Highly innovative products may offer consumers greater benefits than incrementally new products, yet they have a higher failure rate. The present research addresses the challenge faced by new products that are extremely different from existing offerings by drawing on theorizing regarding the evaluation of schema incongruity. Specifically, the authors posit that consumers’ acceptance of extremely incongruent products will be increased by strategies that facilitate cognitive flexibility and thereby the likelihood that consumers will be able to make sense of incongruent new products. The authors examine the influence of three manipulations of cognitive flexibility – positive affect, a future (vs. past) launch description, and a cognitive flexibility prime – on evaluations of new products. Results from four experiments show that these factors enhance participants’ evaluations of extremely incongruent new products by facilitating ability to make sense of the new products. Results also indicate that understanding of the benefits provided by extremely new products, rather than affect arising from resolution, leads to higher evaluations of these products.
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