The “Commitment Projection” Effect: When Multiple Payments for a Product Affect Defection from a Service

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Many service providers offer supplementary products related to their ongoing services (e.g., fitness centers offer fitness smartwatches). In seven studies, the authors show that the payment method for such supplementary products (multiple payments vs. a single lump sum) affects customers’ tendency to defect from the provider’s core service over time. Specifically, when customers pay for add-ons in multiple payments—provided that (1) they perceive the add-on as being bundled with the core service and (2) the payment period has an end point—they are initially less likely to defect from the service provider than when they pay in a single payment. Over time, however, as payments are made, this gap closes, such that defection intentions under the two payment methods eventually become similar. The authors propose that this phenomenon reflects “commitment projection,” wherein a decrease in customers’ commitment to the add-on product over time is projected onto their commitment to the service provider. These findings carry important managerial implications, given that many service providers offer add-on products in multiple-payment plans and that customers’ defection decisions substantially affect firms’ profitability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-861
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • commitment
  • customer defection
  • multiple payments


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