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The effect of winning-losing perception on consumers’ variety-seeking behavior

En-Chung Chang (School of Business, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)
Beixi Wen (School of Business, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)
Xiaofei Tang (Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu, China)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 27 January 2021

Issue publication date: 17 June 2021




This study aims to investigate the effect of winning-losing perception, including the winning or losing result and the closeness of this result, on consumers’ subsequent variety-seeking behavior.


Four experimental designs, one with a modified version of the Tetris game, were used to show how and when winning or losing perceptions will influence individuals’ variety-seeking behavior.


Consumers who have failed in a competition or not achieved a goal tend to seek less variety in their later consumption than do consumers who have succeeded because losing feedback weakens consumers’ perception of their control of personal mastery. This effect only exists when the closeness of winning or losing is narrow (e.g. the success is just missed) and diminishes when the result is clear and obvious.

Research limitations/implications

The current study has systematically explored the interaction between winning-losing outcomes and the closeness of these outcomes.

Practical implications

This study offers marketing managers practical guidance on how to use competition results to conduct marketing activities, such as transmitting advertisements for classic flavors to those who have lost in a video game or properly increasing the proportion of new flavors or products in stores or vending machines near sports venues.


This research adds to the literature on competition, which has largely overlooked the possible moderating role of the closeness of the competition result and its influence on individuals’ follow-up irrelevant behaviors and it also adds to the work on variety-seeking behavior, which has not explored the impact of winning-losing perception.



The authors thank the EJM editor, associate editor, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. The authors also thank Dr Samuele Zilioli for his generously sharing of the Tetris material used in study 3.

The first two authors contributed equally to this research.


Chang, E.-C., Wen, B. and Tang, X. (2021), "The effect of winning-losing perception on consumers’ variety-seeking behavior", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 6, pp. 1624-1642.



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