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Abstract

During recent decades, the number of mixed attribute products (henceforth mixed products), which have both utilitarian and hedonic benefits, has increased dramatically. Despite these products` growing popularity, academic research has paid little attention to them, and there remains a gap between theory and the real world. Hence, our study was undertaken to understand consumers` perceptions about and behaviors toward mixed products, as well as factors affecting the evaluation and choice of these products. We divided mixed attribute products into two categories: mixed utilitarian products (utilitarian products adding hedonic attributes) and mixed hedonic products (hedonic products adding utilitarian attributes). We then showed how adding different attributes affects consumers` perception, willingness to pay (WTP), and the choice of mixed attribute products compared to pure utilitarian or pure hedonic products. We conducted an experiment using a within-subject design. A total of 160 office workers and college students participated in the study. The pure utilitarian product used in the study was orange juice, and the mixed utilitarian product was carbonated orange juice. The pure hedonic product was chocolate, and the mixed hedonic product was polyphenol enriched chocolate. Results showed that consumers perceived a mixed utilitarian product to be less utilitarian, less pleasurable and more guilty than a pure utilitarian product. On the other hand, a mixed hedonic product was perceived to be more utilitarian, less pleasurable and less guilty than a pure hedonic product. Also, WTP for a mixed hedonic product was higher than WTP for a pure hedonic product, but WTP was lower for a mixed utilitarian product than for a pure utilitarian product. Furthermore, mixed hedonic products were likely to be evaluated more favorably when they were presented together with pure hedonic products, more so than when they were presented alone. Finally, when compared to low self-control participants, high self-control participants chose mixed hedonic products more frequently. The present study contributes to the existing literature on utilitarian and hedonic consumption by adding to the sparse literature on the consumption of products that have both utilitarian and hedonic purposes. Also, our research findings provide several useful implications for practitioners in related fields. First, the current study provides marketers with a useful guide for understanding consumers` perceptions of these types of products, and helps to predict how adding different attributes influences these products. Second, this study has examined the conditions that may moderate the evaluation and choice of hedonic base products and this finding will serve as a good reference for marketers of mixed hedonic products in marketing communication strategy, in-store marketing and targeting. Specifically, comparative advertising with a pure hedonic product will be beneficial for a mixed hedonic product. Also, displaying mixed hedonic products near pure hedonic products may enhance the effectiveness of in-store marketing of mixed hedonic products.

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