Customers sometimes judge a product by surrounding items

Posted By: Staff
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Washington, July 21 (ANI): A study on marketers has shown that consumers sometimes link unfamiliar products to surrounding items.

Authors Michelle P. Lee, of Singapore Management University, and Kwanho Suk, of Korea University, designed a series of three experiments where they asked participants for evaluations of restaurants and cars.

In the car studies, the researchers asked the participants to rate car models for how expensive or inexpensive they thought they were.

Unbeknown to the subjects, only a subset of the cars was critically important.

"We found that for cars that were completely novel to the participant, in the sense of the participant not having previously encountered them, perceptions were skewed in the direction of the context," the authors write.

"The expensive cars seemed to rub off on these novel cars so that they, too, came to be perceived as expensive, and conversely for the inexpensive cars," they add.

The researchers say that when the participants were with the cars, the salient factor seemed to be their general level of knowledge about cars.

According to them, car buffs seemed to be immune to the influence of the context, reporting similar ratings whether or not the cars appeared near expensive or inexpensive examples.

They further revealed that novices showed a contrast effect, believing the cars to be more expensive when they saw them with inexpensive ones.

"Marketers have long been wary of the negative consequences that might arise when consumers associate their products with others not aligned with the desired positioning," write the authors.

"Conventional wisdom suggests that birds of a feather should flock together. Our research cautions against over-relying on this rule of thumb. It suggests instead that this is sound advice only when the product is new to the consumer, allowing perceptions of it to be readily molded by what is around it," they write. (ANI)

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