Stating Preference for the Ethereal But Choosing the Concrete: How the Tangibility of Attributes Affects Attribute Weighting in Value Elicitation and Choice
29 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2003
Date Written: April 2003
Marketers routinely make use of stated consumer preferences and the relative attribute importance weights implied by these preferences when making decisions on issues such as advertising messages and product design. Using this information as a basis for managerial decision-making is risky, though, if stated preferences diverge from actual choices. Practical evidence that such a divergence is of concern is provided by the current trend towards the use of stated choice-based conjoint analysis. This article examines differences between the attribute importance weights consumers utilize during value elicitation and the attribute weights revealed to influence actual choice. The results of an empirical analysis of automobile stated preference and purchase decisions, and an experiment and subsequent qualitative analysis of wine choice, converge to suggest that consumers' attribute weightings differ in value elicitation versus choice in a reliable manner. Specifically, we demonstrate a tangibility effect - the tendency for tangible attributes to be weighted relatively more heavily than intangible attributes in choice as compared to in value elicitation. The process underlying the tangibility effect is discussed, as are the implications for researchers and managers.
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