Consumer participation in the product production process offers chances for consumers and marketers alike, promising a better fit to consumer needs, a more fulfilling product relationship, and a higher willingness to pay (WTP). To exploit this potential, a key question is as to what type of participation evokes the most positive effects with respect to product attachment and commercial value. Two experimental studies in different product domains (cloth bag design and smartphone customization) explore the specific effects of self-creation versus self-design (study 1, N
= 106) and functional versus cosmetic customization (study 2, N
= 272). Study 1 highlighted the role of product attachment as a mediator of WTP and the role of experienced effort related to consumer participation as one chance to create such attachment. The specific type of consumer participation appeared to be less decisive, i.e., self-design and self-creation appeared to be equally successful for creating product attachment. Study 2 revealed cosmetic customization to be more related to product attachment, functional customization to be more related to WTP, and both in combination as most effective. In addition to a number of theoretical and practical contributions to the psychological understanding and successful design of consumer participation, the present study highlights several aspects for future exploration such as potential backfire effects of customization.
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