December 4, 2015 3:30pm
Ross School of Business, R2230
Associate Professor of Marketing, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
Abstract: Energy consumption is a growing concern, driving legislation requiring manufacturing of more fuel-efficient cars and more transparent scales to convey fuel-efficiency. However, consumers’ understanding of fuel efficiency and its cost when expressed on different scales is unclear. Expanded scales of fuel use (e.g. over 10,000 miles) lead consumers to perceive greater differences between cars than contracted scales (e.g. fuel use over 1 mile). Katherine Burson and co-authors provide empirical evidence of scale expansion amplifying differences in attribute values using both constant-multiplication and inverse-ratio (e.g., miles per gallon vs. gallons per ten thousand miles) expansions in a conjoint design. Choice of fuel-efficient cars is systematically impacted by these manipulations. Expanded scales also increase attribute importance weights derived from conjoint partworths. However, these realized changes in importance weights cannot be distinguished from changes in consumers’ internal representations of attribute values, and thus should be interpreted with care. Additionally, they show that expansions are moderated due to diminishing sensitivity. The same patterns appear when they examine choices of food. Their findings suggest important implications for both marketing academics as well as policy makers trying to shift choice toward fuel-efficient options.