a combination of positive and negative social roles, vis-a-vis consumption of transformative products. Through better understanding how consumers come to experience and be changed by product usage and consumption, these findings have implications for consumer research on satisfaction, new product development, brand relationships, and purchase influence.


Fournier, Susan (1998), "Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, 24 (March), 343-373.

Otnes, Cele, Tina M. Lowrey and Young Chan Kim (1993), "Gift Giving for 'Easy’ and 'Difficult’ Recipients: A Social Roles Interpretation," Journal of Consumer Research, 20 (September), 229-244.

Ruth, Julie A. (forthcoming), "Gift-Exchange Rituals in the Workplace: A Social Roles Interpretation," in Contemporary Consumption Rituals: An Interdisciplinary Research Anthology, ed. Cele C. Otnes and Tina M. Lowrey, New York: Erlbaum.



Marsha L. Richins, University of Missouri


Americans have strong desires for things. They work long hours to pay for goods, and consumer debt continues to rise, increasing 73 percent between 1989 and 1998 (Kinnickell, Starr-McCluer, and Surette 2000). One survey (Kanner 2001) found that 65 percent of respondents would spend a year on a deserted island to earn $1 million, and 30 percent said they would serve six months in jail for someone else for that amount. Despite the well-documented desire for more among American consumers, the motivations for this desire are poorly understood. This research is an attempt to further our understanding of this phenomenon by addressing why consumers so strongly want more things.

Previous research has suggested several functions that goods play in consumers’ lives (beyond their utilitarian purposes) and that may serve to motivate consumption. An extensive literature shows how possessions can develop and preserve a positive sense of self (e.g., Belk 1988; Kleine, Kleine, and Kernan 1993). Other studies have noted the important symbolic functions of products, particularly in their use to communicate aspects of the self to others (e.g., Wicklund and Gollwitzer 1982; Dittmar 1992). Yet other studies have noted how consumers use goods to communicate a higher status to others (LaBarbera 1988; Mason 1981). While these studies make important contributions to the understanding of motives for consumption, the literature has failed to examine consumers’ own views of acquisition and the benefits they hope to obtain by having more. The research described in this paper addresses this gap by directly asking consumers about acquisition.

Two qualitative studies were carried out to examine motivations for acquisition. In one study, consumers described how their lives might change if they had more money and were able to purchase more things. In a second study, informants in depth interviews described how their lives might change if they were able to acquire a desired product that they so far had been unable to obtain (usually because of cost considerations).

From these studies, the notion of aspirational transformations emerged. Aspirational transformations are significant changes to one’s life that a consumer expects to receive if he/she purchased a desired item. These aspirations fell into four major categories: hedonic transformations, self transformations, relational transformations, and autonomy and control.

It is hypothesized that materialism is motivated in part by aspirational transformations. Two surveys of adult consumers were conducted to test this idea. The surveys contained measures of aspirational transformations, which were based on data obtained from the qualitative studies. Materialism was measured using the Material Values Scale developed by Richins and Dawson (1992).

In the first survey, respondents completed the aspirational transformations measures to describe changes that would occur if they had more money. In the second survey, respondents described changes that would occur if they were able to acquire a desired product that they so far had been unable to obtain.

In the first survey, materialism was significantly and strongly correlated with all the transformations studied. That is, consumers high in materialism expected to achieve hedonic, self, and relational transformations and to achieve more autonomy and control if they had higher incomes. Low materialism respondents tended to believe that none of these transformations would occur as a result of acquisition. The second study, which dealt with a single acquisition of a desired product, produced similar results.

These findings suggest that aspirational transformations are a potent factor in materialism, and for high materialism consumers, these aspirational transformations appear to be important motivators of acquisition. Aspirational transformations may explain why some consumers go so heavily into debt or work such long hours that they have little time for their families.


Belk, Russell W. (1988), "Possessions and the Extended Self," Journal of Consumer Research, 15 (September), 139-168.

Dittmar, Helga (1992), "Perceived Material Wealth and First Impressions," British Journal of Social Psychology, 31 (December), 379-391.

