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

See all articles by Raquel Castaño

Raquel Castaño

Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM)

Mita Sujan

Tulane University

Manish Kacker

McMaster University - Michael G. DeGroote School of Business

Harish Sujan

Tulane University

Date Written: March 1, 2007

Abstract

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

Castaño, Raquel and Sujan, Mita and Kacker, Manish and Sujan, Harish, Managing Uncertainty in the Adoption of New Products: Temporal Distance and Mental Simulation (March 1, 2007). Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 45, pp. 320-336, June 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=942169

Raquel Castaño

Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) ( email )

Av. Eugenio Garza Sada #2501
Col. Tecnológico
Monterrey, Nuevo León 64849
Mexico

Mita Sujan

Tulane University ( email )

6823 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Manish Kacker (Contact Author)

McMaster University - Michael G. DeGroote School of Business ( email )

1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M4
Canada

Harish Sujan

Tulane University ( email )

6823 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118

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