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Is a Picture Always Worth a Thousand Words? The Impact of Presentation Formats in Consumers' Early Evaluations of Really New Products (RNPs)


  • Stephanie Feiereisen,

  • Veronica Wong,

  • Amanda J. Broderick

  • The authors would like to express their sincere thanks to the editor for his valuable assistance and guidance. We would also like to thank the reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Address correspondence to: Stephanie Feiereisen, Cass Business School, City University London, 106 Bunhill Row, Room 4040, London EC1Y 8TZ, UK. E-mail: Tel: 44-20-7040-0913.


Really new products (RNPs) enable consumers to do things they have never been able to do before. However, research has shown that consumers have difficulties understanding the benefits of such novel products, and therefore, adoption intentions remain low. Mental simulations and analogies have been identified as effective framing strategies to convey the benefits of RNPs. However, existing research has focused solely on the use of mental simulations and analogies conveyed using words, whereas these can also be conveyed using pictures. Although the general consumer research literature points to a superiority effect of pictures, because the underlying mechanisms that individuals use to understand RNPs differ entirely from those used for traditional products, there is a need to study the impact of pictures for RNPs. Moreover, prior work has not examined differences in RNP type. The present research argues that RNPs can be utilitarian, hedonic, or hybrid and that the optimal presentation format (words versus pictures) is contingent upon the type of RNP considered. Consequently, failure to acknowledge this distinction could lead to negative consequences. The present study aims to identify the impact of alternative presentation formats (i.e., words versus pictures) presented using different framing strategies (i.e., analogies versus mental simulations) on individual responses (i.e., product comprehension and attitude to the product) to three types of RNPs (i.e., utilitarian versus hedonic versus hybrid). Hypotheses are tested by means of an experimental study. The results of the study show that the effectiveness of alternative combinations of framing strategies and presentation formats in enhancing comprehension and attitude for RNPs depends on product type (utilitarian versus hedonic versus hybrid). The empirical findings presented not only extend prior work on consumer responses to mental simulations and analogies for RNPs, but also establish connections between this literature and an underdeveloped stream of research on hybrid products, as well as a broader stream of research on utilitarian versus hedonic product benefits. The findings suggest that practitioners may not have been using optimal marketing communications strategies to convey the benefits of RNPs. Strategies that may help enhance consumer responses to RNPs by taking into consideration product type (utilitarian versus hedonic versus hybrid) are put forward.