Kanner, Bernice (2001), Are You Normal About Money?, Princeton, NJ: Bloomberg Press.

Kennickell, Arthur B., Martha Starr-McCluer and Brian J. Surette (2000), "Recent Changes in U.S. Family Finances: Results from the 1998 Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, 86 (January), 1-29.

Kleine, Robert E., III, Susan Schultz Kleine and Jerome B. Kernan (1993), "Mundane Consumption and the Self: A Social-Identity Perspective," Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2 (3), 209-235.

LaBarbera, Priscilla A. (1988), "The Nouveaux Riches: Conspicuous Consumption and the Issue of Self-Fulfillment," in Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 3, ed. Elizabeth Hirschman and Jagdish N. Sheth, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 179-210.

Mason, Roger S. (1981), Conspicuous Consumption: A Study of Exceptional Consumer Behavior, Westmead, England: Gower Publishing Company.

Richins, Marsha L. and Scott Dawson (1992), "A Consumer Values Orientation for Materialism and Its Measurement: Scale Development and Validation," Journal of Consumer Research, 19 (December), 303-316.

Wicklund, Robert A. and Peter M. Gollwitzer (1982), Symbolic Self-Completion, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.



Jeffrey F. Durgee, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


This research examines a category of products called "cadwos," or new products consumers find they cannot do without. In an exploratory study of 110 young adults, the most common cadwos include such things as refrigerators, clothes washers and personal computers. It appears that these types of products share three key properties: frequent use, multi-functionality, and localized or concentrated benefits in time and space. This paper examines some basic questions about cadwos including what they are, how to generate ideas for new cadwo product concepts, and how to evaluate consume responses to new cadwo product concepts in concept tests.


Marketing has many stories about beta tests in which target buyers initially refused to do the testsBthen refused to return the products once the tests were completed (Morone 1993; Dolan l993). The needs for the products were there all along. They simply could not be assessed using standard concept test methods.

This paper explores the idea of the "cadwo," or the product that consumers might initially refuse (e.g., because of radical technology) but come to learn later that they cannot do without. Fournier and Mick (l995) call the latter condition a state of "positive dependency" and represent it in terms of a model they call the CLalt model. In this model, satisfaction with a new household or office technology is defined in terms of perceived rewards of that item minus costs incurred to obtain and use itBas compared to rewards of using an earlier version of the technology minus costs of obtaining and using it. I am very upset when my car breaks down because I don’t like to have to wait for the bus to get to work. A less scientific way to describe these items might be to use Gladwell’s (2000) term "sticky." Unlike new products that are D.O.A.Bor fads that take off then quickly burn outBcadwos are products that are introduced and then become very hard to dislodge from peoples’ daily lives. They become fixed or "sticky" parts of daily routines. As "Bonita," a respondent in a recent paper by Mick and Fournier (l998, p. 129) said, "Well, I mean in a way any technology you get, once you get used to having it, you can’t live without it."

Note the differences here between cadwo "addiction" and the type of addiction described in Hirschman’s (1992) article about addiction to drugs and alcohol. In Hirschman’s article, the addictions are largely pharmacological in nature, result from life stresses, and tend to involve serial addictive patterns, for example, people going from alcohol to drugs to stronger drugs. As we will see, in cadwo addiction, the dependency is based on the system-like character of which the new technology is the lynchpin. That my email enables me to be in touch with many different people and many different websites might not be particularly pleasurableBbut if it goes down, and I am suddenly cut off from many different contacts and activities, I feel the loss very severely.

The purpose of this research is to explore the cadwo or positive dependency experience and understand what it means to consumers. Since the cadwo concept is new, this paper represents an overview of some exploratory or starting point questions and provides some tentative answers. Specifically, we will explore:

What is a cadwo?

What are some examples of cadwos? What attributes do they share?

How can new product planners generate ideas for new cadwos?

How should cadwos be evaluated in consumer tests since they do not involve standard "liking" measures found in most concept tests but rather measures of unwillingness to give up?

What is a cadwo?

