In a study that sheds new light on how consumers choose between pleasurable or practical products, a University of Washington researcher has found that people are more likely to buy fun products, but only if the situation allows them the flexibility to rationalize their purchases.
According to Erica Okada, an assistant professor of marketing at the UW Business School, goods can be broadly categorized into hedonic goods that offer enjoyment and utilitarian goods that offer practical functionality. For example, she said, in the wide product category of automobiles, sports cars are more hedonic and sport utility vehicles are generally more utilitarian. Between a sports car and an SUV, consumers may find the prospect of buying a sports car more appealing, but in a side by side comparison, consumers are much more likely to buy the SUV to avoid feeling guilty for buying something that is perceived more as a want than a need.
She found that when a hedonic product and a utilitarian one of comparable value are each presented singly for evaluation, the hedonic alternative tends to elicit a higher rating. However, when the two are presented side by side, the utilitarian alternative is more likely to be chosen.
Nancy Gardner | EurekAlert!
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