How Consumers Choose Between Equated Alternatives
Posted: 22 Nov 2006 Last revised: 23 Jan 2013
Date Written: June 30, 2009
This research investigates how consumers choose between options when prices offset perceived quality differences. We suggest that consumers choose between equated alternatives by first assessing which option is of higher quality, and then relying on their confidence in this assessment to determine how much weight to give to equating prices: The lower the confidence in their quality assessments, the more weight they give to equating prices, and the more likely they are to choose a lower-priced option against an equally attractive but higher-quality alternative. In five studies, we manipulated consumers’ confidence in their quality assessments and then asked them to choose between equated alternatives. As predicted, consumers were more likely to choose the higher-quality option against an equated alternative when they were more confident in their quality assessments. This occurred even when confidence was manipulated without altering the choice options themselves (e.g., by degrading the font of the questionnaire).
Keywords: Consumer Choice, Prominence Effect, Constructed Preferences, Behavioral Decision Theory
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