As indicated above, a cadwo is an item a person cannot do without. The Fournier and Mick (l999) CLalt model, which represents similar properties to cadwos, might be represented as follows:

Satisfaction with new technology=(ABB)B(CBD)

Here, A is the perceived reward of the new technology, B is the cost associated with the new technology, C is the perceived reward of the old technology, and D is the cost of using the old technology. In most cases, B would be higher than D. The monetary costs, for example, of buying and installing a garbage disposal would be higher than the monetary costs of getting a garbage pail.

The cadwo model is a little different and looks like this:

Satisfaction=((A1 + A2 + An)BB))B (CBD)

In this formula, all the "A" variables represent all the new benefits the cadwo brings.

People are constantly finding new uses for cadwos. For example, phone answering machines are now widely used to leave special messages and screen incoming calls and as well as record sender messages (Mick and Fournier 1998).

Most new product design and development research is based on how well target buyers like a new idea. Target consumers might, for example, rate a new concept in terms of overall appeal and intent-to-buy. The idea of the cadwo suggests an alternate dimension that might even be orthogonal to liking: unwillingness to give something up. As Fournier and Mick (1999) point outBand Thibaut and Kelley (l959) noted before themBpositively valued dependency and satisfaction might be independent variables. High liking (as well as other basic factors from diffusion of innovation theory; Rogers l995) explains the fast diffusion of innovations such as the personal computer. Unwillingness to give upBas well as absence of new replacement technologiesBexplains the long tails in the product life cycles of products such as washing machines and ATMs. Unwillingness to give up might also be more associated with slow-diffusion items such as the microwave oven and air-conditioning.

Although liking and unwillingness to give up are linear dimensions, we might classify products as being high or low on each. This would give us four types of products as shown in Table 1: 1. Hi likeBlow willingness to give up; 2. Hi likeBhigh willingness to give up; 3. Low likeBlow willingness to give up; and 4. Low likeBhigh willingness to give up.

As part of this research, a small sample (n=9) of young adults (MBA students) was asked to think of items they would put in each category. Items they liked and found hard to give up (Cell 1) included pillows, automobiles and mountain bikes. Examples of products they dislike and would find easy to do without (cell 4) included manual pencil sharpeners and Listerine mouthwash.

The paradoxes, of course, are in cells 2 and 3.

Cell 2 included potato chips and television. People say about these items, "I like this but I could easily do without it for a while." Potato chips are liked but have no real benefit Band most television is like potato chips for the mind. (In fact, students tend not to watch much TV so most could easily do without it.) The general feeling here is one o ambivalence, as in "I don’t really need this; take it away."

Cell 3 included vegetables and toilets. People say they don’t like these much but they have to have them each day. If respondents were probed further, they might mention such things as some of the new medical technologies. Nobody likes the new medical testing technologies such as CAT scans and colonoscopies, yet most people realize that they have to have them.

Cell 3 items represent the greatest opportunity for new products and services. In other words, if an existing product falls in Cell 3, it would represent the best opportunity for a new or redesigned product. Many companies have been very successful at taking products that people needBbut don’t likeBand giving them more likeable qualities. Children never liked vitamins, but they like the new chewable, flavored children’s vitamins. Few people enjoy vacuuming, but a new vacuum cleaner was just introduced which includes a built-in radio and headphones.

Where are cadwos? In cells 1 and 3. The perfect new product is obviously one in cell 1, that is, a product that is liked and offers can’t-live-without functionality. The marketing of items here probably goes fast and easy. When refrigerators were first introduced, they diffused very rapidly throughout the United States (Forty l986).

At the same time, if someone doesn’t particularly like something but has to have it (cell 3), they will buy it and it becomes a cadwo. In fact, the life span of many products probably begins in cell 3, moves to cell 1, and then finishes in cell 2. The first trains in the U.S. were dangerous and dirty but met important transportation needs (cell 3). Later trains became luxurious, fast, and comfortable (cell 1). They were well-liked and were vital to the economic and social life of the country. Today, most trains are not needed but rather are ridden as curiosities at historic theme parks (cell 2; Forty l986). They are liked but are hardly necessary.

