Journal Article

The Impact of Add-On Features on Consumer Product Evaluations

Marco Bertini, Elie Ofek and Dan Ariely

in Journal of Consumer Research

Volume 36, issue 1, pages 17-28
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0093-5301
Published online December 2008 | e-ISSN: 1537-5277 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1086/596717
The Impact of Add-On Features on Consumer Product Evaluations

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The research presented in this article provides evidence that add-on features sold to enhance a product can be more than just discretionary benefits. We argue that consumers draw inferences from the mere availability of add-ons, which in turn lead to significant changes in the perceived utility of the base good itself. Specifically, we propose that the improvements supplied by add-ons can be classified as either alignable or nonalignable and that they have opposing effects on evaluation. A set of four experiments with different product categories confirms this prediction. In addition, we show that the amount of product information available to consumers and expectations about product composition play important moderating roles. From a practical standpoint, these results highlight the need for firms to be mindful of the behavioral implications of making add-ons readily available in the marketplace.

Keywords: Behavioral Decision Theory; Cognitive Processes; Inference Making; Product Design and Perceptions; Situation/Context Issues

Journal Article.  9955 words.  Illustrated.

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