Anxiety about a new product makes people more likely to buy it, according to research

Anxiety about buying a new product, when combined with hope, increases the chances of people buying that item, reveals new research from Imperial College Business School.

In the paper, Strong Anxiety Boosts New Product Adoption When Hope Is Also Strong, published in the Journal of Marketing, authors Dr Yu-Ting Lin and Professor Andreas Eisingerich, reveal that people who experience strong anxiety about purchasing a new product but who desire its potential results to fit their goals or expectations, are more likely to buy that product than people who are less emotionally invested in the outcome.

According to the researchers, the anxiety people face when weighing up the future outcomes of buying something new (e.g. a new skin care product potentially causing skin irritation), when met with hopefulness about the product’s results (e.g. clearer skin from the new skin product), makes the consumer more likely to make more informed decisions.  

Through planning their approach to using the new product, such as reading the instructions, asking a friend if they have tried it, looking up the product’s ingredients and potential side effects, the consumer feels more in control over the outcomes the product might provide, making them more likely to buy the item.

In undertaking this research, the academics oversaw three studies to test the impact of both strong anxiety and strong hope on customers’ decisions to purchase an item. The studies spanned numerous countries and focussed on people’s adoption of a new medication, skincare product and an energy drink. In choosing these three different products, the research also spanned numerous consumer demographics.

Dr Yu-Ting Lin, Teaching and Research Associate in Marketing at Imperial College Business School, says:

“If market research reveals that consumers have strong anxiety about outcomes from new product adoption, our research informs current practice that rather than downplaying anxiety, marketing communications might position the product or service offering around strong hope i.e., important, desirable outcomes from the new product are possible.”

Andreas Eisingerich, Professor of Marketing at Imperial College Business School, says:

“The current findings provide a unique perspective, revealing that ‘action planning’ can actually enhance new product adoption by increasing consumers’ perceptions of control, overcoming negative perceptions of products that could deter the individual from purchasing said item.”

Link to paper: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022242920934495

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