While some may say that sales from the iPhone 5 have been less than expected, the fact that over 2 million phones have been sold shows that consumers again have decided to upgrade.
A central question involving the purchase of this particular item, or any luxury or elective purchase remains: Once the novelty of the new purchase wears off, will consumers still enjoy their purchase?
According to new research, the answer to the question depends on why an individual makes the purchase.
Across five studies and four product domains, Joseph K. Goodman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of marketing at Washington University in St. Louis, found that consumers often fail to evaluate how often they will use the new features of the product.
If this happens, a consumer may not be pleased and can become dissatisfied with the product.
“We propose that consumers focus on having features instead of elaborating on how often a feature will be used, and this can lead to a decrease in product satisfaction,” Goodman said.
He and his co-author, Caglar Irmak, Ph.D., show that this shift in preferences is due to a change in elaboration from using to having features.
In the study, researchers determined 3 factors influence this perceptual change: need for cognition, feature trivialness and materialism.
“Consumers focus too much on just having the latest features, and don’t spend time elaborating on how often they will use the features,” Goodman said. “When they do actually elaborate on usage, then they tend to buy lower featured products and they tend to be more satisfied with their purchase, regardless of whether they buy a high or low feature product.”
What should consumers do?
“Our findings can’t tell consumers what to buy, but they do suggest that consumers should at least stop and consider how often they are going to use each new additional feature before they make their decision,” Goodman said. “This little act of consideration can lead to greater satisfaction down the road.”
The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research.