Guess Who Buys Cheap? The Effect of Consumers’ Goal Orientation on Product Preference

Woo Jin Choi, Haoying Sun, Yan Liu, Haipeng Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The current research examines how goal orientation affects consumer preference among products with different prices. We argue that a less expensive product may have not only lower perceived quality but also greater perceived quality variability. This greater perceived variability provides the opportunity for optimistic, promotion-oriented consumers to overestimate the quality of the less expensive product. This effect is weaker, however, for a more expensive product that consumers perceive to have less quality variability and which thus provides less room for quality overestimation. As a result, we hypothesize that promotion-oriented consumers, as compared to prevention-oriented consumers, will demonstrate a stronger preference for a less expensive product. In a field study and two laboratory experiments, we obtain empirical support both for the hypothesized effect of consumers’ goal orientation on their product preference and for its underlying process. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of our results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-514
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • goal orientation
  • prevention focus
  • price
  • promotion focus
  • quality estimation
  • quality variability


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