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Unexpected-Framing Effect: Impact of Framing a Product Benefit as Unexpected on Product Desire

Monica Wadhwa, Jeehye Christine Kim, Amitava Chattopadhyay, Wenbo Wang, Vicki G Morwitz, Linda L Price and Chris Janiszewski

Journal of Consumer Research, 2019, vol. 46, issue 2, 223-245

Abstract: Product tests are a common feature before any product launch. During product tests, marketers might discover that the product can deliver additional unintended benefits to the users. Should marketers communicate such unexpectedly found benefits to their potential customers as an unexpectedly discovered benefit or as an intended benefit? Across six experiments, including a field experiment, the current research shows that framing a product benefit as unexpected increases desire for the product, when consumers have a heightened motivation to seek rewards. However, framing an undesirable product feature (e.g., a side effect) as unexpected can negatively impact product desirability for consumers, who have a heightened motivation to avoid losses. Finally, highlighting another managerially important boundary condition, our findings show that the unexpected-framing effect is attenuated when the benefit framed as unexpected is incongruent with the product category. Theoretical and managerial implications of unexpected framing are discussed.

Keywords: unexpected; product benefits; reward motivation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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