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Analogies and mental simulations in learning for really new products: The role of visual attention

Feiereisen, S., Wong, V. & Broderick, A.J. (2008). Analogies and mental simulations in learning for really new products: The role of visual attention. The Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 25(6), pp. 593-607. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2008.00324.x


Really new products (RNPs) create new product categories or at least significantly expand existing ones. The development of RNPs is a strategic priority for most companies. However, 40% to 90% of new products fail, often due to consumers' lack of understanding of product features and benefits. Learning strategies, such as analogical learning and mental simulation, can help consumers understand the benefits of RNPs and thus may contribute to the successful development of marketing campaigns. Moreover, the presentation format of marketing communications is likely to influence consumers' understanding of the product. Pictorials have the potential to convey novel information without overloading the decision maker and thus may be a more efficient way to present information about RNPs than words. This paper contributes to a better understanding of consumer information processing in learning for RNPs. Study 1 examined the impact of (1) learning strategies (analogical learning vs. mental simulation) and (2) presentation formats (words vs. pictures) on product comprehension. Study 2 used an eye-tracking experiment to assess how respondents' visual attention patterns may affect product comprehension. Study 1 showed that the use of words in marketing communications for RNPs is generally more effective to enhance product comprehension than the use of pictorials. However, the video glasses were a notable exception as the combination of mental simulation and pictures yielded a high comprehension level for this product. This suggests that the use of pictorials may be appropriate to convey information for products of a more hedonic as opposed to utilitarian nature. Study 2 used a combination of eye-tracking measures and self-reports to help illuminate the cognitive processes at work when consumers learn new product information. The results suggest that an increase in attention to an element of the advert can account for one of two underlying processes: (1) an increase in comprehension; or (2) a difficulty to understand product information which may result in consumer confusion. This study adds evidence to a growing body of literature that demonstrates the power of learning strategies such as mental simulation and analogical learning in preparing consumers for new product acceptance. The use of visual stimuli contributes to the debate on the effectiveness of words versus pictures, seldom applied in a new product development (NPD) context. These findings are integrated into a discussion of the managerial implications and the potential avenues for future research in the area.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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