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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

“35 Candy for a T-Shirt?”: How a Currency’s Dissimilarity to Money Decreases Purchase Intentions

Published: May 25, 2021


Gianluca Scheidegger, University of St.Gallen, Institute of Retail Management


Money is much more than dollars, pounds or yen. The digitization of money has led to the emergence of numerous fantasy currencies (i.e., company-issued currencies for purchases within the company’s ecosystem). Billions of US dollars are exchanged using such fantasy currencies every year. Still, most pricing-related research focuses on payments using official currencies. In our article, we build upon payment mechanism and processing fluency research to predict consumers’ purchase intentions with fantasy currencies. Study 1 addresses how perceived money similarity can be predicted by semantic similarity measurements. In Studies 2 and 3, we replicate real-world purchase scenarios to show how a fantasy currency’s dissimilarity to money decreases purchase intentions through both the increase of processing fluency and the increase of pain of payment. Managerial as well as theoretical implications are discussed.


I would like to thank Marc Linzmajer for comments on the manuscript and feedback on the design of the empirical studies.