Satiation is an ongoing marketing challenge as it continually reduces a consumer's ability to enjoy a favored experience. The prevailing notion is that satiation increases with similarity; hence, consumers can best slow satiation by consuming stimuli that are as different as possible. We challenge this traditional (and intuitive) view and instead propose that stimuli can be so inherently different that consumers no longer spontaneously consider them together as part of the same experience. In such cases, promoting the similarity of the stimuli can counterintuitively slow satiation. We propose that this reversal happens because finding similarities leads the consumer to place these episodes into a single ad hoc category for the ongoing experience, thereby helping the consumer fully realize the overall variety inherent across all stimuli. Five studies establish this finding across multiple domains (music, art, and food) and provide process evidence that an ad hoc categorization for the overall experience underlies our effect. Our theory and findings provide insight into how and when similarity can help or hinder satiation, and they clarify the role of ad hoc categorization in this relationship.
- Hedonic consumption