What Are Some Examples of Cadwos? What Attributes Do They Share?

In a recent study, a convenience sample of 110 upstate New York consumers, ages 21 to 34 (equal male and female), were given a list of 27 everyday products and asked to indicate which they ownedBand then which 10 of those "would be the most difficult to give up." The results are shown in Table 2.

Obviously, many of these results are very subjective. One person’s cadwo may well be another person’s junk. Also, where should we draw the line on a given item? What qualifies something to be a cadwo? That 60 percent or more feel they can’t live without it? How about 50 percent?





While this list hardly includes all items that might be cadwos (particularly many new technologies such as cell phones and email), the results are interesting. Nearly everyone owns or has access to a refrigeratorBand almost everyone (98%) agrees that refrigerators would be very hard to give up. Similarly, owners of clothes washers would also find clothes washers very hard to do without (90 %). The clothes washer result reflects results from an earlier study of why people rent things instead of buying them (Durgee and O’Connor 1995). In the rental study, low-income people were most reluctant to lose their rental washer-dryer combinations (versus rental TVs, furniture, stereos) because it would mean they would have to go back to the dreaded alternative of the laundromat.

On the other end, respondents were relatively amenable to parting with lawnmowers, Mr. Coffee machines, and hair dryers. Asked to separate out items they really need versus those they need less, people tend to put these types of items in the latter category.

Thus, key criteria distinguishing cadwos from other products include the following:

1. Frequent use. Refrigerators, clothes washers and personal computers are used on a daily basis. As indicated earlier, these iems become embedded in daily rituals and routines. Like retired executives who sorely miss their administrative assistants, consumers who are denied access to these technologies are very frustrated.

Most of the cadwos represent interesting solutions to daily, long-nagging problems. Many years ago, it was an ongoing struggle to get the laundry doneBso clothes washers represented a welcome solution. Waiting for the bank to open was a long-nagging problem so ATMs were a Godsend. If a cadwo is broken or missing, the user feels the loss on a sustained basis. If the personal computer is broken, one probably needs to find some type of substitute every day until it is fixed.

2. Multi-functionality. People keep inventing new uses for the products at the top of the lists. Personal computers can do many different tasks, microwave ovens can cook many different foods, and refrigerators preserve lots of foods as well as help make them (Jell-o, fudge). In contrast, lawnmowers simply cut grass, hair dryers dry hair, and Mr. Coffee makes coffee.

That a new product should stress many different capabilities represents a somewhat different approach from most new product thinking today. Urban and Hauser (l993), for example, stress the importance of the new product CBP or "core benefit proposition." The CBP is a highly focused function or capability of a new product that becomes the starting point and inspiration for all design and marketing efforts for that product. The CBP for Tylenol, for example, is that it is a pain reliever that doesn=t upset one’s stomach. The CBP approach probably explains the market success of Porsche automobiles. Porsches are highly focused high performance cars, and everything about themBadvertising, racing programs, and stylingBreflects this identity. If they are cadwos, it’s because this identity resonates extremely well with Porsche buyers. They would be unable to part with their cars because of a purely emotional bond. In our model, however, a more likely car cadwo would be a truck, van, SUV or station wagon. Suburban women in the US report being highly dependent on their mini-vans. They might not like being referred to as "soccer moms" (Fournier) but they value their vans for their abilities to carry children, groceries, pets, large household items, etc. Versatility and multi-functionality have been identified in earlier studies as key determinants of "product rightness" (Durgee and O’Connor l995).

3. Localize functions in time and place. If one is using an old icebox instead of a refrigerator, one needs to buy ice, haul it to the box, and get rid of the melted ice water. In other words, with an old icebox, there are many actions over time that involve some physical distance from the box. With a refrigerator, in contrast, all relevant operations and functions are localized in the technology in time and place. The interaction with the technology is concentrated and brief. The time difference in using a cadwo such as a clothes washer versus an old hand washboard is much greater than the difference in using a lawnmower versus an old push mower, or a Mr. Coffee versus an old coffee percolator. People rely on cadwos to save time.

