A common tactic employed by retailers to enhance shoppers' purchase intentions is to promote a special offer product for purchase only at certain selected stores. This research aimed to identify the specific processes by which restricting the outlets drives intention to buy.
Three between-subjects experiments examined the effect on purchasing intention of outlet selectivity, as mediated by participants' perceptions of temporal accessibility and geographic accessibility (study 1), and investigated the extent to which decisions to buy might be moderated by the limited number of stores where the item would be available (study 2) and by “limited market,” in which the right to buy a product is restricted to a limited set of consumers (study 3).
The study findings are that joint consideration of the perceived temporal and geographic accessibility of a product generates two possible ways in which availability limited to certain stores makes the product seem hard to get and motivates consumer purchase decisions. However, such effect is confined to conditions in which the distribution of those outlets is low-density. When there was no change in those scores if restrictions were lower, participants' responsiveness to decreased availability was significantly raised by announcing that the chance to buy the product is further limited to “eligible” customers.
This research focused on consumer responses to outlet selectivity, a branch of inquiry that treats an overlooked facet of limited availability and provides useful assistance for developing methods to stimulate consumers' desire to purchase.
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