Popularity signs (e.g., “best seller”, “top rated”) are frequently employed by marketers to help consumers in their purchase decisions. Whereas extant research has focused mostly on the positive aspects of such a strategy, we demonstrate that it can also have adverse effects on consumer post-choice behavior. Depending on consumer regulatory orientation, such popularity signs can make the decision task more complex and increase feelings of uncertainty. The results of seven studies, including real choice decisions and field data, show that the provision of popularity signs can have negative consequences on consumers with a prevention (vs. promotion) focus by increasing the heterogeneity of their consideration set, increasing their choice uncertainty, and, consequently, decreasing their choice commitment. Beyond their theoretical significance, our findings shed novel light on the ways to implement popularity signs for a more efficiently targeted marketing effort.
Ghiassaleh, A., Kocher, B., & Czellar, S. (2020). Best Seller!? Unintended negative consequences of popularity signs on consumer choice behavior. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 37(4), 805-820. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijresmar.2020.04.003