Marketers take note: new research from Columbia Business School shows that when new products are introduced into the marketplace, they should be positioned as having the ability to increase consumers’ sense of control, rather than being labeled as “new,” in order to increase new product acceptance.
“For years we’ve been led to believe that ‘new is better,’ but it turns out this is not always the case,” said Gita Johar, co-author of the study and the Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. “Consumers today want more control over their lives. Marketers can leverage this desire by steering clear of the words ‘new’ or ‘novel’ and instead reinforcing how first-time market products can improve consumers’ control of their lives.”
According to the research, firms spend billions of dollars every year developing and marketing new products, yet anywhere between 40 to 90 percent of new products across different product categories have failed over the past few decades.
The Research – In Depth
The study, Consumer Desire for Control as a Barrier to New Product Adoption co-authored by Johar, Ali Faraji-Rad of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Shiri Melumad of Columbia Business School, conducts four experiments to show that high desire for control acts as a barrier to new product acceptance. To test this, the researchers varied descriptive words such as “new” vs. “classic” to describe products ranging from toothpaste and potato chip flavors to watches and smoothies. The greater the desire for control, the lower was the acceptance of new products. The relationship between desire for control and acceptance of new products held true through each test. For example, when comparing acceptance for a toothpaste with a “new” vs. “classic” formula, participants with higher desire for control had a lower willingness to consider the new toothpaste formula over the traditional, classic one.
Johar concluded: “Showing consumers that a new product will help them get control over some area of their lives can be an effective launch strategy for new products. This approach can mitigate any uncertainty caused by novelty, and it can be particularly effective in cultures where individuals have higher levels of desire for control.”
To learn more about the cutting-edge research being conducted at Columbia Business School, please visit www.gsb.columbia.edu.
About Columbia Business School
Columbia Business School is the only world-class, Ivy League business school that delivers a learning experience where academic excellence meets with real-time exposure to the pulse of global business. Led by Dean Glenn Hubbard, the School’s transformative curriculum bridges academic theory with unparalleled exposure to real-world business practice, equipping students with an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to recognize, capture, and create opportunity in any business environment. The thought leadership of the School’s faculty and staff members, combined with the accomplishments of its distinguished alumni and position in the center of global business, means that the School’s efforts have an immediate, measurable impact on the forces shaping business every day. To learn more about Columbia Business School’s position at the very center of business, please visit www.gsb.columbia.edu.
About the researcher
Gita V. Johar (PhD NYU 1993; MBA Indian Institute of Management Calcutta 1985) has been on the faculty of Columbia Business School since 1992 and is currently...Read more.