Concerned About Frankensteining

Abstract

Customization often involves consumers choosing multiple product options (e.g., fruits) that are combined to create a single, customized product (e.g., a smoothie). In these situations, consumers decide how many different options to select, i.e., how much variety to choose. While prior literature has examined variety seeking among individual products chosen for sequential consumption (e.g., buying yogurts for a week), this research investigates variety seeking among product options chosen for combined consumption (e.g., choosing yogurts to create a single smoothie). Across seven studies and a wide range of contexts, this research finds that when options are chosen for combined consumption (vs. sequential consumption), consumers seek less variety due to concerns about how the options will go together. When consumers are uncertain whether or not they like the individual options, they seek even less variety under combined consumption. However, the opposite effect occurs under sequential consumption. In line with what prior literature has alluded to, this research finds that, under sequential consumption, uncertainty about the options increases variety seeking. This research offers theoretical and substantive contributions to the literatures on customization, choice, and consumer-created bundles by demonstrating how combined consumption shapes variety seeking.

AUTHORS
Jennifer K. D'Angelo / Kristin Diehl / Lisa A. Cavanaugh