Judging brands

July 18, 2005

In the September 2005 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research researchers examine the effect of marketplace stereotypes on consumers. Of particular interest is how consumers use their perceptions to make purchasing decisions. Shashi Matta and Valerie Folkes (University of Southern California) explain that "stereotypes can have both positive and negative effects on consumers' perceptions of service providers, as well as of within-brand similarity and across-brand differentiation."

Given that the primary focus of marketing and advertising is to create a name for one's brand and the similarities across the brand while demonstrating a differentiation from other brands, this research is particularly revealing: "Firms hope consumers will use experience with one product or service provider to form expectancies that the firm's other products or services will be of similar high quality (within-brand similarity)," Matta and Folkes explain.

The authors note an interesting finding from their research with regard to how consumers evaluate a negative experience with a firm. A singular negative experience does not weigh negatively on the overall perception of the firm. The authors explain that this may serve as a suggestion for diversification within firms: "Hence, the potential benefits from consumers' evaluations offer an incentive for services to increase diversity in their workforces."
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Inferences about the Brand from Counter-Stereotypical Service Providers. Shashi Matta and Valerie Folkes. Journal of Consumer Research. September 2005.

University of Chicago Press Journals

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