When deciding whether to adopt an innovative product, consumers often experience different levels of anxiety that prompt them to resist purchase. In some cases, consumers’ anxiety is mitigated by “validation” through externality (e.g., the number of early adopters). To reduce consumers’ anxiety, firms can also invest in “familiarization” through promotion (e.g., free trials). In this chapter, we conceptualize an innovative product as a product that engenders anxiety, and present a model that employs a consumer utility model focusing on the psychological dimension. We examine the firm’s profit-maximizing promotion and pricing decisions when selling to forward-looking consumers in the presence of externality. Our equilibrium analysis reveals that, unlike the conventional wisdom for promoting new version of an existing product, for anxiety-inducing innovations with externality, accelerating the speed of adoption through promotion can actually be detrimental to the firm.
- Innovative product introduction
- Adoption anxiety
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The subjective component of utility is different from models of bounded rationality, which considers consumers with cognitive limitations or psychological biases. We do not assume that consumers use simple heuristics to make complex decisions, or display certain intrinsic psychological tendencies. See Ren and Huang (2018) for a recent review of modeling bounded rationality in operations management.
These objective functional benefits are essentially the additional willingness to pay over comparable traditional products. This additional valuation can be measured via lab experiments and it is well examined by consumer behavior researchers (Sheth et al. 1991; Dahl and Moreau 2002; Mukherjee and Hoyer 2001).
Our model is easily generalizable to the case where the x i is uniformly distributed over [0, R] for any R.
We treat K and α as parameters for ease of analysis, but α, in principle, can be a function of K. Specifically, because our focus is on the pricing decisions, we shall consider the case when K and α are exogenously given to simplify our analysis. However, if investment K is the focused decision, then one needs to model K as a function of α, and the functional form and the associated value can be estimated through lab experiments. We shall relegate this issue to a future research topic.
It can also be adjusted upward if D 1 < β, i.e., if there are few early adopters, then it can actually raise the anxiety levels for the remaining consumers. This characterization is consistent with the notion that consumers are more (less) willing to enter a restaurant when it is full (empty).
These thresholds will be determined endogenously as we determine the equilibrium purchasing strategy.
When K = 0, the two regions will be delineated by a curve resembling a horizontal line around β = 0.2. The detrimental effect of familiarization when β is low holds even when α is a decreasing function of K.
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Huang, Y., Gokpinar, B., Tang, C.S., Yoo, O.S. (2020). Selling Innovative Products to Anxious Consumers. In: Ray, S., Yin, S. (eds) Channel Strategies and Marketing Mix in a Connected World. Springer Series in Supply Chain Management, vol 9. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-31733-1_2
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