Die gemeinsam von Björn Hüttel, Prof. Dr. Jan H. Schumann, Prof. Dr. Martin Mende, Prof. Dr. Maura Scott und Dr. Christian Wagner verfasste Forschungsarbeit "How Consumers Assess Free E-Services: The Role of Benefit-Inflation and Cost-Deflation Effects" wurde im Journal of Service Research zu Veröffentlichung angenommen. Das Journal of Service Research ist ein weltweit führendes Journal im Bereich Dienstleistungsmarketing und ist im VHB-Ranking (VHB-JOURQUAL 3) als A-Journal eingestuft.
Hüttel, B., Schumann, J. H., Mende, M., Scott, M., & Wagner, C. (forthcoming). How Consumers Assess Free E-Services: The Role of Benefit-Inflation and Cost-Deflation Effects. Journal of Service Research. (VHB3: A).
Despite the ubiquity of free services in the marketplace (e.g., free music/video streaming services), little empirical research has examined how consumers assess free e-services. This research reveals the crucial role of consumer-perceived nonmonetary costs (e.g., related to advertising intrusiveness) to better explain the prominent zero-price effect (ZPE). Empirical research on the underlying processes of the ZPE is scarce, making it effectively a “black box.” Four experiments show that free e-services elicit positive affect in consumers, which leads to two distinct effects that drive the ZPE: a benefit-inflation effect, such that consumers overemphasize the benefits of free e-services, and a cost-deflation effect, such that they also judge the corresponding nonmonetary costs as lower. Further explaining why consumers assess free eservices in this unique manner, the authors uncover that the social norm of reciprocity increases consumers’ acceptance of nonmonetary costs. This research provides managerial guidance on how to better market free service offerings. Companies that consider providing basic and premium offerings, should include a free basic service option, which increases consumers’ benefit perceptions, lowers their perceptions of nonmonetary costs, and consequently increases demand for this service option. Furthermore, the findings help managers to model the trade-off between immediate additional revenue generated by the fees consumers pay for a premium option and the revenue stream that a free basic option generates (e.g., through higher advertising revenues). Finally, companies can further leverage the cost-deflation effect by triggering the norm of reciprocity to justify advertising as part of their free service offering: