Cornell University Johnson at Cornell University


How sweet it will be

leafvanboven Leaf Van Boven, Assistant Professor of Marketing

Memories may last a lifetime, but anticipation is more stirring than retrospection. That's the conclusion of a new study by Leaf Van Boven, assistant professor of marketing. The study, "Looking Forwarsd, Looking Back: Anticipation Is More Evocative Than Retrospection," was recently published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, and was covered in a Feb. 20, 2008 article in Psychology Today, "Can't Wait! Anticipation really is sweet."

Van Boven's study has implications for advertisers and marketers, since the use of tense in advertising copy can be crucial. Appealing to the expectation of "making memories" on a family vacation may not be the best marketing approach, Van Boven says. "It might dampen enthusiasm because it invites retrospective thought. Conversely, anticipating an enjoyable family trip — simulating fun on the slopes or in a theme park — may arouse consumer interest more effectively."

Van Boven suggests, "Retailers who are interested in maximizing consumer value and creating positive emotions should engage consumers' anticipation early and then persist in reminding consumers about their upcoming experience. Retailers should recognize that the window of consumption experience extends beyond the point of purchase into both the past and future, that consumption experiences include both anticipation and retrospection — and that anticipation is more emotionally involving than retrospection. This will be especially effective in tourism and other 'experiential' forms of consumption."

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