In Articles, Work in progress

The benefits of customization are not always self-evident to consumers who seek to minimize decision costs or are generally uncertain of what they really want. We argue that the mere posting of a starting price can increase a consumer’s readiness to appreciate customized goods. We discuss this phenomenon in the context of a simple model of reference-dependent preferences and propose four experiments to support our predictions. In experiment 1 and 2, we show that announcing a starting price accentuates consumer sensitivity to the match quality and relevance of customization, respectively, enhancing purchase intent and perceived product value to the extent that these qualities are present. Experiment 3 reveals that the effect of starting prices implicates the judgments of novices more so than those of experts. In experiment 4, we revert the effect and demonstrate that consumers who seek conformism and avoid personalization will be more likely to reject customized products when exposed to a starting price.