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The effect of multiple brand comparisions

January 07, 2005

It's the great debate as a consumer. Should you drive all over town, visit several different stores, compare many different options, and then try to make a decision? Or, are you better off just walking into what you consider to be a pretty good store, finding essentially what you want, and buying it? Well, an article published in the December issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that regardless of what above option is better, you'll undoubtedly feel more positive about the option you pick if you take the latter approach and evaluate it singly rather than as a part of a bigger group of options.

"One of the most common forms of consumer judgment is singular evaluation; the evaluation or appraisal of singular brands. Three experiments show that singular evaluation is often characterized by a brand positivity effect--brands tend to be evaluated more positively than warranted when judged in isolation," writes Steven Posavac of University of Rochester Simon School of Business and his colleagues.

What is interesting about singular evaluation is that not only is a brand evaluated more positively when isolated than when a part of a larger group, the consumer will often be more positive about this isolated choice than even the average of a group of choices. Thus, those who shop around and tend to pick the middle of the road option may come home less excited about a choice than if they simply picked a single option.

"Consistent with our theorizing (...) focal brands belonging to very different categories were perceived to be better than the average brand in the set of best brands from which the focal brands were drawn," Posavac and his colleagues explain.

And, in addition to perception, the authors state that feeling good about the product tends to lead to purchasing it more often than simply purchasing the average option of a bigger group.
From: The Brand Positivity Effect: When Evaluation Confers Preference. STEVEN S. POSAVAC, DAVID M. SANBONMATSU, FRANK R. KARDES, GAVAN J. FITZSIMONS.

University of Chicago Press Journals

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