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Why people settle for the costlier

I am asked, 'My boss is worried about paying a huge sum of money for her car service. She is sure that a non-showroom service center (unauthorized pvt service station) can provide better service at a cheaper cost, but still she insists on showroom service. She herself finds it difficult to understand her behavior as a consumer! The brainstorming session we had seems to suggest this is due to the fear associated with private service stations. What do you believe could be a possible explanation to this behavior?'

My response: 'The 'fear' explanation of course is the right one. But the question is, why the fear? The answer lies in our understanding of 'consumer involvement'. Your boss is 'highly involved' with her car. The reason for the involvement can be traced to both psychological and economic issues (read, risks) at play. Your boss I guess paid quite a bit of money for the car. Plus she covets the car at an emotional level. She is 'attached' to it. Its hers, and it represents her to the rest of world. Remember the car is a conspicuous product. 

So when it comes to servicing, the 'best' has to do for her pride and joy. Again her psyche prompts her to associate greater credibility (expertise) with showroom service vis-a-vis the non-showroom one. Her rational self tries to butt in with a perfectly valid comparative argument, but her irrational self drowns it out.

So she settles for what appeals to her sense of psychological comfort, namely, a costlier showroom service.'

For any other such queries, do write in.


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