The Same, But Different

Research uncovers what motivates customers to choose one product over another

Written by Frank Condron

Getting product assortments right is essential for retailers, and understanding what motivates consumers to choose one product over another is an essential part of that process. A recent study published in the “Journal of Consumer Research” found that when choosing products, consumers seek to find a balance between their desire to identify with certain groups while maintaining their sense of individuality. Authors Cindy Chan and Johan Berger of the University of Pennsylvania and Leaf Van Boven of the University of Colorado Boulder, conducted field and laboratory studies to demonstrate the tension that exists between the consumer’s simultaneous desire to “fit in” and “stand out.” the researchers found that individuals concerned with fitting in tend to choose brands representative of their chosen group, but still seek to differentiate themselves within the group through different colours or styles of the preferred brand. On the other hand, individuals not concerned with fitting in with a particular group tend to choose less popular brands and products.

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