Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Whether they are renting a neighbor’s used tools, using a bike sharing program to get to work rather than owning a car, or streaming a movie online through Netflix, consumers are forgoing traditional ownership of goods in favor of gaining mere access to them. This behavior reflects a change in the way consumers view possession and ownership. While it is known that consumers become attached to possessions and that possessions mean a great deal to the identities and lives of consumers, it is unclear how consumers feel about goods which they can possess and use but do not own. Specifically, it is unknown whether consumers perceive and become attached to accessed goods in the same way they do owned goods. The answer to this question has strong implications for marketing theory and practice. This study found no significant difference in the perceived value of the good or the perceived value of the possession experience between owned and accessed goods. However, psychological feelings of ownership were found to affect these measures both directly and as a mediating factor between the method of possession and the perceptions of value. This relationship was not found to behave in the same way for both hedonic and utilitarian goods. Utilitarian goods appeared to benefit slightly more than hedonic goods from feelings of ownership. This research has strong implications for theory, including the development of a new conceptual model that ties together disparate research areas, the lack of differences in ownership effects between owned and accessed goods, and the important role played by psychological ownership in shaping consumer perceptions. This research also has strong implications for managers relating to consumer perceptions of owned vs. accessed goods, the importance of generating feelings of psychological ownership within customers, and the differential effect this process has on the perception of utilitarian products.
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