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A good way to boost sales? Effects of the proportion of sold-out options on purchase behavior

Jing Tian, Rong Chen and Xiaobing Xu

International Journal of Research in Marketing, 2022, vol. 39, issue 1, 156-169

Abstract: The present research explores how the proportion of sold-out options in the choice set affects consumer purchase choices. Across five experiments, we find an inverted U-shaped relationship between the proportion of sold-out options in a choice set and consumer purchase choices. Fueling this effect are two competing processes: presence of sold-out options signals the overall quality of products in the choice set, which prompts consumers to purchase available options; while it also evokes psychological reactance, which impedes purchases. The quality signaling effect features a concave shape, whereas the psychological reactance force takes on a convex shape, so in combination, these two forces form an inverted U-shaped relationship. In addition, two boundary conditions were identified: (1) this effect is obtained only when psychological reactance is not induced by other situational factors; and (2) this effect disappears when consumers make purchases for others, not when they make purchases for themselves.

Keywords: Sold-out option; Perceived quality; Psychological reactance; Choice deferral (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ijresmar.2021.04.002

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ijrema:v:39:y:2022:i:1:p:156-169