Consumers can't be fooled twice

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Washington, Feb 24 (ANI): A high price tag, a label, or an ingredient can trick us into believing that the mediocre product we have bought is of high-quality, but one such mistake is enough for consumers to avoid being fooled by such tactics in the future, according to researchers.

In a new study, researchers have focussed on consumer responses to "biasing cues"-features that consumers assume are related to the quality of the item.

"Often consumers' beliefs about the relationship between an attribute and product quality are correct," wrote authors Wouter Vanhouche (University of Central Florida, Orlando) and Stijn van Osselaer (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University).

They added: "For example, higher-priced products are often better quality products. However, in many other cases, those beliefs are incorrect. For example, many low-priced products are actually quite good and many high-priced products are actually quite bad. Some attributes are even just irrelevant to product quality or are completely meaningless. For example, putting silk in shampoo does not do anything for hair but consumers may nevertheless expect it to."

Earlier, researchers demonstrated that biasing cues could successfully deceive consumers into buying items.

But in the new study, the researchers wanted to find out whether the same consumers would be deceived a second time.

By using laboratory experiments involving orange juice, polo shirts, and paper towels, it was found that biased quality expectations did not carry over to a second purchase.

In fact, participants learnt from those initial judgment mistakes.

"We found that consumers' quality judgments were actually made more accurate by the presence of such attributes. The presence of a high price on a low-quality orange juice or a Florida (vs. New Jersey) bottling location on a low-quality juice did not make the consumers more positive about the product one week after trying the product, but helped them to remember that the high-priced or the Florida-bottled juice was bad," said the authors.

Thus, marketers should keep in mind that consumers are not so easily duped.

"Marketers should think twice about trying to mislead consumers by putting high prices on low-quality products or by touting attributes that seem to signal quality but in reality are meaningless. Marketers using such attributes may succeed at getting consumers to try their products, but the misleading actions are likely to backfire at the time of repeat purchase," wrote the authors.

The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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