Session Summary Memory, Product Familiarity, and Categorization Influences on the Composition of Consideration Sets

Kalpesh Kaushik Desai, University of Texas at Austin
Wayne D. Hoyer, University of Texas at Austin
[ to cite ]:
Kalpesh Kaushik Desai and Wayne D. Hoyer (1994) ,"Session Summary Memory, Product Familiarity, and Categorization Influences on the Composition of Consideration Sets", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, eds. Chris T. Allen and Deborah Roedder John, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 436.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, 1994      Page 436



Kalpesh Kaushik Desai, University of Texas at Austin

Wayne D. Hoyer, University of Texas at Austin

The concept of consideration sets is important to marketers because unless the brand (or product) is included in the consideration set, it is unlikely to be chosen by the consumer and since the brands in the consideration set are perceived by consumers as "substitutable," the composition of the consideration set reflects a more precise picture of the nature of competition. This special session deliberated on issues related to the nature of consideration sets by examining how consumers consider certain products depending on the type of product category, the extent of their familiarity with the category, and the "effectiveness" of advertising.

Nedungadi (the chair) started the session by providing a framework which will help researchers to approach this topic from different perspectives. The first paper by Desai and Hoyer examined the influence of the task factor, category breadth i.e, the number of distinct types or variety of brands available in a category and product familiarity, an individual difference factor on the nature of consideration sets. The nature of consideration sets is characterized by (1) the size (number of brands in the set), (2) the variety (how different the brands in the consideration sets are), (3) the preference dispersion (is it concentrated in favor of one or two brands or dispersed equally among all the brands in the set ?), and (4) the number of reasons (product benefits, features, and attributes) used by consumer to form the consideration set. The study was conducted in the context of consumer durables (telephones and watches) and consumables (crackers and pretzels). The results showed that category breadth influenced the nature of consideration sets. However, there were no effects of product familiarity and any interaction effects of category breadth and product familiarity. The results indicate that in the growth phase of the product life cycle (when the category breadth is relatively high), it should be easier for a brand to enter the consideration set since consumers' consideration sets in such a stage (main effect of category breadth) is characterized by larger size (willing to consider more brands), greater variety (willing to consider brands of different types), more equal preference dispersion (hence the per brand preference is low). However, the use of a greater number of reasons by consumers makes it difficult for a brand to enter a consideration set in the growth stage since the brand has to perform well on a greater number of "factors" (reasons).

The second paper by Johnson and Lehmann examined the proposition that as consumer experience grows (as when moving from brands to categories), consideration sets become larger through the assimilation of relatively atypical alternatives into a set of more prototypical alternatives. These predictions were tested in the context of consumer nondurables, both at the brand level (soft drinks and candy bars) and category level (beverages, snacks, and lunch products). The results confirmed the proposition of the authors. One other interesting finding was that while set growth is reflected primarily by an increase in set size for soft drinks, the growth for beverages is reflected primarily by the inclusion of a wider range of typical to atypical alternatives. The results indicate that different models for predicting choice may be appropriate at different levels of experience.

The third paper by Holden and Hamzoui reported the findings of a field test that examined: (1) the hypothesis that brand consideration resulting from advertising is conditioned on the cues present in the ads, and on the presence of those same cues at retrieval, and (2) whether there was a relationship between brand awareness (consideration) and the "effectiveness" (recall) measures of advertising. Ads of an existing restaurant (Leonardo's) with the motives of "healthy" and "different" were printed in consecutive weeks (1 insertion a week) in a students' daily newspaper. A week later, in a short intercept survey conducted on campus, subjects tried to retrieve Leonardo's with three different cues-"restaurants," "healthy" restaurants," and "different" restaurants (a between subjects factor). Subjects' recall of restaurant ads from the newspaper, prompted recall of Leonardo's ad and "proved" recall of Leonardo's ad (provision of details) were then measured. The results revealed that though all the ad recall measures were above the baseline levels, there was no overall influence of advertising, nor any evidence of an effect in the matched ad/cue condition on brand recall (consideration). These results indicate that conceptually, the influence of an ad on brand awareness (unprompted by reference to the ad) is different from brand awareness cued by reference to the ad. The latter is labeled as ad awareness not brand awareness.

S. Ratneshwar (the discussant) brought his expertise in memory, information processing and product strategy to the area of consideration sets. He talked about the possible reasons for the ad being "ineffective" in Holden and Hamzoui paper and why the "category breadth" increases in the Desai and Hoyer paper. He concluded by highlighting the implications of these factors on nature of consideration sets.