We examine the impact of consumers' competitive tendencies on responses to comparative advertising appeals and the underlying role of schadenfreude: pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. Consistent with our theory that the depiction of others' misfortunes is compatible with more-competitive consumers' concerns for distinguishing themselves via competition, our studies show that comparative ads are associated with greater schadenfreude, as well as more favorable attitudes and a greater willingness to pay (WTP), among more- (versus less-) competitive consumers. Further results indicate that such relatively more favorable responses among consumers with greater competitive tendencies are limited to comparative ads depicting misfortunes involving brands whose choice is more deserving of failure (i.e., lower-quality brands). Importantly, even less-competitive consumers are revealed to respond favorably to comparative ads and to experience more schadenfreude when they are assured that they will not suffer the depicted misfortune.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management