How people judge quality of product by price if someone else buys it

April 20th, 2011 - 6:31 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr 20 (ANI): A new study has shown that people are more likely to judge the quality of a product by its price if someone else bought it.

But when it come to buying the product themselves, they are more likely to judge quality by the product’s attributes.

Study authors Dengfeng Yan and Jaideep Sengupta, both Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, gave the following example.

“Consider the following scenario: you observe that a friend has bought a well-designed attractive handbag for a surprisingly low price. What inference would you draw regarding the quality of that bag?,” they wrote.

According to the authors, you’d be more likely to believe the bag was of low quality because of its low price-more so than if you’d bought it yourself.

The researchers found that the way people assess quality based on price or attributes has to do with distance-both temporal and psychological.

In a series of studies, the authors asked participants to predict the quality of different products (like yoghurt and laptop computers) on the basis of price and attribute information.

They were asked to imagine that they made the purchase or someone else did.

Results consistently showed that the influence of price was greater when judgments were made on the basis of someone else’s (rather than one’s own) purchase, whereas the reverse was true regarding the product’s attributes.

People tend to rely on more abstract thinking to form their judgments when events are psychologically removed, the authors explain, for example when it has to do with other people or with a distant future.

The authors speculate that thinking about price is more abstract than thinking about attributes.

“In one such study, participants were asked to imagine making a computer purchase either the next day or two months later,” the authors wrote.

“In support of our arguments, price had a weaker impact when participants imagined the purchase was for the next day.

“Our findings have clear implications for retailers and salespeople who are seeking to influence quality perceptions.

“If marketers wish to signal high quality through high price (a strategy that has long been in use), they should try to increase the psychological distance between the consumer and the product,” they concluded.

The new study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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