Combining model-based analysis with phenomenological insight: A case study on hedonic product quality.

While a model-based analysis of behavior and experience is helpful in psychological research, the lack of approaches for the integration of qualitative data may lead to limited insights about essentially rich concepts. To overcome this, the present article suggests a combination of phenomenological and model-based analysis of qualitative data. We apply this approach in the context of consumer psychology and the hedonic/utilitarian model (Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982), which emphasizes that besides what consumers can do with a product (the utilitarian), it is important how they feel and who they can be through a product (the hedonic). However, despite the inherently experiential, holistic nature of hedonic product quality, its empirical study has taken an opposite way (Alba & Williams, 2013). Most studies relied on quantitative, questionnaire-based laboratory research, often highly selective and reductive, providing limited insight into everyday manifestations of hedonic and utilitarian product attributes. Our case study [N = 9] in the domain of interactive technology provided a deeper, qualitative understanding of hedonic and utilitarian product attributes and a systematic comparison of their relevance in product experience and choice. A main finding was an asymmetry between product experience and choice: Narratives of product experiences emphasized the centrality of hedonic attributes for prolonged use, attachment, and psychological need fulfillment. In contrast, product choice reports focused on utilitarian attributes and their importance for justification. Our discussion reflects on the benefits, limitations and special characteristics of the applied approach and exemplifies these by qualifications of the hedonic/utilitarian model gained through the present methodology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)