VU Symposium On Consumer Research


08:45 - 17:30

Campus Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Main Building: Agora 3, 3rd Floor, C-wing (HG-03C03)

VU Symposium On Consumer Research

Vanessa Patrick, Joachim Vosgerau, Michel Tuan Pham, Ana Valenzuela, Aylin Aydinli

Amsterdam Business Research Institute

Business and Organisation

Conference / Symposium

VU Symposium on Consumer Research is sponsored by the School of Business and Economics of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and ABRI. It will be held at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, June 19, 2018, and is organized by Aylin Aydinli, Femke Van Horen, & Peeter Verlegh.


8.45-9.15Registration and coffee/tea
9.30-10.30VANESSA PATRICK, University of Houston
Minimalist vs. Maximalist: When and How Differences in Design Styles Influence Consumer Self-Brand Connection
10.30-11.30JOACHIM VOSGERAU, Bocconi University
Regret — Not Choice of a Vice — Characterizes Self-Control Failures
MICHEL TUAN PHAM, Columbia University
The Pleasure of Liking (or Disliking)
14.30-15.30ANA VALENZUELA, Baruch College, CUNY ESADE Business School
Good Vibrations: Consumer Responses to Technology-Mediated Haptic Feedback
AYLIN AYDINLI, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
When Discounting Backfires: Promotional Favors and Consumer Spending

 Speakers and abstracts

Vanessa Patrick
Bauer Professor of Marketing, Bauer College of Business, University of Houston
“Minimalist vs. Maximalist: When and How Differences in Design Styles Influence Consumer Self-Brand Connection”

Consumers can choose from different design styles –minimalist and maximalist - that coexist in virtually every product category in the marketplace. Drawing on the theory of functional attitudes, the current research seeks to explain which consumers are drawn to what design style and why. Although visually distinct, we demonstrate that both minimalist (simple and clean) and maximalist (ornate and decorative) design styles can influence consumer self-brand connection, but for different people (high versus low power individuals) in different ways (via valueexpressive versus social-adjustive attitudes). Five studies show that (1) minimalist (maximalist) design enhances self-brand connection for high-power (low-power) consumers and (2) this effect hinges on the different social motivations that distinguish high power from low power consumers. Specifically, high power (low power) consumers feel stronger self-brand connection towards minimalist (maximalist) design because of the value-expressive (social-adjustive) function it serves, even though consumers find both design styles as equally familiar, evaluate them equally favorably, and find both luxurious and aesthetically pleasing. The theoretical and practical implications of this insight are discussed and directions for future research in this domain of investigation are outlined.

Joachim Vosgerau
Professor of Marketing, Bocconi University
“Regret — Not Choice of a Vice — Characterizes Self-Control Failures”

In the consumer behavior literature, self-control conflicts are often operationalized as choices between vice and virtue foods. Vices—for example chocolate—are hedonic foods whose consumption is tempting and immediately gratifying but bad for one’s well-being in the long run. Virtues—for example fruit—are utilitarian foods  hose consumption is little appealing in the moment but good for one’s health in the long run. Choosing the vice from a vice-virtue choice set is interpreted as a  breakdown in self-control. We argue that this definition mischaracterizes self-control conflicts and severely limits the applicability of selfcontrol theories, because it assumes a tradeoff between tastiness and healthiness, associates hedonic consumption with breakdowns in self-control, and does not allow for measuring the severity of self-control failures on the individual level. We suggest to abandon the a-priori categorization of foods into vices and virtues, and to define self-control failures by the anticipated regret of violating one’s long-term goals. We show that this definition accurately characterizes self-control conflicts irrespective of the conflicting short- and long-term goals involved (e.g., whether a consumer believes tastiness and healthiness to be negatively correlated or not). We discuss theoretical and methodological implications for researchers, and advise consumers on how to enhance self-control.

Michel Tuan Pham
Kravis Professor of Business, Columbia University
“The Pleasure of Liking (or Disliking)”

Although consumer-behavior theory has traditionally regarded evaluations as instrumental to consumer choice, in reality consumers frequently evaluate what they like and dislike even when there is no decision at stake. Why are consumers so eager to evaluate things when there is no ostensible purpose for doing so? In this research, we advance the thesis that this is because consumers derive an inherent pleasure from preference evaluation. In support of this thesis, we report eight studies (and three replications) showing that compared to a variety of simple control judgments, evaluating one’s likes and dislikes results in greater task enjoyment. Our results additionally show that at least two complementary processes contribute to the overall pleasure of evaluation. Preference evaluation generates a sense of self-expression, which appears to be deep and global, and a sense of self-discovery. Implications for firms and policymakers are discussed.

Ana Valenzuela
Professor of Marketing, Baruch College, CUNY and ESADE Business School
“Good Vibrations: Consumer Responses to Technology-Mediated Haptic Feedback”

Individuals often experience incidental device-delivered haptic feedback (e.g., vibrational alerts accompanying messages on mobile phones and wearables), yet almost no research has examined the psychological and behavioral implications of this technology-mediated touch on users. Drawing from theories in social psychology, computer science, and communications, we begin to address this gap by exploring how device-delivered haptic feedback can influence consumer responses. Across four studies, we find that haptic alerts accompanying messages can improve consumer performance on related tasks and demonstrate that this effect is driven by an increased sense of “social presence” in what can otherwise feel like an impersonal technological exchange. These findings provide applied value for mobile marketers and gadget designers, and carry important implications for consumer compliance in health and fitness domains.

Aylin Aydinli
Assistant Professor of Marketing, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
“When Discounting Backfires: Promotional Favors and Consumer Spending”

Promotional favors are an increasingly popular but seldom researched form of price promotion, where the receipt of the saving depends on an action by consumers that is unrelated to the content of the purchase—such as completing a questionnaire, making a referral, or transacting online. This paper is the first to show that the tactic can backfire, in the sense that consumers exposed to a promotional favor choose cheaper or fewer options—they spend less—than they do in response to a standard discount. We document this effect across five experiments. Study 1 is a field experiment conducted at a large European supermarket chain. Studies 2 to 5 replicate the result in more controlled settings, trace it to a process of psychological reactance, and address the alternative that promotional favors are simply less appealing. Finally, we relate our work to three literatures in marketing research and offer practical advice to businesses.