How (and When) the Presence of Food Decreases Enjoyment of Customer Experiences

Emily Garbinsky , Anne Kathrin Klesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Consumers frequently engage in experiences (e.g., listening to music) in the presence of delicious food. Ten studies show that the
presence (vs. absence) of such food decreases the enjoyment of a concurrent (target) experience across a wide array of consumption activities, such as listening to music, evaluating pictures, and coloring. The presence (vs. absence) of food prompts
mental imagery of consuming that food, which decreases engagement with the target experience, resulting in lower enjoyment.
Consistent with prior work on mental imagery, the effect occurs only for food that is considered tasty; when a food’s functional
benefits are highlighted, the effect disappears. In addition, the effect can be triggered in the absence of food when participants are
explicitly instructed to engage in mental imagery. The authors demonstrate the role of engagement by showing that the valence of
the target experience moderates this effect, such that the presence of food decreases enjoyment of positive experiences but
increases enjoyment of negative experiences. This work contributes to previous research on mental imagery and delayed consumption by highlighting the need to focus on how the presence of food affects concurrent experiences and provides important
managerial insights given the proliferation of tasty food to enhance customer experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-720
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Volume58
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Yann Cornil, Caroline Goukens, Nina Gros, Ana Martinovici, Nicole Mead, Steven Sweldens, and Mirjam Tuk for their feedback on previous drafts; Jordan Etkin for sharing her coloring study materials; and Megan Allen, Tim Baumann, Sophia DeFranco, Brooke Ferrer, Victoria Fratto, Jacob Matsumoto, Anna Rehagen, and Lori Tinkey for their research assistance. In addition, the authors are grateful for the helpful comments from participants at the 2019 SCP conference in Savannah, the 2019 ACR conference in Atlanta, and the 2021 Marketing in Israel virtual conference, as well as seminar participants at the Mendoza College of Business, the Rotterdam School of Management, the Kelley School of Business, and IESE Business School. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research received financial support from the Erasmus Research Institute in Management (ERIM) for data collection purposes.

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research received financial support from the Erasmus Research Institute in Management (ERIM) for data collection purposes.

Publisher Copyright:
© American Marketing Association 2021.

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