“I Need My Own Substance! Effects of Anthropomorphic Product Presentations on Brand Choice of Complementary Accessories” by Mr. He (Michael) JIA
Mr. He (Michael) JIA
PhD Candidate in Marketing
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
Across many industries, firms with established brands attract consumers by selling a base product (e.g., printer) at a low price, yet earn their most significant profit from consumers’ repeated purchases of complementary accessories (e.g., ink or toner) for the base product. In this research, we examine how to protect such firms from the threat imposed by competitors that provide low-cost complementary accessories as alternatives to consumers. We show that anthropomorphic presentations of a base product (e.g., making a printer move its “lips” when “talking” in a video advertisement) increase consumers’ choice share of complementary accessories from the same brand that provides the base product over accessories from a different brand. We propose that this is because consumers are biologically averse to foreign body-related substances, and they also project such an aversion onto complementary accessories from a different brand, which represent “foreign body substances” to an anthropomorphized base product. In line with this bodily consideration account, we further demonstrate that the effect of anthropomorphic product presentation on brand choice (1) is driven by a decrease in the perceived compatibility between a base product and accessories from a different brand, (2) does not extend to consumers’ choice of other products that can work independently of a base product, (3) disappears when accessories are framed as non-body substances, and (4) becomes stronger for consumers who are more averse to foreign body-related substances.