An Experience-Utility Explanation of the Preference for Larger Assortments


International Journal of Research in Marketing

September 2017, vol. 34, n°3, pp.746-760

Departments: Marketing, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Assortment size; Affect; Emotion; Consumer decision making

Although choosing from large assortments has often been found to be demotivating, a robust finding in the marketing literature is that consumers generally prefer larger product assortments. Standard explanations for this preference for larger assortments have focused on reason-based considerations revolving around large assortments enabling potentially “better” choices. This paper offers a different and novel, affect-based explanation. We argue that the relative preference for larger assortments is driven in part by the greater experience utility that consumers derive from reviewing such assortments. Because most products are carriers of positive affect, consumers tend to derive greater experience utility from reviewing larger assortments compared to smaller assortments. Support for this general proposition was found across four experimental studies using different strategies to document the role of affect-based experience utility in driving the preference for larger assortments. Theoretical and substantive implications are discussed