Exclusive Or Intensive Distribution? the Signaling Role of Channel Intensity in Consumer Information Processing

Scarlett Li Lam, University of California at Berkeley
ABSTRACT - One of the firm’s strategic goals in restricting product availability is to signal quality and market demand. Such signals sometimes backfire when consumers consider them incongruous with product merits. We examine three conditions under which backfiring is likely to occur: (1) high processing motivation, (2) strong need for cognition, and (3) moderate product familiarity. We discover two hierarchical processes by which the consumer’s inferential beliefs may mediate the effect of distribution intensity signals on purchase intention. One process treats distribution exclusivity as a signal that facilitates purchases by providing diagnostic information on product target and quality. Another process treats exclusivity as a restriction that inhibits demand by increasing search cost and inducing unfavorable attribution to the firm. These two processes differentially respond to high and low distribution intensity signals.
[ to cite ]:
Scarlett Li Lam (2001) ,"Exclusive Or Intensive Distribution? the Signaling Role of Channel Intensity in Consumer Information Processing", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 204.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, 2001     Page 204

EXCLUSIVE OR INTENSIVE DISTRIBUTION? THE SIGNALING ROLE OF CHANNEL INTENSITY IN CONSUMER INFORMATION PROCESSING

Scarlett Li Lam, University of California at Berkeley

ABSTRACT -

One of the firm’s strategic goals in restricting product availability is to signal quality and market demand. Such signals sometimes backfire when consumers consider them incongruous with product merits. We examine three conditions under which backfiring is likely to occur: (1) high processing motivation, (2) strong need for cognition, and (3) moderate product familiarity. We discover two hierarchical processes by which the consumer’s inferential beliefs may mediate the effect of distribution intensity signals on purchase intention. One process treats distribution exclusivity as a signal that facilitates purchases by providing diagnostic information on product target and quality. Another process treats exclusivity as a restriction that inhibits demand by increasing search cost and inducing unfavorable attribution to the firm. These two processes differentially respond to high and low distribution intensity signals.

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