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Fluent contextual image backgrounds enhance mental imagery and evaluations of experience products

  • Online shoppers rely on product images to gain information about products. Helpful product images allow a detailed mental imagery of the product and its use. Product images with a fitting contextual background, as opposed to a plain white background, increase such mental imagery and in turn product liking and purchase intent. This effect, however, is preceded by imagery fluency—the ease with which mental images come to mind in the first place. As a result, effective product images need to facilitate fluent perceptions, while also evoking fitting mental imagery. Two experimental studies confirm this pathway which links research on mental imagery with research on imagery fluency. Moreover, the experiments show that this effect of contextual backgrounds works for fitting but not for non-fitting backgrounds, better for ambiguous than unambiguous products, and for experience products, but not for search products. Online retailers could leverage contextual backgrounds in product images to enhance consumers’ evaluations of their merchandise as long as the beneficial effects via mental imagery outweigh the added photography costs.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Erik MaierORCiD, Florian DostORCiD
Chairs and Professorships:Chair of Marketing and Retail
Parent Title (English):Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services
Year of Completion:2018
First Page:207
Last Page:220
Content Focus:Academic Audience
Peer Reviewed:Yes
Rankings:VHB Ranking / C
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt