Consumer resistance to innovation: a systematic literature review

Jana, Iman, Liu, Hongfei and Malhotra, Neeru (2022) Consumer resistance to innovation: a systematic literature review. In: Academy of Marketing Conference 2022, Marketing: The Fabric of Life; 05-07 July 2022, Huddersfield, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The increasing pace of technological evolution has completely revolutionized consumers? lives with novel innovations (e.g., smart devices, cutting-edge AI applications). However, failures seem to be common among innovations, a key cause of which has been identified as consumer resistance to innovation (CRI). CRI is defined as ?the resistance offered by consumers to an innovation, either because it poses potential changes from a satisfactory status quo or because it conflicts with their belief structure? (Ram & Sheth, 1989, p. 6). Despite four decades of research on CRI, understanding of this phenomenon in the literature remains incomprehensive and fragmented (Rodríguez Sánchez et al. 2020). This could be attributed to the excessive research attention of innovation research in consumer markets being devoted to successful adoption than on failures (Ram, 1987). As such, little is done to integrate knowledge and synthesize existing literature to provide a comprehensive understanding of the concept of CRI. This raises an urgent call for the state-of-the-art knowledge that could help academics as well as practitioners to understand CRI in a more systematic way. In this respect, this study aims to address three key research questions: 1) What is the current state-of-the-art literature on CRI?; 2) What are the various theoretical underpinnings that govern empirical studies in the field?; and 3) What are the potential future research avenues that need to be explored? through a systematic literature review (SLR) of 220 journal articles published between 1987 and 2021 that focus on CRI. Through the SLR, this study develops an integrative framework to provide a holistic understanding of the various theoretical and contextual perspectives on CRI existing in the literature. In particular, the framework consolidates the identified four themes - theme 1: conceptualization of CRI ? types (passive and active innovation resistance; Talke & Heidenreich, 2014), forms (rejection, opposition, and postponement; Szmigin & Foxall, 1998), and levels (individual, group, and collective and societal level); theme 2: antecedents of CRI ? consumer, innovation and market-related factors (Ram 1987); theme 3: individual and contextual factors of CRI (Laukkanen, 2016; Matsuo et al., 2018) and theme 4: marketing strategies overcoming CRI - product, communication, pricing, market, and coping strategies (Ram & Sheth, 1989). Also, the SLR sheds light on the multiple theories (e.g., innovation resistance theory, Ram & Sheth, 1989; behavioral reasoning theory, Westaby, 2005) governing the various mechanisms of CRI phenomenon. Finally, the SLR proposes managerial insights and new research directions within research methods and contexts (e.g., qualitative elicitation studies, experiments, social and smart innovations); passive innovation resistance (e.g., how innovation characteristics of complexity, lack of relative advantage may contribute to passive innovation resistance); active innovation resistance (e.g., examining the effects of smartness characteristics on active innovation resistance); forms of CRI (e.g., examining the effects of consumer characteristics- lack of motivation, lack of self-efficacy on the three forms of CRI); group resistance (e.g., investigate the influence of functional and psychological barriers as perceived by group members) and overcoming CRI (e.g., investigating the effectiveness of marketing strategies according to consumers? characteristics and categories).

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