Overcoming the Negative Role of Nostalgia in Consumer Reactions to Automated Products

Sustaining Complement Quality for Digital Product Platforms

Overcoming the Negative Role of Nostalgia in Consumer Reactions to Automated Products

Patrick Kremer, Sven Feurer, Ju-Young Kim, and Steve Hoeffler

kHUB post date: March 1, 2023
Originally published: June 21, 2022 (PDMA JPIM • Vol. 39, Issue 6 • November 2022)
Read time: 50 minutes

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Automated products that take over tasks that consumers used to carry out themselves are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but consumers continue to resist such innovations. Drawing on the status quo bias as a theoretical framework, this article investigates the role of nostalgia in consumer reactions to product automation in a series of six experiments with almost 1500 participants. The first four experiments converge on a consistent finding: a high (versus low) degree of automation reduces consumers' nostalgic feelings about past consumption episodes, which in turn decrease nostalgia-prone consumers' product evaluations. Against this backdrop, we conduct two additional experiments to determine how firms' communication tactics can overcome the negative role of nostalgia proneness in consumer reactions to automated products. We conclude that managers involved in the marketing of automated products should assess the level of nostalgia in their target groups, and align both their intended positioning for the automated product and the decision to automate critical tasks within the product design that may evoke nostalgic feelings in consumers. Furthermore, when consumers are nostalgia-prone, managers should craft their launch communication tactics such that the focus is diverted from the automated task itself.

Practitioner Points

  • This research illuminates how nostalgia leads some consumers to resist automated products.
  • It is important to understand that nostalgic memories that consumers have stored in their memories relate to carrying out even mundane tasks themselves.
  • Automating functions that take over such tasks disconnects consumers from such nostalgic memories, potentially leading to lower product evaluations from nostalgia-prone consumers.
  • Managers can overcome this effect by shifting consumers’ focus to nontask-related aspects of the product.

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