Eric Johnson

Reference Dependence, Loss Aversion, and Brand Choice

Coauthor(s): Bruce G. S. Hardie, Peter Fader.


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Based upon a recently developed multiattribute generalization of prospect theory's value function (Tversky and Kahneman 1991), we argue that consumer choice is influenced by the position of brands relative to multiattribute reference points, and that consumers weigh losses from a reference point more than equivalent sized gains (loss aversion). We sketch implications of this model for understanding brand choice. We develop a multinomial logit formulation of a reference-dependent choice model, calibrating it using scanner data. In addition to providing better fit in both estimation and forecast periods than a standard multinomial logit model, the model's coefficients demonstrate significant loss aversion, as hypothesized. We also discuss the implications of a reference-dependent view of consumer choice for modeling brand choice, demonstrate that loss aversion can account for asymmetric responses to changes in product characteristics, and examine other implications for competitive strategy.

Source: Marketing Science
Exact Citation:
Hardie, B., Eric Johnson, and P. Fader. "Reference Dependence, Loss Aversion, and Brand Choice." Marketing Science 12, no. 4 (Fall 1993): 378-94.
Volume: 12
Number: 4
Pages: 378-94
Date: Fall 1993