Sound Judgment: Evaluability and Memory in Speech-based Product Evaluation and Choice

"Sound Judgment: Evaluability and Memory in Speech-based Product Evaluation and Choice," by Kurt Munz and Vicki Morwitz. Under second round review at Journal of Consumer Research.

  2018 Center for Global Economy and Business Grant

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Voice assistants often present choices where consumers listen to product options. But do consumers process information differently when listening compared to reading? Bridging theories on evaluability and memory, six experiments, including one conducted in consumers’ homes on Alexa voice speakers, demonstrate that consumers listening to speech utilize higher-evaluability product information (which can be understood without making comparisons to other options) to guide their judgments and choices relatively more than consumers reading the same text. A difference in memory drives this tendency. This is because (1) due to its ephemeral nature, processing speech requires greater reliance on memory and (2) information higher in evaluability is more easily remembered. Thus, higher-evaluability information is likely to be remembered regardless of presentation mode (speech vs. text), while memory for lower-evaluability information is likely to favor text, leading to the observed effect. The findings speak to the evaluability, memory, and auditory information processing literatures, and underscore that marketing managers presenting choices via speech will do well to highlight favorable highly-evaluable information about products such as recommendations, sales ranks, or descriptions such as “like new.” Substantively, a new format for presenting information is demonstrated which may improve voice-based sales.