Difficult to evaluate product features: Why credible branding matters

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Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference, 2009, pp. 1 - 9
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This paper examines how difficulty in evaluation affects the role of features in consumer choice. Hsees (1996) work on evaluability of attributes suggests that hard-to-evaluate features become more (less) important in joint (separate) evaluation tasks where other feature levels are (not) present. Extending this, we examine what happens when difficulty in evaluating features remains even when the benchmark of another feature level is present. Using signalling theory, we argue that consumers utilise brand information, but the extent to which this occurs depends on feature evaluability. Preliminary data shows support for the hypothesised effects, suggesting credible branding generates value in terms of an overall effect on product assessment, but can additionally counteract the effects of hard-to-evaluate features being discounted in choice.
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