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‘Upgrade effect’ makes users careless with their iPhones

10 October 2017 0

According to a new research, users become careless with their current iPhones if an upgrade is nearby. Researchers at the University of Michigan, Columbia University and Harvard University say carelessness and neglect toward currently owned devices stem from the desire to attain a new enhanced product without appearing wasteful.

The scientists call it the ‘Upgrade effect.’ Researchers studied consumer behaviour and found that product neglect can occur without deliberate intentions if an upgrade is near. In one of the studies, international data set of nearly 3,000 lost iPhones was looked into and researchers found that consumers were more likely to report a loss of phone using the IMEI number when no new iPhone models were available. However, if the launch of a new iPhone was near, consumers dint report a loss of the current device.

“We would feel guilty about upgrading without a reason—but if our current product were damaged or depleted, we’d have a justification to upgrade without appearing wasteful,” says Bellezza, co-author of the study and Assistant Professor of Marketing at Columbia Business School. “So, we use our phone in the rain or leave our laptop behind at airport security without being aware that our carelessness has an underlying motivation.”

“For product upgrades to induce carelessness, it is indeed important that the upgrade product is an enhanced version of the current one, not just a mere replacement,” said Joshua Ackerman, the study’s co-author and an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. “What really seems to be going on is that people have this need to justify the purchase decisions that they make,” Ackerman said. “That need can cause changes in behaviour even when we are not thinking about it. So the idea of buying an upgraded product when you already have something that currently works creates some tension.”

“Contrary to the prevailing notion that consumers highly value and care for their possessions, the current research demonstrates that consumers exhibit cavalier behaviour toward owned products when in the presence of appealing product upgrades,” said Silvia Bellezza, assistant professor of marketing at Columbia Business School and the study’s lead author.


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