Advertisement

Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 389–402 | Cite as

Material Distortion of Economic Behaviour and Everyday Decision Quality

  • Kerstin Gidlöf
  • Annika Wallin
  • Kenneth Holmqvist
  • Peter Møgelvang-Hansen
Original Paper

Abstract

Misleading information and unfair commercial practices have to be viewed against the background of what consumers otherwise do, i.e., what their purchase decisions look like when no misleading information or no unfair commercial practices are in place. This article provides some of this background by studying how consumers sample information when making an in-store purchase decision. This was done by an eye-tracking study which reveals to what extent consumers succeed in purchasing the products that best meet their purchase intentions when only a representative amount of misleading information is present. The study shows that decisions were suboptimal in relation to what the consumers claimed they wanted to purchase. Only in one product category did consumers in this study actually look at products that were slightly better than average, and as a result, they mainly selected products that were just as often poor as good. If the proportion of bad purchase decisions based on misleading information is small enough, perhaps it might be better to direct the authors’ attention to other ways of improving the decision environments that consumers encounter. In addition, the eye-tracking study provides some insight into how consumers sample information when making an in-store purchase decision. The present data show that consumers invested on average of less than 1 s to look at products.

Keywords

Consumer behaviour Consumer decision making Unfair commercial practices directive Information search Decision quality 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research is part of the cross-disciplinary project “Spin or fair speak—when foods talk” funded by the Programme Committee on Health, Food, and Welfare under the Danish Council for Strategic Research (Grant No. 09-061379/DSF). The project is carried out as a collaboration between the FairSpeak Group, Copenhagen Business School, and researchers from The Humanities Lab and Cognitive Science, Lund University (Sweden). See www.fairspeak.org.

References

  1. Bar-Gill, O. (2012). Seduction by contract. law, economics and psycholgy in consumer markets. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bar-Gill, O., & Ben-Shahar, O. (2013). Regulatory techniques in consumer protection: A critique of the Common European Sales Law. Common Market Law Review (in press).Google Scholar
  3. Ben-Shahar, O., & Schneider, C. E. (2011). The failure of mandated disclosure. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 647, 101–204.Google Scholar
  4. Chernev, A. (2003). When more is less and less is more: The role of ideal point availability and assortment in consumer choice. Journal of Consumer Research, 30, 170–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chernev, A., Böckenholt, U., & Goodman, J. (2010). Commentary on Scheibehenne, Grefeneder and Todd. Choice overload: Is there anything to it? Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 426–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clement, J. (2007). Visual influence on in-store buying decisions: An eye-track experiment on the visual influence on packaging design. Journal of Marketing Management, 23, 917–928.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Broniarczyk, S. M., Hoyer, W. D., & McAlister, L. (1998). Consumers’ perceptions of the assortment offered in a grocery category: The impact of item reduction. Journal of Marketing Research, 35, 166–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dickson, P. R., & Sawyer, A. G. (1990). The price knowledge and search of supermarket shoppers. Journal of Marketing, 54, 42–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. European Parliament and Council. (2005). Council Directive 2005/29/EC of 11 May 2005 on unfair business to consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No. 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Luxembourg: European Council.Google Scholar
  10. Holmqvist, K., Nyström, M., Andersson, R., Dewhurst, D., Jarodzska, H., & van de Weijer, J. (2011). Eye tracking: A comprehensive guide to methods and measures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Howells, G. G., Micklitz, H.-W., & Wilhelmsson, T. (2006). European fair trading law, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, Aldershot, England. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Pub. Company.Google Scholar
  12. Hoyer, W. D. (1984). An examination of consumer decision making for a common repeat purchase product. Journal of Consumer Research, 11, 822–829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Incardona, R., & Poncibò, C. (2007). The average consumer, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, and the cognitive revolution. Journal of Consumer Policy, 30, 21–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Iyengar, S. S., Jiang, W., & Huberman, G. (2004). How much choice is too much? Contributions to 401(k) retirement plans. In O. S. Mitchell & S. Utkus (Eds.), Pension design and structure: New lessons from behavioural finance (pp. 83–95). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Iyengar, S. S., & Lepper, M. R. (2000). When choice is demotivating: Can one desire too much of a good thing? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 995–1006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jacoby, J., Chestnut, R. W., & Fisher, W. A. (1978). A behavioural process approach to information acquisition in nondurable purchasing. Journal of Marketing Research, 15, 532–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jacoby, J., Speller, D. E., & Kohn Berning, C. (1974). Brand choice behaviour as a function of information load: Replication and extension. Journal of Consumer Research, 1, 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Keeney, R., & Raiffa, H. (1993). Decision with multiple objectives, preferences and value tradeoffs. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Mogilner, C., Tamar, R., & Iyengar, S. (2008). The mere categorization effect: How the presence of categories increase choosers’ perceptions of assortment variety and outcome satisfactions. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(2), 202–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Malhotra, N. K. (1982). Information load and consumer decision making. Journal of Consumer Research, 8, 419–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Micklitz, H.-W., Reich, N., & Rott, P. (2009). Understanding EU Consumer Law. Antwerp: Intersentia.Google Scholar
  22. Møgelvang-Hansen, P. (2010). Misleading presentation of food. Methods of legal regulation and real-life case scenarios. In H.-W. Micklitz, V. Smith, & M. Ohm Rørdam (Eds.), New challenges for the assessment of fairness in a common market (pp. 49–59). Florence: European University Institute.Google Scholar
  23. Payne, J. W., Bettman, J. R., & Johnson, E. J. (1993). The adaptive decision maker. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Ramsey, F. P. (1926). Truth and probability. In: Ramsey, F. P. & D. H. Mellor (Eds.). Philosophical Papers (pp. 52–109). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Reutskaja, E., & Hogarth, R. M. (2005). Satisfaction in choice as a function of the number of alternatives: When “goods satiate.” Psychology and Marketing, 26, 197–203.Google Scholar
  26. Reich, N. (2008). Crisis and Future of Consumer Law. In: D. Parry, A. Nordhausen, G. Howells, and C. Twigg-Flesner (Eds.) Yearbook of Consumer Law 2009 (pp. 3–68). Burlington: Ashgate Pub. Company.Google Scholar
  27. Schwartz, B. (2004). The paradox of choice—Why more is less. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  28. Shah, A. M., & Wolford, G. (2007). Buying behaviour as a function of parametric variation of number of choices. Psychological Science, 18, 369–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Scheibehenne, B., Greifeneder, R., & Todd, P. M. (2010). Can there ever be too many options? A meta-analytic review of choice overload. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(3), 409–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Simon, H. A. (1955). A behavioural model of rational choice. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 59, 99–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Smith, V., Clement, J., Møgelvang-Hansen, P., & Selsøe Sørensen, H. (2011). Assessing in-store food-to-consumer communication from a fairness perspective: An integrated approach. Fachsprache-International Journal of Specialized Communication, 1(2), 84–106.Google Scholar
  32. Selsøe Sørensen, H., Holm, L., Møgelvang-Hansen, P., Barratt, D., Qvistgaard, F., & Smith, V. (2013). Consumer understanding of food labels: Toward a general tool for identifying the average consumer. The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research.Google Scholar
  33. Trzaskowski, J. (2011). Behavioural economics, neuroscience and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. Journal of Consumer Policy, 34, 377–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerstin Gidlöf
    • 1
  • Annika Wallin
    • 1
  • Kenneth Holmqvist
    • 1
  • Peter Møgelvang-Hansen
    • 2
  1. 1.Lund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Copenhagen Business SchoolCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations