11:00 Put the Cookies in the Jar: How (and When) the Presence of Food Decreases Enjoyment of Target Experiences
Anne-Kathrin Klesse, Rotterdam School of Management
Consumers frequently engage in experiences (e.g., listening to music) in the presence of delicious food. Nine 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 only occurs 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 role of engagement is demonstrated 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. The work contributes to past 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.