Do life events always lead to change in purchase? The mediating role of change in consumer innovativeness, the variety seeking tendency, and price consciousness

  • Nicole Koschate-Fischer
  • Wayne D. Hoyer
  • Nicola E. Stokburger-Sauer
  • Jan Engling
Original Empirical Research


Consumers can experience major life events (e.g., the birth of a child or retirement) that have key strategic managerial implications for firms in terms of creating new market segments as well as preventing defection from existing brands. Therefore, in the context of a consumer-based strategy, this study investigates whether life events change actual purchase behavior as well as how three important and managerially actionable consumer difference variables (consumer innovativeness, the variety seeking tendency, and price consciousness) mediate this link. Purchase records of an individual-level consumer panel, combined with demographic and survey data over a three-year period, indicate that there is a direct link between life events and changes in share of wallet (SOW) and share of units (SOU) for the preferred brand in a product category. Further, experiencing a life event leads to an increase in consumer innovativeness that, in turn, decreases SOW/SOU for the preferred brand for some purchases, while at the same time leading to a decrease in consumers’ variety seeking tendency and price consciousness for others that, in turn, lead to an increase in SOW/SOU. These findings suggest a paradox of change that can both enhance and inhibit purchasing new brands. Finally, the effects of first-time life events (i.e., significant markers in the course of life that occur for the first time) are stronger than the effects of repeated life events, and life events with a positive economic impact have a strong negative effect on change in price consciousness.


Life events Consumer innovativeness Variety seeking tendency Price consciousness 



The authors thank GfK, especially Wolfgang Twardawa, Raimund Wildner, and Thomas Bachl, for providing support in acquiring the data. They also thank JB Steenkamp, S. Ratneshwar, and the JAMS review team for helpful comments on previous drafts of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GfK-Chair of Marketing IntelligenceUniversity of Erlangen-NurembergNurembergGermany
  2. 2.James L. Bayless/William S. Farish Fund Chair for Free Enterprise, McCombs School of BusinessUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.Department of Strategic Management, Marketing, and TourismUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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