More or Less? Consumer Goal Orientation and Product Choice


We study the impact of consumers’ goal orientation on their preference between high-quality and low-priced products. Consistent with our theorizing, we find that US (Korean) consumers, who are more promotion (prevention) oriented, prefer high-quality (vs. low-priced) products because they assign more weight to quality in their choice. In addition, we identify a boundary condition of the effect by showing that it is mitigated for products for which safety is a salient feature. We also rule out price/quality perceptions, regret, and price-quality association as rival explanations of our results. We conclude by discussing the theoretical and managerial implications of the current research.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    We aimed for 80 participants in each country, but many more were recruited in South Korea due to a clerical error. The resultant imbalance in the study design may reduce the statistical power of detecting the proposed effect, thus providing a conservative test of our predictions.


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Correspondence to Haipeng (Allan) Chen.

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Appendix A: Stimuli and Measures for Study 1

(The stimuli and measures below were presented to the participants in the USA. They were translated into Korean for participants in South Korea. Prices were converted at an exchange rate of $1= 1,199).

Product Choice

Which tablet would you purchase? _ Product A _ Product B

Weight on Price and Quality

How much attention did you pay to price and quality, respectively, in determining your product preference on the previous page?

Price (1 = very little; 7 = a lot)

Quality (1 = very little; 7 = a lot)

Price and Quality Perceptions (1 = low; 7 = high)

Please answer the following questions.

The quality of Product A is

The price of Product A is

The quality of Product B is

The price of Product B is

Regret (1 = not at all; 7 = very much)

Please answer the following questions.

I should have chosen differently.

I regret the product choice I made.

I now realize how much better the other choice is.

If I were to go back in time, I would choose something different to buy.

Price-Quality Association (1 = not at all; 7 = very much)

Please answer the following questions.

Generally speaking, the higher the price of a tablet, the higher the quality.

Fig. 2

Stimuli for Study 1

The old saying “you get what you pay for” is generally true for a tablet.

The price of a tablet is a good indicator of its quality.

You always have to pay a bit more for the best tablet.

Perceived Differences in Price and Quality (1 = strongly disagree; 4 = neutral; 7 = strongly agree)

Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements.

The prices of two tablets are different.

The quality of two tablets are different.

Goal Orientation Measures (from [22]) (1 = never or seldom; 7 = very often)

Please answer the following questions.

  1. 1.

    Compared to most people, are you typically unable to get what you want out of life? (r)

  2. 2.

    Growing up, would you ever “cross the line” by doing things that your parents would not tolerate? (r)

  3. 3.

    How often have you accomplished things that got you “psyched” to work even harder?

  4. 4.

    Did you get on your parents’ nerves often when you were growing up? (r)

  5. 5.

    How often did you obey rules and regulations that were established by your parents?

  6. 6.

    Growing up, did you ever act in ways that your parents thought were objectionable? (r)

  7. 7.

    Do you often do well at different things that you try?

  8. 8.

    Not being careful enough has gotten me into trouble at times. (r)

  9. 9.

    . When it comes to achieving things that are important to me, I find that I don’t perform as well as I ideally would like to do. (r)

  10. 10.

    I feel like I have made progress toward being successful in my life.

  11. 11.

    I have found very few hobbies or activities in my life that capture my interest or motivate me to put effort into. (r)

(r – reversed coded; items 1, 3, 7, 9, 10 and 11 measure promotion orientation; items 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 measure prevention orientation)

Appendix B: Stimuli and Measures in Study 2

Manipulation check of safety in the pretest

For this product, safety is really important (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree)

The goal orientation manipulation

Promotion orientation condition

Among the courses offered this semester, one course is especially important to you. What academic strategies or methods are you using in studying for this course in order to get positive outcomes (e.g., getting a good grade)?

Prevention orientation condition

Among the courses offered this semester, one course is especially important to you. What academic strategies or methods are you using in studying for this course in order to avoid negative outcomes (e.g., failing the course)?

Control condition

As the semester is near its end, please carefully recall the courses you’ve taken. Among those courses, there may some that you really liked and some that you really hated. Please list the courses from the liked to hated (list at least 4 courses).

Fig. 3

Products in Study 2 (with product name, price, and quality underneath each picture)

Goal Orientation Manipulation Check

When you were writing down your academic strategies, to what extent were you focused on getting positive outcomes? (1 = Not at all; 7 = a lot)When you were writing down your academic strategies, to what extent were you focused on avoiding negative outcomes? (1 = Not at all; 7 = a lot)

Purchase intention

1 = I’m more willing to buy product A; 7 = I’m more willing to buy Product B

Weights on product quality and price

When purchasing the above product, I’m focused more on product quality (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree)When purchasing the above product, I’m focused more on product price (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree)

Price and quality perceptions

Product A’s price is very high (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree)Product A’s quality is very high (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree)Product B’s price is very high (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree)Product B’s quality is very high (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree)


I may regret it after I make this purchase (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree)

Price-quality association

High price means high quality (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree)(Original stimuli in Chinese. English translation provided for illustration.)

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Chen, H.(., Choi, W., Liu, Y.(. et al. More or Less? Consumer Goal Orientation and Product Choice. Cust. Need. and Solut. (2021).

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  • Price quality tradeoff
  • Goal orientation
  • Regulatory focus
  • Promotion
  • Prevention