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Why 'one year' and '365 days' leave different impressions on consumers

Washington, Wed, 15 Feb 2012 ANI

Washington, Feb 15 (ANI): Most consumers tend to prefer more precise or "granular" information to larger units, if they come from a reliable source, a new study has revealed.


According to the study, consumers' perception of the precision and reliability of quantitative product information looms large in their decision-making.


In one study, participants chose between GPS units: one was described as lasting "up to two hours" and another, which was heavier and more expensive, "up to three hours."


"When the units' battery life was described in hours, only 26 percent picked the 'up to two hours' unit-they were concerned it might run out of power prematurely," said authors Y. Charles Zhang and Norbert Schwarz (both University of Michigan).


"But when the battery was described as 'up to 120 minutes,' more than twice as many consumers (57 percent) were happy to pick the same unit."


The observation has important implications for how consumers interpret quantitative information.


"Consumers perceive products as more likely to deliver on their promises when the promise is described in fine-grained rather than coarse terms and choose accordingly," the authors said.


For example, "one year" and "12 months" refer to the same amount of time, but leave different impressions.


The granularity effect is only effective when consumers perceive the speaker to be competent and trustworthy. If they don't, the speaker's choice of words has no influence on consumer estimates.


These findings highlight that the choice of unit needs careful consideration in product descriptions and marketing communications.


"A trustworthy and cooperative communicator should be as precise as possible but not more precise than warranted," the authors concluded.


The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)


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