It is well-known that during ovulation, women tend to prefer a wider dating pool from which to choose a partner. But new findings show that this desire for variety may branch out into seeking greater choices in consumer products and services as well, according to new research from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Business.
“Just like a fisherman casting a wide net, ovulating women seek to cast a wide net into the dating pool and expand the number of potential suitors they have to choose from,” said lead researcher Kristina M. Durante, Ph.D., UTSA marketing assistant professor.
“And, this desire for variety in men at ovulation triggers a variety-seeking mindset that carries over into desire for variety in products.”
The findings provide some of the first evidence that choice behavior in our personal relationships may influence choice behavior in the marketplace. Durante and co-author Ashley Rae Arsena, Ph.D., a UTSA visiting assistant professor, focused their predictions on previous research that found that that ovulation can shift women’s mating psychology.
The study involved 553 female participants, ages 18-40, who were not pregnant or taking hormonal contraceptives. The findings showed that women’s desire for new options in men triggered a variety-seeking mindset that led women to also desire a variety in consumer products. Furthermore, feeling loyalty to a romantic partner reduced the desire for product variety, suggesting that loyalty in romantic relationships can translate to brand loyalty.
“From candy bars to cosmetics, ovulating women chose many different options — not just the same product or brand again and again,” said Durante.
“However, when we had women imagine themselves in a loving relationship with a desirable partner, or when we had married women put on their wedding rings, they no longer desired variety near ovulation.”
The findings have practical implications for marketers. “For about a week every month, normally cycling women, constituting over a billion consumers, may be especially likely to respond to appeals by competing brands to switch,” says Durante.
Future studies are needed to determine whether the social value, cost or rewarding nature of the product influences the effect of fertility on variety-seeking.
The article will be published in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.