Because most conjoint studies are conducted in hypothetical situations with no consumption consequences for the participants, the extent to which the studies are able to uncover "true" consumer preference structures is questionable. Experimental economics literature, with its emphasis on incentive alignment and hypothetical blas, suggests that more realistic incentive-aligned studies result in stronger out-of-sample predictive performance of actual purchase behaviors and provide better estimates of consumer preference structures than do hypothetical studies. To test this hypothesis, the authors design an experiment with conventional (hypothetical) conditions and parallel incentive-aligned counterparts. Using Chinese dinner specials as the context, the authors conduct a field experiment in a Chinese restaurant during dinnertime. The results provide strong evidence in favor of incentive-aligned choice conjoint analysis, in that incentive-aligned choice conjoint outperforms hypothetical choice conjoint in out-of-sample predictions. To determine the robustness of the results, the authors conduct a second study that uses snacks as the context and considers only the choice treatments. This study confirms the results by providing strong evidence in favor of incentivealigned choice analysis in out-of-sample predictions. The results provide a strong motivation for conjoint practitioners to consider conducting studies in realistic settings using incentive structures that require participants to "live with" their decisions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management
- Economics and Econometrics