Obviously, many of these criteria overlap. Multi-functionality relates closely with localizing a lot of functions, and it also relates directly with frequent usage. The important thing to remember is the extent to which cadwos seem to put more and more tentacles into separate activity or function areas in peoples’ lives. If a cadwo is taken away, it can impact many different activity spheres.

How Can New Product Planners Generate Ideas for New Cadwos?

In order to come up with ideas for new cadwos, the first step is to consider the types of long-nagging problems referred to above. For products in the category, what are some ongoing obvious and non-obvious problems? What aspects of the product design or consumption ritual are particularly bothersome?

Once these problems are identified, the next step is to come up with relevant solutions. It might be said, for example, that the problem of rushed dinners found a "solution" in the microwave oven, and the problems associated with high fat foods led to low-fat foods.

The next step is to screen the solutions or new product ideas in terms of the cadwo criteria above. An idea is more likely to be a cadwo if the product will be used often, has many different functions, and concentrates functions and operations in time and place. Thus far, electric cars have not been very successful in the market. They might be used on a daily basis, but they don’t have many functions other than limited personal travel.

A lot of imagination is required here, but the main requirement is that the product planner has a lot of empathy with target buyers. This is important because the planner should be able to screen the ideas based on his or her feelings about whether or not he or she could live without this product after having used it for one year. What would it feel like to use the product in question for a year, and then have to give it up?

Back to automobiles. The automobile itself is probably a major cadwo insofar as providers of mass transit have tried many years to lure drivers from their cars but seldom succeeded. Inside the automobile, car owners report that many seemingly trivial recent innovations have become important parts of their daily drives. The cup-holder is one and so is the car phone.

What are some new ideas for automobiles and other categories that might become cadwos? What are some new ideas for other categories?

Sample Cadwo Concepts

This section reviews sample concepts for new products from three categories: automobiles, personal computers, and cameras. The ideation process described above was followed, and the resulting concepts are listed below. All concepts are intended to be cadwos.

Five-Minute Autopilot: An automatic steering and driving control that lets drivers do other things for brief, 5-minute intervals. The car is guided by reading the side of the road or the car in front. Benefit: drivers can do other activities: consult map, quiet children, operate other controls in car for brief moments. Device is completely safe because driver can override it at any moment.

Mouthpiece Machine: A device attached to the plumbing and a control center under the bathroom sink by two long hoses. At the end of the hose is a device that resembles the mouthpiece unit from a scuba gear regulator or a common snorkel that fits in the mouth and around the outside of the lips. A button is pushed on the wall which activates, in quick sequence: (1) A quick stream of water in and out of the mouth through the hose; (2) A stream of warm water in and out of mouth which carries liquid toothpaste; (3) Brushes are activated in the mouthpiece to brush the teeth and gums; (4) A stream of warm rinse water goes in and out of the mouth through the hose; and (5) A final stream of mouthwash goes quickly in and out of the mouth through the hose, all actions taking 4 seconds or less, hands free.

Power Boost Pill: A pill that can be taken for temporary boosts of physical strength. If one needs to lift heavy objects, engage in a physically difficult sport, be prepared to defend oneself, this pill greatly enhances muscle strength. This pill is completely safe.

No Sleep Pill: A pill that enables one to stay awake and fully alert for 40 straight hours. The user then gets a regular 8-hour sleep, and can go back to his or her normal routine. This pill is completely safe.

How Should Cadwos Be Evaluated in Consumer Tests Since They Do Not Involve Standard "Liking" Measures Found in Most Concep Tests but Rather Measures of Unwillingness to Give Up?

The point was made earlier that by their nature, cadwo concepts are difficult to assess using standard concept tests. It is difficult to assess their appeal and long-term market success. It is only through beta testing that users can actually experience the item and appreciate how important it might become in their daily lives.

Could cadwos be identified before a beta test? Could consumer respondents imagine their lives with these innovations and the impact of having them taken away? How would the products above perform in a standard concept test insofar as they came out of the cadwo ideation process? What would a cadwo test be like?

