Visualizing the Self: Exploring the Potential Benefits and Drawbacks for New Product Evaluation
Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 21, pp. 259-267, 2004
Posted: 4 Aug 2011 Last revised: 20 Nov 2012
Date Written: 2004
This study examines the role of visual processing in new product evaluation. The primary goal of this research was to provide insights into the role of visualization content (self-related versus others-related images) in product evaluation as it differentially relates to two separate types of products incremental products and really new products. This study’s results show that for incremental products, visualizing with self-related images (versus others-related images) led to higher evaluations. In this context, it seems that familiarity with the product category from which an incremental product extension is generated enables individuals to produce images easily where they can see themselves using the new product. In some sense, self-related visualization might be thought of as a form of surrogate experience with the new product. The ability to self-reference during evaluation provides positive benefits to the evaluation outcome.
Contrasting this result, this study’s findings showed that for really new product introductions the previously identified benefits of self-visualization were not realized. Confirming this study’s prediction, the advantage of self-visualization over others-related visualization was lost. This is attributed to consumer difficulty in visualizing the full application of a really new product to their current consumption behavior. Of further interest, this study’s results also showed that in the case of really new products others-related visualization facilitated higher evaluations than self-visualization.
The mediating role of visualization-based evaluation difficulty provides further explanation for these findings. Self-related images are shown to be difficult to imagine in a really new product context, whereas imagining others utilizing the really new product is shown to be significantly easier. Perhaps individuals can see the benefits and better understand the novel applications of a really new product when visually simulating someone else using it but have more trouble imagining the applicability of the innovation in their own life. These findings are integrated into a discussion of the managerial implications and the potential avenues for future research in the area.
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