Research Highlights - October/November 2020

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How can you use the findings from the latest research studies to improve your performance and the performance of your organization? We’ll provide the highlights and key ideas you won’t get anywhere else.

Marketing researchers from Boston University, Rutgers University, Cornell University, the University of Washington, and the University of Pennsylvania asked, “What happens to consumers and markets when nothing feels like it’s MINE?”  As the researchers observe, technological innovations such as digitization, platform markets, and the exponential expansion of the generation and collection of personal data are driving an evolution in consumption along two major dimensions.

  • The first dimension is from a model of legal ownership, where consumers purchase and consume their own private goods, to a model of legal access, in which consumers purchase temporary access rights to goods and services owned and used by others.
  • The second dimension is from consuming solid material goods to consuming “liquid” experiential

The benefits of these consumption changes, from convenience to lower economic cost to greater sustainability to better preference matching, make legal ownership of many physical private goods undesirable and unnecessary.  But what about the commensurate reduction in psychological ownership; the feeling that a thing is not “MINE.”  This may have profoundly negative consequences for consumers and firms, which have not been widely studied.  Why?

Psychological ownership is not the same as legal ownership, but is, in many ways, a valuable asset for consumers and firms.  It satisfies important consumer motives and is value-enhancing.  Specifically, the feeling that good is MINE enhances how much we like the good, strengthens our attachment to it, and increases how much we think it is worth.”  Downstream consequences for firms include increased consumer demand for goods and services offered by the firm, willingness to pay more for goods, word of mouth promotion, and loyalty.

The researchers propose that the consumption changes currently underway in our society can have three effects on psychological ownership:

  • threaten it,
  • cause it to transfer to other targets,...

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