Managing Consumer Uncertainty in the Adoption of New Products: Temporal Distance and Mental Simulation Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Drawing on theories of new product adoption and intertemporal choice, the authors show in cross-sectional and longitudinal investigations (Study 1) that when adoption is in the distant future, people are more concerned about performance- and symbolic-benefit uncertainties. In contrast, in the near future, the concerns are more about switching- and affective-cost uncertainties. In Studies 2 and 2a, using theories of mental simulation, the authors show that in the distant-future adoption scenario, communication strategies that promote outcome simulations are more effective in reducing performance uncertainty, bolstering positive feelings, and enhancing behavioral intentions. In contrast, in the near-future adoption scenario, communication strategies that promote process simulations are better at reducing switching cost and affective uncertainties, assuaging anxiety, and increasing behavioral intentions. The authors also find positive effects of these communication strategies on actual adoption rates and postconsumption satisfaction (Study 2) and on delayed behavioral intentions (Study 2a). In addition, these communication strategies are more efficacious in increasing behavioral intentions when uncertainty levels are higher (Study 3). The key managerial implications are that communication strategies for new products need to reduce uncertainties about costs and benefits and account for temporal distance to adoption.

publication date

  • June 2008