According to Barbara Kahn, a Wharton professor, we are likely to consume more if we believe we are buying an “incomplete” product. Is this you? Read on.

In the Knowledge@Wharton video below, “Kahn talks about how a complete product encourages more consumption: A person is likely to eat two pieces of cheese with holes in them but only one if it is solid, for example. It’s a matter of perception, Kahn explains. She also discusses her research on the attention that consumers pay to large assortments of goods and how it influences their choices when information is presented visually or verbally. In addition, she describes a study on how consumers behave when goods are stacked vertically versus horizontally.”


9 Replies to ““Incomplete” Products Can Spur Customer Consumption”

  1. I think most people often tend to go by the supposed serving size. One meal is equal to any other meal. For example, a person might very well be satisfied by eating either a salad, or a burrito or a burger with fries because they are each considered to be a meal. If it’s a norm to order a side, they would again do that, but if not, even then people feel satisfied because they had a meal. It’s not a very concrete example, much like the one about the cheese in the video I believe, but this is what I have observed to be the norm.

  2. That’s amazing how people seem to be more susceptible to eat two pieces of cheese with holes in them but are reluctant to eat more than one single, whole slice. Perception has a great influence on consumer behavior. I’m not surprised to discover that stacking items horizontally versus vertically leads to different sales numbers. Showing a consumer something one way versus another is necessary to sell something. Painting a picture to the consumer, i.e., showing the product in the best light possible, is essential to spur increased consumer consumption.

  3. This has been a common theme for food companies for a long time. Wether its packaging, how the product it shaped, or how it is presented, producers have always been trying to find a way for consumers to eat more while they are perceiving it as less. This is a good tactic for producers because it means that consumers are using there product quicker and buying more of it. Similar studies have been done with container size and other variables, and it has been found that people tend to eat more when theres no “complete” product for them to have.

  4. I do think this is persuasive fact often ignored by people. It’s reasonable not only for food, but it also can be used for service or other kinds of products. For example, when Apple launched iPad mini, they’ve already got the technology of Retina display. But they still chose to retain this advanced technology to the next generation of iPad mini. The Apple fan who always chase the new product are willing to change only for some new features. As a result, Apple can always earn profit because of new technological features.

  5. While I believe that there is a point with these sorts of product manipulation, I do also believe that there is a vital flaw being forgotten in these sort of ideas. Why would I buy something incomplete if there’s a product that’s sold at a cheaper or even reasonable price that contains the benefits of having two of the former product? The problem with this logic is that the product is potentially changing for the benefit of gaining more sales. Another product could come and fill the gap that the former product has. By leaving a flaw in the product for more sales, the product is almost asking for some other product to fix the flaw. While brand loyalty is real and can potentially work in this scenario, I have a good feeling that brand loyalty will not defeat a product’s potential.

  6. I think this study is very informative and it is interesting to see how the size and shape of a product can influence how much a person consumes. I liked the example she used in comparing when a person eats a whole pretzel and is more aware about how much quantity they are eating as opposed to eating it in smaller pieces. The way we perceive a product based on its appearance is definitely an important factor in the decisions we make as consumers.

  7. I think this article relates to how companies try to have more and more growth. They can either try to gain a lot more customers, or they can attempt to increase the rate of consumption for their products and with the consumers they have. This tactic must be very common as companies only change packaging and sizing instead of trying to come up with a completely new product.

  8. I believe that is the reason for many companies are focused on providing diet food or beverages, people would have the perception that even they are consuming more of these product per day, they can still under their expected calorie consumption for each days, therefore, they tend to purchase more of these kind of product than the regular ones.

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