'No More' Leads to 'Want More,' but 'No Less' Leads to 'Want Less': Consumers' Counterfactual Thinking When Faced With Quantity Restriction Discounts

Document Type



Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. in the Journal of Consumer Behavior, volume 10 issue 2, 2011. Bryant users may access this article here.


John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Publication Source

Journal of Consumer Behavior


The current research examines the impact of point-of-purchase (POP) discounts on consumers’ counterfactual thinking (CFT). Study 1 reveals that consumers tend to engage in upward CFT (what might have been better) rather than downward CFT (what might have been worse) in response to POP discounts. Study 2 shows that upward CFT depends on how the discount information is framed. A discount with a lower-quantity restriction (e.g., ‘‘X % off if you buy at least Y items’’) leads consumers to counterfactually wish to buy more, but a discount with an upper-quantity restriction (‘‘X % off – limit Y items per customer’’) leads consumers to wish to buy less. Study participants in both conditions report they would buy the same POP-suggested amount, but for completely opposite reasons. In Study 3, this convergence effect in purchase quantity disappears when the maximum and minimum restrictions are lifted, suggesting that quantity restrictions in POP discounts guide quantity decisions.