Inaction Traps in Consumer Response to Product Malfunctions

2017-03-15

Speaker£ºProf.Gerald Häubl (Professor of Marketing at the School of Business, University of Alberta)

Time£º14:00-16:00 March 30,2017(Thursday)

Site£ºB226

Abstract: We develop and test a theory of consumer inaction traps in the domain of decisions to either address or endure product malfunctions. According to this theory, the magnitude of product malfunctions can have a paradoxical effect on consumption experience. In particular, the smaller a product malfunction is, the more inclined are consumers to defer the initial decision about whether to take corrective action. While opportunities for corrective action persist, these are devalued relative to previously foregone opportunities. This dynamic tends to trap consumers in a state of inaction, resulting in their enduring smaller malfunctions longer than larger ones. An ironic consequence of these inaction traps is that minor product malfunctions may result in less enjoyable overall consumption experiences than much more severe defects. evidence from four experiments provides support for this theorizing by demonstrating the inaction trap phenomenon, shedding light on the underlying dynamics of inaction, ruling out several potential alternative accounts, and identifying boundary conditions that suggest interventions for counteracting consumers’ vulnerability to suffering disproportionately from relatively minor product malfunctions.