New Tech Toy?

Release Date: December 2, 2011 This content is archived.


Charles D. Lindsey, assistant professor of marketing

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- If you’ve ever spent the day after Christmas rifling through the user's manual of a new device, you’ll be interested to know that intense, hands-on trial periods are the best way for consumers to learn how to use new products, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

In addition, this type of learning increases consumers’ enjoyment of the product, which can lead to higher customer loyalty.

The research was conducted by Arun Lakshmanan and Charles D. Lindsey, both assistant professors of marketing in the University at Buffalo School of Management, and H. Shanker Krishnan, professor of marketing and Whirlpool Faculty Fellow in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

“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,” the researchers say.

“It is commonly thought that if you break up learning sessions and distribute them over time, better learning is achieved,” Lakshmanan explains. “But we found that when it comes to learning new skills, such as those to use electronic devices, it is better to have intense learning in one session.”

Through clinical trials, the researchers found that subjects who had one intense session of trial with a new product learned to use it better than those who had three trials spaced over time.

“Not only that, we also found that people who learned how to use it in one sitting tended to like the product more,” Lakshmanan says.

This increased enjoyment can have long-range benefits to companies that make the devices.

“Nowadays, you are not just buying a product, you are buying a platform,” Lakshmanan says. “When you purchase an Xbox, for example, you are also in the market to buy more games and add-ons to the system.

“If the customer learns how to use the original system in a way that fosters enjoyment of the product, the company can have a customer for life,” Lakshmanan says.

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