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The impact of context and promotion on consumer responses and preferences in out-of-stock situations


  • Nicole Wiebach
  • Jana L. Diels


In general, consumer preferences depend on the context of a decision situation. This paper highlights the context-dependence of substitution behavior in out-of-stock (OOS) situations and provides evidence for the relevance of promotion as essential driver of customers' OOS reactions. We demonstrate both theoretically and empirically how OOS-induced preference shifts can be explained and predicted using context and phantom theory. In a series of experiments, we show that consumers substitute in accordance to a negative similarity effect, which is reduced for stock-outs of promoted low-involvement FCMGs. If a similar substitute is offered at a reduced price, the effect is enforced. For dissimilar substitutes, we show the contrary. The empirical findings further suggest an augmented probability of purchase postponement and a significant smaller chance of brand switching for stock-outs of promotional products. Furthermore, our study emphasizes outlet switching as a so far uninvestigated OOS reaction and discusses implications for retailers and manufacturers.

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  • Nicole Wiebach & Jana L. Diels, 2011. "The impact of context and promotion on consumer responses and preferences in out-of-stock situations," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2011-050, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:hum:wpaper:sfb649dp2011-050

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. BREUGELMANS, Els & CAMPO, Katia & GIJSBRECHTS, Els, 2005. "Opportunities for active stock-out management in online stores: The impact of the stock-out policy on online stock-out reactions," Working Papers 2005005, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
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    More about this item


    Out-of-Stock; Context Effects; Phantoms; Promotion; Preference Shifts;

    JEL classification:

    • M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing
    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access

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