Consumer response to stockouts
Consumer responses to stockouts, both in terms of consumer satisfaction with the decision process and in terms of subsequent store choice behavior, are explored. Four laboratory experiments involving stockouts in a consumer choice context are run. The results suggest that consumer response to stockouts is driven in large part by two factors: the effect of a stockout on the difficulty of making a choice from the set and the degree of personal commitment to the out-of-stock alternative. The results show that personal commitment to an out-of-stock choice option is a function of preference for the option, whether the option is included in the consumer's consideration set, and the degree to which the stockout announcement is personally directed. As personal commitment to the out-of-stock option increases, consumers react substantially and negatively to the stockout - they report lower satisfaction with the decision process and show a higher likelihood of switching stores on subsequent shopping trips. However, under conditions in which personal commitment to the out-of-stock option is low and the stockout leads to a decrease in the difficulty of making a product selection, consumer response to the stockout can actually be positive.
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