Really new products (RNPs) provide novel benefits yet many consumers are reluctant to accept these highly innovative new products. Previous literature has shown that mental simulation is an effective method for enhancing the evaluation of RNPs. However, Castano et al. (2008) and Zhao, Hoeffler, and Zauberman (2011) demonstrate conflicting results as to which type of mental simulation (i.e., process versus outcome) is more effective for the enhancement of RNP evaluation. The authors try to reconcile these results by incorporating a moderating variable which is personal need for structure (PNS). PNS is an individual difference variable that taps the differences in people’s propensity to cognitively structure and simplify their environment (Neuberg and Newsom 1993). From the analysis of the previous two works, the authors point out that consumers’ susceptibility to uncertainty may contribute to the different results, and suggest that this susceptibility is dependent on consumers’ PNS. To test the hypotheses established, an experiment was conducted. Waterless washing machine was presented as a RNP and PNS was measured by using the 12-item PNS Scale (Thompson et al. 2001). The results of the study show that for high-PNS consumers, process simulation is more effective than outcome simulation for enhancing the evaluation of a RNP, whereas for low-PNS consumers, outcome simulation is more effective than process simulation.
This research contributes to the mental simulation and new product literature by suggesting and verifying that PNS moderates the effects of process versus outcome simulations for enhancing the evaluation of RNPs. This research provides important managerial implications for marketing managers of RNPs, indicating that they should take account of the target consumers’ PNS in planning marketing communications. Specifically, when targeting high-PNS consumers, marketing communications that encourage process simulation may be more effective than those that encourage outcome simulation. In contrast, when targeting low-PNS consumers, marketing communications that encourage outcome simulation may be more effective than those that encourage process simulation.