The Effects of “Add-On” Features on Perceived Product Value

The research presented in this paper provides evidence that “add-on” features offered to enhance a core offering can be more than just optional benefits. We argue that consumers draw inferences based on the mere availability of an add-on and that these inferences lead to significant changes in the perceived utility of the product itself. We further argue that the enhancements supplied by add-ons can be classified as either alignable or nonalignable, with opposing effects on evaluation. A set of four studies supports this prediction. We also show that the amount of product information available to consumers and their expectations about the composition of the core offering play important moderating roles. From a managerial standpoint, our findings highlight the need for marketers to be mindful of how their firm or any third-party provider handles add-ons as part of product policy.

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