To Each His Own? How Comparisons with Others Influence Consumers' Evaluations of Their Self-Designed Products
The vast majority of consumer behavior research has examined how consumers respond to products that are offered on a "take it or leave it" basis by the manufacturer. Self-design changes the rules substantially, allowing consumers to have much more control over the product's characteristics. This research examines the factors influencing consumers' evaluations of self-designed products. Three studies demonstrate that a superior fit between consumers' underlying preferences and their customized products cannot fully explain self-design evaluations. Comparisons with designers of comparable products can significantly influence evaluations as well. The first two experiments examine how social comparisons with the designers of similar "off-the-rack" products influence evaluations, identifying two key moderators useful in overcoming the negative effects of an upward comparison. A third study uses a real online design task to gain understanding of how the timing of the social comparison moderates the direction of the comparison (upward vs. equivalent) to influence evaluations. (c) 2009 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..
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