Involuntary switching behavior in restricted decision environments: Consumer responses to stockouts

Timucin Ozcan, University of Rhode Island


Studies indicate that at least 8% of supermarket items in the US are out-of-stock at any point in time, resulting in annual lost sales of over seven billion dollars. Given the salience of stock-outs, this dissertation examines how consumers make choices when their most preferred alternative is unavailable. This dissertation proposes that when consumers experience a stock-out and make a substitution decision, they would tend to choose the alternatives that are superior on hedonic dimensions. The theoretical arguments for this proposition derive from the literatures on affective-cognitive model of consumer decision making, mood as a repair mechanism, and justification effects. This dissertation also proposes a moderating factor may influence this systematic preference: the level of consumer involvement that is evoked by the usage context.^ In addition, this dissertation investigates the influence of the consumption goals in different usage contexts, shopping basket composition for a required product bundle, and attributions on stockout causes on consumers' reactions to stockouts. After a comprehensive review of the literature and the discussion about key constructs relative to the research questions, three separate studies were conducted. Initial study was an exploratory field survey where consumers actually experience a stockout in a grocery setting. The responses from 216 participants demonstrate a general support for the dissertation hypotheses. Following the first study, two other studies that were scenario-based experiments were conducted to test dissertation hypotheses in a more controlled environment. The results, overall, presented significant support most of the hypotheses. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Marketing

Recommended Citation

Timucin Ozcan, "Involuntary switching behavior in restricted decision environments: Consumer responses to stockouts" (2008). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3328726.