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Gifts as conduits in choice overload environments

Abstract This study investigates competing for theoretical stances (i.e., choice overload vs. choice cornucopia) and explores how increases in spending occur in high and low choice conditions following receiving promotional gift offers in a service consumption setting. This study includes a nonobtrusive field experiment (n = 200) that includes measured and manipulated variables: purchase versus nonpurchase conditions and size of expenditures. The study's context tests the use of two versus five promotional gift options and two levels of gift value (6 vs. €20). Findings using symmetrical (analysis of variance [ANOVA]) and asymmetrical (fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis [fsQCA]) methods of analysis support the choice overload hypothesis in this unobtrusive field experiment. Also, spending in the high versus low choice condition increased when hotel guests were offered a high‐value gift for using room service. Given the nature of the nonobtrusive field experiment, this study provides valuable information for marketers and consumers regarding the moderating effects of promotional gifts in many option environments. While prior studies explore the conditions of choice cornucopia versus choice overload, to date few or possibly no attempts to identify practical ways of reducing the negative effects of choice overload.

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