Research Archive

When Shopper Marketing Backfires

Leonard Lee, Ziv Carmon, Ravi Dhar, Ayelet Fishbach

Publication type: Working paper

Research Archive Topic: Marketing


Retailers use an arsenal of shopper-marketing tools to entice shoppers to spend. We examine the possibility that such shopping prompts can backfire. Specifically, we demonstrate that in many common retail situations, shopping prompts can decrease rather than increase spending by prompting shoppers to exercise greater self-control to counter the temptation to spend. The results of two field experiments (1 ? 2) consistently demonstrate this ironic prudent-spending effect. Supporting the self-control account, we also find that the effect is more pronounced (i) among shoppers who perceive themselves as impulsive and thus benefit more from cues to exercise self-control that shopping prompts pose; and (ii) for hedonic (vs. utilitarian) items that pose greater temptation. Two lab experiments (3 ? 4) further show that shopping prompts increase the subjective importance of the prudent-spending goal while reducing how appealing consumers perceive hedonic (vs. utilitarian) products to be, providing convergent process evidence for the proposed self-control mechanism.
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Lee, Leonard, Ziv Carmon, Ravi Dhar, and Ayelet Fishbach. "When Shopper Marketing Backfires." Columbia Business School, 2013.

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