Special Session Summary Learning and Recall of Brand Associations: the Role of Competition Between Associations



Citation:

Stijn M. J. van Osselaer (1999) ,"Special Session Summary Learning and Recall of Brand Associations: the Role of Competition Between Associations", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Bernard Dubois, Tina M. Lowrey, and L. J. Shrum, Marc Vanhuele, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 286.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 1999      Page 286

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

LEARNING AND RECALL OF BRAND ASSOCIATIONS: THE ROLE OF COMPETITION BETWEEN ASSOCIATIONS

Stijn M. J. van Osselaer, University of Chicago, U.S.A.

SESSION OVERVIEW

Conventional marketing thought suggests that associations between a brand (cue) and benefit (outcome) are strengthened whenever they co-occur, irrespective of other cues or outcomes. The papers in this special session show that formation and recall of brand associations is subject to "competition" between cues and between outcomes. The strength of brand associations and the recall of brand associates depend on the presence of other brand cues or brand associates during learning. This influences the value consumers place on brand names during product evaluation and choice.

Van Osselaer, Janiszewski, and Alba showed that brand-quality associations can "block" other associations between other cues and quality. Experiment 1 showed that when consumers learned about a brand name and quality information before they encountered information about an intrinsic attribute, consumers failed to learn the importance of the intrinsic attribute for product quality. This cue competition effect occurred despite the fact that brand names, in contrast to intrinsic attributes, do not have a direct causal influence on quality. The effect reduced the predicted quality of (generic) products containing the intrinsic attribute but not carrying the blocking brand. Experiment 2 showed that the effect was not due to reduced attention to the intrinsic attribute information. Experiment 3 provided evidence against a currently popular explanation based on normative causal reasoning. Results were consistent with an associative learning explanation. Experiment 4 replicated the blocking phenomenon when both cues were brand names and consumers learned from direct experience (tasting baked goods)Can interesting finding given previous findings of "non-competitive" learning from experience by Baeyens and colleagues.

Warlop, Baeyens, Lerouge, and Vanhouche tested boundary conditions of competitive versus non-competitive learning from experience. They contrasted influence of brand cues on predicted quality of future expriences (cf. van Osselaer et al.) with situations in which (1) the cues themselves were characteristics of the experience (flavors) instead of brands, or (2) subjects evaluated actual experiences instead of predicting future experiences. Results showed cue competition for both types of cues (brands and flavors) but only for quality predictions. For both cue-types, no significant competition was found for evaluations of actual experiences. In fact, brand cues did not have any significant influence on experience evaluations (i.e., brands did not actually make drinks taste better or worse).

Finally, Meyvis and Janiszewski demonstrated that extensions from brands with broad product portfolios may be preferred to those from narrow brands because the brand-benefit associations of broad brands suffer less output competition from strong brand-category associations during retrieval. Experiment 1 showed that subjects preferred an extension from a broad brand (carrying three dissimilar products) to that of a narrow brand (carrying three similar products), even though the extension category was more similar to the narrow brand’s products. Experiment 2 supported the hypothesis that the effect of brand breath was due to greater accessibility of the broad brand’s benefit associations by showing that the brand breath effect disappeared when the extension choice and provision of information about each brand’s current products were not separated in time. Experiment 3 supported the hypothesis that the brand breadth effect was mediated by differential accessibility of the brands’ benefit associations by showing that the effect depended on the desirability of the brands’ benefit associations in the extension category.

In sum, these three papers suggest that learning and retrieval of brand associations are subject to competition between associations. They show that competition between associations is a robust phenomenon that has significant influence on product evaluation and choice. Given this influence and our limited knowledge about its mechanisms and boundary conditions, competition between associations provides a promising area for future research.

PRESENTATIONS

 

CUE COMPETITION IN LEARNING OF BRAND-BENEFIT ASSOCIATIONS

Stijn M. J. Van Osselaer, University of Chicago, U.S.A.

Chris A. Janiszewski, University of Florida, U.S.A.

Joseph W. Alba, University of Florida, U.S.A.

 

PAVLOVIAN VS. HEBBIAN ACCOUNTS OF LEARNING PRODUCT ASSOCIATIONS THROUGH CONSUMPTION EXPERIENCE

Luc Warlop, K. U. Leuven, Belgium

Frank Baeyens, K. U. Leuven, Belgium

Davy Lerouge, K. U. Leuven, Belgium

Wouter Vanhouche, K. U. Leuven, Belgium

 

COMPETITION BETWEEN MULTIPLE BRAND ASSOCIATES: DISSIMILAR BRAND EXTENSIONS CAN STRENGTHEN A BRAND’S POSITIONING

Tom Meyvis, University of Florida, U.S.A.

Chris A. Janiszewski, University of Florida, U.S.A.

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Authors

Stijn M. J. van Osselaer, University of Chicago, U.S.A.



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 1999



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