With the development of social economy, people are no longer satisfied with material needs, but try to pursuit for satisfied with spiritual needs. Most people begin to spend money pursuing special experiences, such as travel, extreme sports and so on, which called experiential purchases. Experiential purchases are those made with the primary intention of acquiring a life experience; while material purchases are those made with the primary intention of acquiring a material good(Van Boven & Gilovich, 2003). It’s suggested that consumers should make a more experiential consumption and less material consumption, that is the experience recommendation, which was based on the reported experiential advantage that experiential purchases made consumers happier than material purchases (Caprariello & Reis, 2013; Carter & Gilovich, 2014; Gilovich et al., 2015; Howell & Hill, 2009; Kumar & Gilovich, 2016; Weingarten & Goodman, 2021). However, most experiential advantage literature has focused on the effect of these two types of purchases on their consequences, such as well-being and envy, which ignore the factors that affect consumers’ consumption decision making(Kumar & Gilovich, 2016; Gilovich & Gallo, 2020; Yu et al., 2016; Lin et al., 2018). As there are so many merchandises in stores, people have no idea what to choose, sometimes. Therefore, it is particularly important for stores to advertise different products to consumers, which could further improve their willingness to buy(Dehghani & Tumer, 2015; Martins et al., 2019). To contribute to the experiential advantage argument, our study will enrich this literature from two perspectives.
First, there is a significant difference between the experiential purchase and material purchase in happiness; while other differences between the two purchases, especially the differences between advertising and promotions are still unclear (Gilovich et al., 2015; Aknin et al., 2018). As we all know, consumption is an important factor to promote economic growth. Therefore, how to enhance consumers' purchase intention and promote shopping, are both important for companies and economies. So we choose purchase intention as the outcome variable, to find the ways to enhance people's willingness to buy, as well as the differences in the ways between the two purchases.
Second, the relationships between message framing and purchase intention have been repeatedly reported in psychology literature(Meyerowitz & Chaiken, 1987a; Chen et al., 1998; Gamliel & Herstein, 2007; Zhang et al., 2018; Tanford et al., 2019). Surprisingly, the experiential advantage literature has not investigated the roles of message framing. Gallo et al.(2017) find consumers rely more on intuition when making experiential purchase decisions, while they rely more on deliberation, when making material purchase decisions. Furthermore, dual-process theory is the classic theory of message framing (Guo et al., 2017). Therefore, message framing may be an import factor to influence consumers’ willingness to buy material and experiential purchases. This study seeks to explore the interaction of purchase type and message framing on purchase intention, as well as the underlying mechanism. Uncovering this underlying mechanism could empower marketers to match the advertising with consumption types better.
Through two studies with consumers in China, our research attempts to contribute to the experiential purchase literature by (1) incorporating purchase intention to the experiential advantage model; (2) proposing an interaction factor of message framing on purchase intention.
LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESE DEVELOPMENT
Message framing and differential types of purchase decision making
According to Van Boven and Gilovich (2003), experiential purchase refers to what we do, while material purchase refers to what we have, and the former leads to greater well-being than the latter, which is called the experience recommendation. Even the same objects described as experiential purchases would be more satisfied than described as material purchase(Mann & Gilovich, 2016). There are three underlying reasons for this. First, experiential purchases could enhance social relations more effectively than materials; furthermore, a bigger part of consumers’ identity was formed by experience not objects; last, they evoke fewer social comparisons than material purchases(Gilovich et al., 2015). Experiential purchase could arouse not only stronger positive emotions than material purchases, but also stronger negative emotions(i.e. envy)(Lin, 2018; Lin et al., 2018). They incite a more benign envy than materials; while materials incite more malicious envy than them(Lin, 2018). Besides, experiential purchase has an advantage over material purchase in marketing. It is found that consumers are eager to make experiential consumption first and make material consumption later (Hwang et al., 2019). Even though they don’t have enough money, they are more willing to borrow for experiences rather than materials(Tully & Sharma, 2017). Furthermore, consumers would be more patient when waiting for experiential consumption than material consumption(Kumar et al., 2014). After consumption, people prefer to talk about experiences over materials with their friends, which contribute to the spread of the word of mouth of experiential purchases (Duan & Dholakia, 2018; Gannon et al., 2019).
The research on experiential consumption and material consumption mainly focuses on the consequence variables, which ignore the factors that promote consumers to make experiential purchases or material purchases. Experiential consumption is made for experiencing, which tend to meet the psychological needs of consumers; while material consumption is made for possessing, tend to meet the physical needs of consumers. It’s difficult to say what kind of consumption person would prefer because consumers have so many different needs, psychological or physical. However, researchers do find the processing of consumer affects their choice of consumption: consumption intention of experiential purchase would be stronger than material purchase in the intuition condition but weaker in the rationality condition (Gallo et al., 2017). Consumption intention is the willingness of consumers to buy products, in other words, it’s the likelihood the buyer intends to buy the product (Grewal et al., 1998). Therefore, we believe that there is no significant difference between the experiential consumption intention and material consumption intentions in general, but once the processing of consumption was priming differently, the distinction of intention between two consumption would be clear.