In order to explore these questions, two samples of undergraduate students were exposed to the four ideas described above. The samples consisted of equal numbers of males and females, and included 58 respondents in the first sample, and 62 in the second. The first sample was asked to read the concepts and rate each concept in terms of overall likeability, from one to ten (low like to high; see Crawford l991). The second sample was asked to read the same concepts then follow these instructions: "Imagine for a few minutes what it would be like to have and use this product on a regular basis. Close your eyes and picture yourself using it on a regular basis including all the things you could do with it, all the things it would make possible. After using it for 6 months, how hard would it be to give it up? (Circle number, from 1 to 10, 'Easy to give up’ versus 'Hard to give up’.)" The goal in the latter question is to push them into imagining each item as part of their daily routines and how they feel in depth about having that item in these routines.




Results (Table 3) reflect the generally high acceptance for all the concepts except the mouthpiece machine.

To repeat, these concepts were deliberately developed to represent cadwos. They were intended to meet as many cadwo criteria as possible: frequent use, multi-functionality and general high daily life dependencyBso the favorable results (except for the mouthpiece machine) are not too surprising. In fact, most concepts generated very animated responses as respondents later spoke of new uses and applications for each: "I could use the autopilot to look at maps," "I could read the paper and drive!" While it turned out that one item already exists (no sleep pill), nearly all of the respondents were not aware of it, so it was still a valid representation of a new product idea.

Looking across the numbers, there was not much change from likeability ratings to ratings regarding unwillingness to give up. Respondents seemed to have their minds made up about the general desirability of an item, so there would not be much change. It was expected that concepts that scored relatively low in terms of likeability might do better when tested on the cadwo dimension. While there was no increase in the scores for the autopilot, there were increases for the mouthpiece machine, the power boost pill, and the no sleep pill. For these products, in cases where conventional concepts tests might suggest a good market for the product, a cadwo question would indicate a market that is a little stronger and more promising.

The questionBwould you be willing to give this up after a yearBis one that would certainly gather more information in concept research, particularly qualitative research.


The purpose of this paper was to explore the idea of the cadwo, a type of product that consumers feel they cannot do without. Results from two studies indicated that consumers are able to rank order everyday goods along this dimension, and can represent products in terms of those they can live withoutBversus those they would never part with. The latter all seem to have the attributes of frequent daily use and multi-functionality. Directions were provided for how to think up ideas for cadwos, and results from a small test were reported which explored how to identify cadwos in a list of new product concepts.

In order to market cadwos, it would probably be necessary to include a lengthy trial period. People might be initially skeptical of the product since many are very unique. The trial would give them a good opportunity to invent new uses for the product and feel it was a cadwo.


Crawford, C. Merle (1991), New Products Management, Boston: Irwin.

Dolan, Robert (1993), "Northern Telecom (A)," Harvard Business School Case 9-594-051, Boston: Harvard Business School.

Durgee, Jeffrey F. and Gina C. O’Connor (1995), "An Exploration Into Renting as Consumption Behavior," Psychology and Marketing, Winter, 89-104.

Durgee, Jeffrey F. and Gina C. O’Connor (1995), "Why Some Products Just Feel Right, or The Phenomenology of Product Rightness," in Advances in Consumer Research, ed. Frank Kardes and Mita Sujan, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research.

Forty, Adrian (1986), Objects of Desire, London: Pantheon.

Fournier, Susan and David Glen Mick (1999), "Rediscovering Satisfaction," Journal of Marketing, October, 5-23.

Gladwell, Malcolm (2000), The Tipping Point, Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Hirschman, Elizabeth (1992), "The Consciousness of Addiction: Toward a General Theory of Compulsive Consumption," Journal of Consumer Research, 19 (September), 155-179.

Mick, David Glen and Susan Fournier (1998), "Paradoxes of Technology: Consumer Cognizance, Emotions, and Coping Strategies," Journal of Consumer Research, (Sept.), 123-143.

Morone, Joseph G. (1993), Winning in High-Tech Markets, Boston: Harvard Business School.

Rogers, Everett M. (1995), Diffusion of Innovations, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Urban, Glenn and John Hauser (1993), Design and Marketing of New Products, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.