The Impact of the Prechoice Process on Product Returns

August 2005
Journal of Marketing Research (JMR);Aug2005, Vol. 42 Issue 3, p358
Academic Journal
This article introduces a framework to help researchers understand the mechanisms underlying product returns. The framework draws on research in consumer choice, consumer memory, and attitude stability to predict how the process that consumers go through at a predecisional stage affects their postpurchase behavior. The likelihood of product returns is considered contingent on the amount and nature of cognitive responses generated during the choice process. In Study 1, the authors focus on the impact of the nature of cognitive responses and show that the generation of responses of a different nature while choosing directly affects the likelihood of choice reversal. The comparative versus noncomparative nature of thoughts generated influences their diagnosticity and, accordingly, their impact on product returns when consumers are exposed to disconfirming information. In Study 2, the authors draw on the inoculation theory to manipulate the number of prechoice thoughts. They find that when faced with disconfirming information favoring a new brand, inoculated consumers who are presented with choice alternatives sequentially are less likely to return a brand than consumers who are exposed solely to positive information about the chosen brand at a prepurchase stage.


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