Message framing refers to the effect that people respond differently to different descriptions (in positive or negative description) of the same question, which has been demonstrated in marketing and health research(Chen et al., 1998; Van’t Riet et al., 2016). Message framing could change people’s attitude, purchase intention and behavior (Baek & Yoon, 2017; Amatulli et al., 2019; Lagomarsino et al., 2020). The persuasion of the message framing is inconsistent. Sometimes, the message will be more persuasive in the promotion conditions, while the situation may be reversed, it will be more persuasive in the prevention condition(Maheswaran & Meyers Levy, 1990; Gallagher & Updegraff, 2012; Baek & Yoon, 2017; Amatulli et al., 2019; Lagomarsino et al., 2020). Researchers believe that promotional messages would be more effective in promoting safe behaviors that serve to prevent illness, while preventive information would be more effective to promote risky behaviors(Meyerowitz & Chaiken, 1987b; Van’t Riet et al., 2016). The framing effect will be affected by involvement, time pressure, personality characteristics, the way of processing and so on(Maheswaran & Meyers Levy, 1990; Zhang & Buda, 1999; Ülkümen & Thomas, 2013; Guo et al., 2017).
According to dual-processing theory, there are two systems of processing which including analytical/ systematic and heuristic/ holistic systems(McElroy & Seta, 2003). Analytical processing is relatively slow, controlled, and effortful, while heuristic processing is relatively quick, automatic, and easy(Inbar et al., 2010). Confronting with choices, people act as ‘‘cognitive misers’’ and tend to decide intuitively at first, then to adjust rationally (Sun et al., 2007). Compared to gain, consumer will pay more attention to loss, that is, the inclination of loss aversion(Tversky & Kahneman, 1992). Therefore, consumers tend to depend on intuition in the promotional conditions when deciding what to buy and rely on reason in the prevention condition. To some extent, purchase intention of consumer depends on the processing style of message. However, different types of consumption have different advantages under different processing styles, as mentioned in the front(Gallo et al., 2017). So, there may be an interaction of consumption type and message framing on purchase intention. Experiential purchase is what we buy for experience, and material purchase is what we buy for possession. The latter is tangible, while the former is intangible, could only keep in memory. It is harder to evaluate experiential purchase objectively. Inbar et al. (2010) find when choices are seen as evaluable objectively, people elicit a preference for choosing rationally. In other words, consumer will choose experiential purchases intuitively, and choose material purchase rationally. Processing promotional messages, people depend more on intuition causing an advantage of experiential purchase over materials; meanwhile, processing preventive message, they depend more on reason causing an advantage of material purchase. Thus, we hypothesize the following,
H1: There will be an interaction effect of consumption type and message framing on purchase intention. Experiential purchases will have a greater impact on consumers’ purchase intention in promotion condition, but less impact on consumers’ purchase intention in prevention condition than material purchases.
Mediating role of perceived value
Perceived value refers to the overall assessment of the utility of products or service based on perceptions of what is received and what is given (Zeithaml, 1988). Perceived value is an important predictor of consumers’ purchase intention(Tam, 2004; Kuo et al., 2009; Pandža Bajs, 2015; Konuk, 2018). When consumers consider which to choose, they will evaluate the value of products at first and make a decision on the principle of value maximization. The perceived value of products is more important than objective value when consumers make buying decisions (Zeithaml, 1988). The same product has different meanings to different people, so does its perceived value. For example, a handbag of Hermès, to someone, is the symbol of status, with high perceived value; while it’s just an ordinary handbag to other people with low perceived value. Consumers tend to choose products or service with highest perceived value. Additionally, the description of consumption would affect the perceived value of products or service (Chen et al., 1998; Grewal et al., 1998; Banerjee & Bandyopadhyay, 2003). Emphasizing the benefits or losses of consumption will activate different processing styles of consumer, which further impacts the perceived value of consumption. That is to say, the perceived value will be affected by purchase type and message framing.
People tend to avoid loss(Tversky & Kahneman, 1992), so they may pay more attention to preventive information and adopt analytical processing on prevention conditions. When selecting materials, people tend to compare and evaluate the objects, then make a choice on reason(Inbar et al., 2010), which has an advantage under analytical processing conditions. So, the perceived value of material purchase will be higher in preventive condition than in promotional condition, and it further influences the purchase intention of consumers. However, when selecting experience, which is difficult to evaluate objectively, people rely more on their intuition and adopt heuristic processing. At this time, if we push them to prevention information and force them to think about the loss rationally, the appeal of experiential buying will decrease. It’s easy to infer that the perceived value of experiential purchase will be lower in preventive condition than in promotional condition, which will further influence the consumption intention. Overall, there is a match of processing style between purchase type and message framing. In most occasions, consumer chooses experiential purchases intuitively, and choose material purchases rationally. Adopting intuitive processing, the perceived value of experiential purchases would be higher than materials. Namely, in promotional condition, the perceived value of experience would be higher than materials; while in preventive condition, the perceived value of material purchases would be higher than experience with the analytical processing style. Thus, we hypothesize the following,
H2: There will be an interaction effect of consumption type and message framing on perceived value. Experiential purchases will have a greater impact on consumers’ perceived value in promotion condition (H2a), but less impact on consumers’ perceived value in prevention condition than material purchases(H2b).
H3: Perceived value will mediate the interaction effect of purchase type and message framing on purchase intention. Experiential purchases will have a greater impact on consumers’ perceived value than material purchases in promotion condition, then choose experiential purchase in preference to material purchase(H3a); but less impact on consumers’ perceived value in prevention condition, then choose material purchase in preference to experiential purchase(H3b).