Comparison Neglect in Upgrade Decisions

Journal of Marketing Research, Forthcoming

54 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2014 Last revised: 19 Aug 2016

See all articles by Aner Sela

Aner Sela

University of Florida - Department of Marketing

Robyn A. LeBoeuf

Washington University in St. Louis

Date Written: August 10, 2016


To properly evaluate a potential product upgrade, consumers should compare the upgraded option with the product they already own in order to assess the upgrade’s added utility. However, although consumers explicitly and spontaneously acknowledge the importance of comparing the upgrade to the status quo, we find that they often fail to do so. Consequently, they often buy product upgrades that they would not have bought had they followed their own advice. Five experiments, involving both real and hypothetical upgrade decisions, show that even when the status quo option is represented in the decision context, if consumers are not explicitly prompted to reflect on it or compare it to the upgraded option, they often do not compare it to the upgrade and consequently show an elevated likelihood of upgrading. The experiments suggest that this “comparison neglect” increases upgrade likelihood by making people overlook the similarities between the upgraded and status quo options and that it persists even when deliberation effort is high. The findings have important implications for theory, marketing practice, and consumer welfare.

Keywords: status quo bias, comparison, product upgrades, consumerism, focalism

Suggested Citation

Sela, Aner and LeBoeuf, Robyn A., Comparison Neglect in Upgrade Decisions (August 10, 2016). Journal of Marketing Research, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Aner Sela (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Department of Marketing ( email )

267F Stuzin Hall
Gainesville, FL 32611
United States


Robyn A. LeBoeuf

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

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