Research & Publications
It’s the Thought (and the Effort) That Counts: How Customizing for Others Differs from Customizing for Oneself
2011, Journal of Marketing
Leff Bonney, C. Page Moreau, Kelly B. Herd
While interest in customization is growing among consumers and academics, researchers have focused on consumers designing products for themselves. Many customization firms, however, are successfully positioning themselves as key sources for unique gifts. In this research, the authors examine whether factors under the firm’s control (i.e., the level of design support provided and the presence of a strong brand) are differentially effective when consumers design products for themselves or as gifts for others. Using participants drawn from the relevant target market, they report two studies involving real customization tasks undertaken on fully functioning customization websites. The findings lead to the surprising conclusion that design support is less effective for consumers designing products intended as gifts rather than for themselves, raising expectations without a corresponding rise in evaluations. However, the results offer some good news to firms targeting gift-giving consumers. Both Studies 1 and 2 reveal that gift-givers place a higher value on their own time and effort and thus report a higher willingness to pay than those designing for themselves. This effect is diminished, however, when a strong brand is present and consumers thus share credit with the brand for the product’s design.
Bonney, Leff, C. Page Moreau, and Kelly B. Herd (2011), “It’s the Thought (and the Effort) That Counts: How Customizing for Others Differs from Customizing for Oneself," Journal of Marketing, Vol. 75, No. 5, September, pp. 120-133.