Not-so Easy Listening: How Listening to Options Affects Product Choice and Evaluation

Munz, Kurt P.and Vicki G. Morwitz (2024), "Not-so Easy Listening: How Listening to Options Affects Product Choice and Evaluation," special session presented at the Society for Consumer Psychology Conference Nashville, TN.

Five experiments (N=3,325) reveal that listening to options (vs. reading them) is harder for consumers when they must rely on memory to evaluate options, as when making comparisons. This difficulty when listening can reduce consumers’ purchase likelihood, and it can shift their choices, as they focus on easily understandable product descriptions such as “like new” or “recommended” when listening versus reading. Listening presents challenges due to speech’s ephemeral nature, placing a higher burden on memory. However, an experiment using voice speakers in consumers’ homes demonstrates a speech format that reduces memory burden and improves purchase likelihood by facilitating effective comparisons.