Another Look at Loss Aversion in Brand Choice Data: Can we Characterize the Loss Averse Consumer?

Elsevier Inc
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Research in Marketing, 2005, 22 (3), pp. 239 - 254
Issue Date:
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Much research has focused on the effects of reference prices on brand choice decisions using scanner panel data. The theory and application are well-documented and accepted. However, researchers have found contrary results on the existence of loss aversion in consumer goods markets. Loss aversion is a phenomenon based on the reference dependent theory that consumers respond more to losses (reference price < price) than to gains (reference price > price). The mixed results on the existence of loss aversion can be a result of not adequately accounting for consumer heterogeneity in response to marketing effects. Therefore, we focus our analysis on loss aversion and adequately accounting for consumer heterogeneity. We estimate a reference dependent model with a mixed logit specification that allows for a continuous distribution of response heterogeneity in the population. We use Gibbs Sampling to obtain individual estimates. Our estimation results from two different consumer goods categories, which show that the degree of loss aversion is small after properly accounting for heterogeneity. Further, we accomplish a posterior analysis and investigate whether the individual response to gains and losses can be attributed to consumer specific characteristics. The relation of the estimated individual specific variables to households' sociodemographic and psychographic variables as well as to observed purchase behavior reveal interesting insights into which consumers respond more or less to price deviations from their reference point. Hence, our results are important for the development of effective pricing strategies and the timing of price promotions.
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