Latest iPhone Features Are Siren Call to Consumers

The iPhone 5 attracted more than two million buyers last Friday, but how many of its dazzling new features will they actually use?

There’s a lot to love about the iPhone 5, including a larger screen and a new operating system with some 200 additional features. But many who stood in line and plunked down big bucks for Apple’s cutting-edge gadget may be more interested in having the features than using them.

Once the novelty wears off, will those consumers still enjoy their purchase?

It depends on why they bought the phone, says Joseph K. Goodman, an assistant professor of marketing at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. In several studies, Goodman found that consumers fail to accurately estimate their feature usage rate before buying products with multiple functions, which dampens enthusiasm for the product.

Consumers focus on having features rather than assessing how often they will use them, which can lead to a drop in satisfaction with the purchase, Goodman says.

“Consumers focus too much on just having the latest features, and don’t spend time elaborating on how often they will use the features,” Goodman says. “When they do actually elaborate on usage, then they tend to buy lower featured products and they tend to be more satisfied with their purchase, regardless of whether they buy a high or low feature product.”

 The study’s findings don’t tell people what to buy, but how to make purchase decisions, Goodman explains. “Consumers should at least stop and consider how often they are going to use each new additional feature before they make their decision,” he notes.

The study, “Having Versus Consuming: Failure to Estimate Usage Frequency Makes Consumers Prefer Multi-feature Products,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research.