Essays on Product Quality
This dissertation extends existing knowledge on the perception and pursuit of product quality. Our nuanced findings identify overlooked motivational, perceptual, and structural drivers of perceived product quality. The first chapter examines an underexplored self-related motive that determines whether consumers choose inferior or superior products for themselves. We show that consumers with low self-esteem gravitate towards relatively inferior products because they strive to verify their negative self-views. The third chapter elucidates how consumer expertise, or knowledge, shapes perceptions of product quality. Specifically, we show that being knowledgeable entails benefits (“blessing of expertise”) but also costs (“curse of expertise”). Knowledgeable consumers enjoy elite products more than novices, but are less able to enjoy mundane products. In the second chapter, we examine what may cause producers to release lower quality products. By examining the motion picture industry as a case study, we highlight that arbitrary industry-set constraints on product length can hinder the product development process and may cause filmmakers to release movies that fail to appeal to consumers.