Nav: Home

The challenges of learning to use new products

June 21, 2010

Consumers learn how to use new products best if they get a chance to try them out repeatedly, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"With the proliferation of consumer devices such as the iPhone, Wii, digital cameras, and various kinds of software applications, consumers face the challenge of learning to use new products," write authors Arun Lakshmanan, Charles D. Lindsey (both University at Buffalo - SUNY), and H. Shanker Krishnan (Indiana University). The researchers found that "massed learning" (intense hands-on trial periods) lead to consumers developing a good mental model of the product, a positive attitude, and greater willingness to pay for new products.

"For example, a new Wii user may play a game repeatedly during one gaming session and thus attain some skill at using the nunchuck or she may become proficient via multiple play episodes over and extended period of time," the authors write. For some items, companies can facilitate trials. For example, a Best Buy salesperson may ask a teen trying Rock Band for the first time to play around with its features, or cellphone representative might help a potential customer program numbers into a phone. Companies may want to consider ways to allow customers even more chances to work with their products.

The authors also found that consumers differ in how they learn: they may learn by following instructions or through actual experience. "Over four experiments conducted using different software products we find that when consumers learn how to use a new product by reading instructions, they do better if the learning episodes are spaced," the authors write. "However, if their learning is via actual trial, they do better if the learning episodes are massed."

Their study also found that massed trials lead to a better and more flexible mental model of the product. In turn, consumers are better able to undertake new tasks with the product. "This ability is particularly relevant for new product success since it determines how much a product is used after purchase," the authors write.

"For example, individuals may try out different modes of image capture in a digital camera during their first interaction with the product (say, in a store) but over time, may use features that are different than the one initially learned (various resolution settings, timer set-up, etc.). How well consumers perform on these new tasks may have a strong bearing on how much they use the products, and in turn, their ultimate satisfaction."
-end-
Arun Lakshmanan, Charles D. Lindsey and H. Shanker Krishnan, "Practice Makes Perfect? When Does Massed Learning Improve Product Usage Proficiency?" Journal of Consumer Research: December 2010. A preprint of this article (to be officially published online soon) can be found at http://journals.uchicago.edu/jcr).

University of Chicago Press Journals

Related Consumers Articles:

What's in a name? For young Chinese consumers, it's about culture mixing
Younger, more cosmopolitan Chinese consumers tend to favor brand translations that keep both the sound and the meaning of the original name, says U. of I. business professor and branding expert Carlos J.
Why do consumers participate in 'green' programs?
From recycling to reusing hotel towels, consumers who participate in a company's 'green' program are more satisfied with its service, finds a new study co-led by a Michigan State University researcher.
Consumers care about carbon footprint
How much do consumers care about the carbon footprint of the products they buy?
Consumers have huge environmental impact
You won't make big cuts in your environmental impact by taking shorter showers or turning out the lights.
Consumers' preferences for foliage plant attributes
Experiments investigated the effect of plant attributes on consumers' likelihood of purchasing indoor foliage plants.
New study finds adult fresh pear consumers had a lower body weight than non-pear consumers
The epidemiologic study, led by Carol O'Neil of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, used a nationally representative analytic sample to examine the association of fresh pear consumption with nutrient intake, nutrient adequacy, diet quality, and cardiovascular risk factors in adults.
How much do consumers know about new sunscreen labels?
Sunscreen labels may still be confusing to consumers, with only 43 percent of those surveyed understanding the definition of the sun protection factor value, according to the results of a small study published in a research letter online by JAMA Dermatology.
Saving money: Do consumers spend less if they think about the future?
Why is it so hard for consumers to save money?
When are consumers more likely to rely on feelings to make decisions?
Why do some consumers make choices based on their feelings instead of rational assessments?
How are ordinary consumers transforming the fashion business?
One of the most important shifts of the 21st century is the ability of consumers to participate in markets they love such as music and fashion.

Related Consumers Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...