Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When Context Matters: Consumers Link Unfamiliar Products To Surrounding Items

Date:
July 22, 2009
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Sometimes we judge a product by the company it keeps. For example, we might think a car advertised among expensive cars is also pricey -- but only if we're unfamiliar with the car, according to a new study.

Sometimes we judge a product by the company it keeps. For example, we might think a car advertised among expensive cars is also pricey—but only if we're unfamiliar with the car, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Related Articles


Authors Michelle P. Lee (Singapore Management University) and Kwanho Suk (Korea University) set out to examine a paradox of consumer behavior: Sometimes consumers are swayed by the surrounding context in which a product appears (an "assimilation effect"). In other situations, a product that appears among cheaper items seems to be more expensive ("contrast effect").

The researchers designed a series of three experiments where they asked participants for evaluations of restaurants and cars. In the car studies, participants were asked to rate car models for how expensive or inexpensive they thought they were. Unbeknownst to them, 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."

When participants were with the cars, the salient factor seemed to be their general level of knowledge about cars. 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. 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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lee et al. Disambiguating the Role of Ambiguity in Perceptual Assimilation and Contrast Effects. Journal of Consumer Research, 2009; 090623095822070 DOI: 10.1086/605299

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "When Context Matters: Consumers Link Unfamiliar Products To Surrounding Items." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090720190739.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2009, July 22). When Context Matters: Consumers Link Unfamiliar Products To Surrounding Items. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090720190739.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "When Context Matters: Consumers Link Unfamiliar Products To Surrounding Items." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090720190739.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins