Consumers can build expertise by sampling products that are differentiated vertically, in terms of quality, or horizontally, in terms of taste. While the effects of horizontal sampling are well understood, the effects of vertical sampling are understudied. Four experiments (total N = 1080; one preregistered; with US American, British, and Dutch participants) elucidate how vertical sampling (i.e., experiencing products of varying quality) affects enjoyment. We find that vertical sampling strengthens the association between product quality and enjoyment. Gaining experience can thus involve hedonic benefits (i.e., greater enjoyment of high-quality products) but, perhaps more importantly, also hedonic costs (i.e., lower enjoyment of low-quality products). Our studies provide evidence for a similarity-testing account. Effects on enjoyment occur if consumers sampled products of similar (vs. dissimilar) quality as the target. Customer expertise may therefore need to be conceptualized in terms of whether consumers' sampling history covers many (vs. few) different product quality levels. Customer expertise depends less on the overall number of sampled products.
|Journal||Psychology & Marketing|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2022|
- dissimilarity testing
- quality sensitivity
- similarity testing
- vertical sampling