Managing Uncertainty in the Adoption of New Products: Temporal Distance and Mental Simulation
Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 45, pp. 320-336, June 2008
50 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2006 Last revised: 9 May 2011
Date Written: March 1, 2007
Drawing on theories of new product adoption and inter-temporal choice, we show in cross-sectional and longitudinal investigations (Study 1) that when people consider adopting a new product in the distant future, they are more concerned about performance and symbolic benefit uncertainties. In contrast, in the near future, the concerns are more about switching and affective cost uncertainties. In Studies 2 and 2A, we identify based on theories of mental simulation, communication strategies that reduce these uncertainties. We show that communication strategies that promote adoption of new products in the distant future by guiding consumers to engage in outcome simulations reduce performance uncertainty, bolster positive feelings and enhance behavioral intentions. In contrast, communication strategies that promote adoption of new products in the near future by encouraging consumers to use process simulations reduce switching cost and affective uncertainties, assuage anxiety, and increase behavioral intentions. We also find positive effects of these communication strategies on delayed behavioral intentions (Study 2A) and on actual adoption rates and post-consumption satisfaction (Study 2). We show that the efficacy of these communication strategies depends on the initial levels of uncertainty; they are more efficacious in increasing behavioral intentions when uncertainty levels are higher (Study 3). The key managerial implications that emerge from our studies are that communication strategies for new products need to reduce uncertainties around costs and benefits, and account for temporal distance to adoption in doing so.
Keywords: New Products, Consumer Behavior, Mental Simulation, Temporal Distance, Communication Strategy, Inter-temporal Choice
JEL Classification: M31, M37, M30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation