Timestyle and Shopping Style

ABSTRACT - In this paper, we explore the relationship between consumers’ perceptions of time and their particular shopping styles. We consider four timestyle constructs: behavioral, planning, social, and temporal orientations, and six shopping style constructs: pre-purchase planning, variety-seeking, impulse buying, price search, market mavenism, and frequency of shopping trips, to develop our hypotheses. Results obtained from survey questionnaire data are reported. Based on these results, we offer some preliminary theoretical and substantive insights about consumers’ behaviors with regard to their time and shopping styles.


June Cotte and Mark Ligas (2003) ,"Timestyle and Shopping Style", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, eds. Darach Turley and Stephen Brown, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 89-95.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, 2003      Pages 89-95


June Cotte, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Mark Ligas, Fairfield University, USA


In this paper, we explore the relationship between consumers’ perceptions of time and their particular shopping styles. We consider four timestyle constructs: behavioral, planning, social, and temporal orientations, and six shopping style constructs: pre-purchase planning, variety-seeking, impulse buying, price search, market mavenism, and frequency of shopping trips, to develop our hypotheses. Results obtained from survey questionnaire data are reported. Based on these results, we offer some preliminary theoretical and substantive insights about consumers’ behaviors with regard to their time and shopping styles.


North American consumers increasingly feel time-stressed and time-pressed. Whether consumers in fact have less time or not, they certainly feel as if they have less free time (Robinson and Godbey, 1997; Nowotney, 1994; Schor, 1991). Many societal trends appear to be influenced by this perceived time crunch (Bluedorn, 1998; Hochschild, 1997; Kaufman and Lane, 1997; Schor, 1991). One particular domain that has been affected by consumers’ perceived time shortages is retail shopping habits and patterns (Dellaert et al., 1998; Kaufman and Lane, 1996). In this study we examine the impact of individuals’ perception and use of time on various shopping styles and behaviors.

Each individual has a unique way of perceiving, thinking about, and planning their time, or a timestyle (Cotte and Ratneshwar, 2000). In a very real sense, people’s unique perceptions of time can be said to pervade all facets of their decision-making and behavior. This study examines when timestyle and shopping style intersect; it examines how one’s perception and use of time impacts various shopping strategies. Although the idea that time perspective can influence the traditional stages of consumer behavior has been previously put forth (Graham, 1981) our research makes a unique contribution by merging two streams of researchBresearch on temporal perception and behavior and the various literatures that examine shopping behaviors. An important goal of this research is to offer a theoretical explanation of the influence of temporal variables on consumer shopping behavior. Further, our work offers substantive insights about consumers’ perceptions of time and how a particular timestyle might direct shopping behaviors.

We organize our paper as follows. We first briefly define and discuss the constructs involved in timestyle and shopping style. We then develop hypotheses for the relationships between individual timestyle dimensions and shopping behaviors. Finally, we test our hypotheses using survey data, and review the contribution of our research for understanding retail shopping behavior.


Prior work in this area (Cotte and Ratneshwar 2000) suggests that timestyle is a multidimensional construct and that individuals vary across several different dimensions in how they perceive and behave with respect to time. Although there are many ways one can examine how an individual perceives time, we believe that four dimensions in particular are important for helping us understand shopping behavior and style.

Behavioral Orientation

The first dimension on which people might differ is their behavioral orientation: whether one prefers monochronic or polychronic behavior (Hall, 1959; 1976; 1983; Hall and Hall, 1987; Feldman and Hornik, 1981; Graham, 1981; Kaufman, Lane and Lindquist, 1991). Although Hall’s work is complex and generally cross cultural, his ideas have been simplified and made relevant to marketing research by Kaufman et al. (1991), among others. Treating time monochronically means emphasizing one thing at a time, and proceeding through tasks linearly. Treating time as polychronic means using time for more than one purpose at once, like watching TV and reading, or working on one thing and jumping to another task, then going back to the first one. This monochronic / polychronic distinction has relevance in the shopping domain, as we will examine below (see also Kaufman and Lane, 1996).

Planning Orientation

Planning orientation is how an individual perceives, organizes and thinks about planning his or her time. People may be differentiated by planning orientation (Bond and Feather, 1988; Calabresi and Cohen, 1968; Cotte and Ratneshwar, 2000.) The major aspect of planning orientation we examine is the continuum from a highly analytical style to a less concrete, spontaneous orientation. Analytic planning is akin to the highly structured planning suggested in many time management seminars and training courses, while spontaneity, at the other extreme, might simply mean trying to avoid planning, or refusing to make plans at all.

Social Orientation

The third dimension on which people differ in their perception of time is social orientation: time alone versus time with/for others (Hall, 1976; Kaufman and Lane, 1990; Manrai and Manrai, 1995; Rhee, Uleman, Lee and Roman, 1995). This social orientation dimension means that time is categorized differently, depending on the priority given to alone time vs. others time. The motivations to categorize a unit of time as for, or with, others can be either voluntary (someone intrinsically preferring time with others over time spent alone) or obligatory ("this is time I should spend with my husband").

Temporal Orientation

A final dimension of timestyle is the relative significance individuals attribute to the past, present or the futureCthis is referred to as temporal orientation (Cottle, 1976; Holbrook, 1993; Jones, 1988). This emphasis helps create an individual’s unique personality (Graham, 1981; Kaufman and Lane, 1990; Philipp, 1992). This is not to say that, for example, future-oriented individuals will only consider the importance of the future in their lives, but this temporal emphasis helps us differentiate individuals based on the relative importance they give to the three temporal zones (Cottle, 1976). For example, being oriented to the past is conceptualized as nostalgia, defined generally by Holbrook as "a longing for the past, a yearning for yesterday, or a fondness for possessions and activities associated with days of yore" (Holbrook, 1993, p. 245).


We believe that an individual also has a shopping style and we also conceptualize this as a multidimensional construct, consisting of both trait and behavioral dimensions. The dimensions of shopping style that we examine in this exploratory study include amount of price search (Urbany, Dickson and Kalapurakal, 1996), variety-seeking (Menon and Kahn, 1995; Steenkamp and Baumgartner, 1992; Van Trijp, Hoyer and Inman, 1996), impulse buying (Rook and Fisher, 1995), market mavenism (Feick and Price, 1987), the use of pre-purchase planning (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer and Burton, 1995; Moore-Shay and Lutz, 1988), and finally, frequency of shopping trips (Kaufman and Lane, 1996). Although some have argued that these variables are context-dependent (see Steenkamp and Baumgartner, 1992; Menon and Kahn, 1995) we believe that people do have a general trait shopping style. Thus, for example, in the services domain delays in one’s waiting time (Taylor, 1994) may lead to specific behavioral reactions, e.g. tapping one’s foot, or mumbling under one’s breath. As a consequence, a consumer’s shopping style may be heightened or altered in experiences or situations where context-dependent behaviors occur, such as waiting in line.

Price Search

Price search is the effort expended in comparing prices (Urbany, Dickson and Kalapurakal, 1996). Researchers generally conceive of price search as price comparison between stores, an approach we also adopt in this research. We believe price search is part of one’s shopping style, an idea first suggested by Urbany et al. (1996, p. 101) "early search patterns become habitual, perhaps part of a shopping persona." The customer makes it a point to search for the most appropriate price, even if it means going elsewhere. Therefore, both planning and actual execution, i.e. behavior, become important.


Variety-seeking shopping behavior is when a consumer tries a different brand in a category simply for the "utility inherent in variation," that is, not because the new brand has better attributes, but because the change feels good (Van Trijp et al., 1996). Variety-seeking sometimes leads to permanent brand switching, and therefore is important to managers. Van Trijp et al. (1996) point out that true variety-seeking behavior is intrinsically motivated, not driven by external pressures. For example, switching brands because one has a coupon is not considered true variety-seeking behavior (see also Hoyer and Ridgway, 1984; McAlister and Pessemier, 1982). Variety-seeking is thought to be the result of boredom, a need for stimulation, and curiosity (Van Trijp et al., 1996). Again, the customer follows a specific plan, based on the need for something different, and as a consequence makes a new or different purchase.

Impulse Buying

After reviewing the psychological literature, Rook and Fisher (1995) conclude that impulse buying tendencies can been thought of as a consumer trait. This trait reflects a "consumer’s tendency to buy spontaneously, unreflectively, immediately, and kinetically" (Rook and Fisher, 1995, p. 306). We included this shopping style in our investigation because the trait includes, by definition, many temporally related ideas that could be influenced by one’s timestyle. Impulse buying connotes a hasty or quick decision to purchase, a behavior, often influenced by the pressure of one’s time constraints or even social obligations.

Market Mavenism

Market mavens make themselves feel good by gathering information about products, prices, stores and other shopping details and then relaying this information to others (Feick and Price, 1987). Mavens learn about products earlier, and enjoy informing others about their discoveries. Social interaction plays an important role in the maven’s behavior, thus his or her shopping style seems intrinsically related to his or her preference for spending time in general with other people.

Pre-Purchase Planning

We conceptualize pre-purchase planning behavior as actions taken before the shopping trip to help the consumer plan the shopping trip. We operationalize this planning behavior as making shopping lists before shopping and going through the house to check what is needed before shopping (Lichtenstein, Netemeyer and Burton, 1995; Moore-Shay and Lutz, 1988). This often occurs as a result of having to coordinate things for others, like family and friends. Pre-purchase planning, by definition, also involves planning for future events.

Frequency of Shopping Trips

Finally, we believe that an important shopping style variable may be the frequency with which one shops. As we will discuss below, we posit that this outcome should be inextricably connected to one’s timestyle in several important ways.


The behavioral orientation dimension of timestyle (polychronic or monochronic behavior) involves simultaneous behaviorBdoing two things at once or hopping back and forth between two tasks. "Two or more activities are performed within the same time block, apparently at the same time" (Kaufman et al., 1991, pg. 393). Kaufman and her colleagues have found that polychronic time use is associated with less role overload, and we hypothesize that this is because polychronic people enjoy more stimulation (i.e. have a higher optimal stimulation level). Optimal stimulation level has been shown to predict variety-seeking behavior (Steenkamp and Baumgartner, 1992). Thus we posit:

H1: Polychronic shoppers (versus monochronic shoppers) are more likely to engage in variety-seeking behaviors.

Polychronic time use may also influence how an individual blocks out time. Relatively more polychronic people may lump various tasks together into a block of time to try and achieve more simultaneously, to get more tasks done at once while shopping (Kaufman and Lane, 1996). It is therefore likely that less individual trips to the store will be necessary, and so:

H2: Polychronic shoppers (versus monochronic shoppers) will make less shopping trips per week.

Comparing prices from one store to another requires a focus on shopping for the best price, even if it means more time spent on this one shopping task. Polychronic people try to engage in multiple tasks, thus a single focus on best price may be unappealing, because they are less likely to be able to combine activities together in one unit of time. Concerning the behavioral orientation dimension of timestyle, we thus posit:

H3: Polychronic shoppers (versus monochronic shoppers) will engage in less price search behavior.

The planning orientation dimension of timestyle involves a continuum from analytic planning to spontaneity. Analytic planning includes the use of detailed temporal categories (as an extreme example, planning a day in 15 minute intervals) whereas spontaneity allows for a great deal of flexibility with one’s time. This planning orientation dimension should be related to shopping style in a variety of ways. For example, impulse buying has been described as "spontaneous and unreflective" and impulse shoppers are theorized to use more "open" shopping lists (Rook and Fisher, 1995). In the mental budgeting literature, researchers have shown that rational planners are less likely to give in to an impulse purchase (Heath and Soll, 1996). One might argue that rational planning tendencies extend to the temporal domain, so that analogously, analytic planners, who tend to use specific planning tools, like lists and schedules, would be less likely to impulse buy. Thus:

H4: Analytic (versus spontaneous) planners are less likely to impulse buy.

Research has theorized that better time managers have more free time and therefore engage in more price search activities (Urbany et al., 1996). By definition, analytic planners are extremely focused on time management and planning time, and they should therefore have more free time for price search behavior, and so:

H5: Analytic (versus spontaneous) planners are more likely to engage in price search.

Analytic planning, by its nature, requires written plans and organization. Pre-purchase planning involves making shopping lists and methodically checking the house before leaving for a shopping trip, which is quite an organized approach to shopping.

H6: Analytic (versus spontaneous) planners are more likely to undertake pre-purchase planning.

Analytic planners plan their time in discrete, well-organized units. They are less flexible with their schedule, and try to stick to their plans. Therefore, store visits will be as planned as possible. Analytic planners may accomplish their shopping in one well-planned trip a week, while holistic planners may frequently stop in to pick up a few items on the spur of the moment. Thus:

H7: Analytic (versus spontaneous) planners will make less shopping trips per week .

Analytic planners may also tend to be rigid in their planning. We previously argued that these individuals engage in price search, are less likely to impulse buy, and undertake more planning before they shop. It seems unlikely that these sorts of planners would engage in variety-seeking behaviorsBwe believe it would be more likely for them to stick to the plan of their shopping trip. Thus, our final hypothesis regarding planning orientation is:

H8: Analytic (versus spontaneous) planners are less likely to be variety seekers.

The third timestyle dimension we discussed above is social orientation. Individuals vary on their preference for spending time alone or with other people (Zerubavel, 1981; Rhee et al., 1995). "Market mavens" are those who gather shopping knowledge because they want to share it with others (Feick and Price, 1987). Thus, it is likely social orientation plays a role in this "mavenism." We propose:

H9: Socially oriented (versus alone oriented) individuals are more likely to be market mavens.

We assume that the socially-oriented individual will be more likely to shop with others, and will shop for recreation with others, rather than alone. The presence of other people may influence both impulse buying and pre-purchase planning, because social influences may lead to a quick, on the spot decision, with little or no planning. Thus:

H10: Socially oriented (versus alone oriented) individuals are more likely to impulse buy.

H11: Socially oriented (versus alone oriented) individuals are less likely to engage in pre-purchase planning.

The final dimension of timestyle is temporal orientation. Temporal orientation to the past, present or future helps to shape one’s personality. Future orientation in particular has been related to one’s attitudes and actions towards productsBfuture oriented individuals actively seek opportunity (Bergadaa, 1990). Future temporal orientation has also been shown to be related to self esteem, optimism and a sense of purpose and direction in life (Bond and Feather, 1983; Feather and Bond, 1988; Philipp, 1992). In the shopping domain, this active seeking of opportunity and a sense of purpose may be analogous to planning out purchases. Thus:

H12: The more future oriented an individual, the more he or she will engage in pre-purchase planning.


Data Collection

Our research examines the relationship between timestyle and shopping style through a survey of adult consumers in the Eastern United States. As part of a course, undergraduate students enrolled in marketing courses from two large state universities were recruited to distribute surveys to non-student respondents. The intention of the data collection procedures was to focus on respondents who make a majority of household purchase decisions- e.g., parents, siblings, relatives or family friends living on their own or heading their own households, etc., and who consequently have intact timestyles and shopping styles. Each undergraduate took up to three surveys, with accompanying addressed and stamped envelopes, to distribute to family members and family acquaintances. Each survey was coded with a three-digit number, which was in turn matched to the undergraduate who distributed the survey. The undergraduates distributed 360 surveys, of which 251 were returned, generating a response rate of 69.7%. Of these responses, 68% claimed to visit at least two stores during one shopping trip, 51.2% claimed to spend at least one half hour in a grocery store during a normal trip, and 60.6% had at least one child living at home. Females constituted 68.3% of the responses in this convenience sample.


The survey consisted of eight pages including a cover letter explaining the research. The survey contained items measuring the four timestyle dimensions and the six shopping style dimensions. The construct measures were 5-point, multi-item scales, anchored by strongly disagree and strongly agree. In order to avoid patterned responses, certain items were reverse-coded. The majority of measures used in this study were from previously published research, although in some instances minor wording changes were necessary in order to make an item fit with the current research agenda. The last page of the survey consisted of closed-end questions pertaining to the respondent’s allotment of time and money when shopping (how many stores visited, how much time spent in the store, how often one shops per week, and how much one spends per week), and also general demographic information about him/herself (e.g., number of children at home, sex, education, age, total household income).



We assessed scale validity for each measure looking at the item inter-correlations and factor analyzing the scales. Because timestyle is a relatively unknown construct, Table 1 lists the items used to make up each timestyle dimension measure as well as the exploratory factor analysis loadings, and coefficient alphas obtained for each dimension.

The four items measuring behavioral orientation are the Polychronic Attitude Index (Kaufman et al., 1991). This assessed the respondent’s attitudes about carrying out one task at a time versus multiple tasks simultaneously. Results from an exploratory factor analysis on this construct’s measures indicated that all items loaded well on one factor, suggesting unidimensionality. We performed a second factor analysis specifying only one factor (DeVellis, 1991). All four items had factor loadings greater than .50. We subjected the items to a reliability analysis; the resulting coefficient alpha was .75. The higher one’s score on this scale, the more polychronic one is.

The planning orientation dimension attempted to capture the respondent’s preference for setting up an orderly schedule of events. Six items focused on issues such as how the respondent felt about postponing activities, doing activities on the spur of the moment, and making daily lists. Additionally, they accounted for how time affects one’s scheduling routine (Block et al., 1984; Calabresi and Cohen, 1968), and also whether or not the respondent follows a daily routine, organizes tasks, or leaves things to the last minute (Bond and Feather, 1988). We also included additional items to probe issues pertaining to keeping a routine schedule, falling behind, varying one’s schedule at the spur of the moment, and making plans at home versus at work. A factor analysis of the planning style construct items yielded a one factor solution, attesting to the unidimensionality of the scale. A second factor analysis specifying only one factor showed that all six items hadfactor loadings greater than, or equal to .60. A reliability analysis resulted in a coefficient alpha of .76. Higher scores on this scale indicate the respondent is relatively more analytic (versus spontaneous) in planning.

Seven items comprised the social orientation measure. All the items were from the first author’s prior work, except for a measure of the respondent’s preference for working in a team versus working alone, which was added for this study. The items focused on the respondent’s preference for being alone versus being with others and how being in one of these two situations makes the respondent feel. The resulting coefficient alpha was .85, and a factor analysis of the items resulted in a one factor solution, with loadings on the one factor .60 or higher. Scoring highly on this scale indicates a relative preference for spending time with others over spending time alone.



We used four items to measure the temporal orientation construct. The purpose of this construct was to identify the respondent’s mindset as being more future-oriented. The items focused on one’s acts in the future (Block et al., 1984) and one’s thoughts about planning for the future (Calabresi and Cohen, 1968). The results of a factor analysis on the items showed that one factor explained the variance well. We performed a second factor analysis specifying only one factor, and all four items had factor loadings greater than .60. We subjected the items to a reliability analysis and obtained a coefficient alpha of .61.

The pre-purchase planning construct consisted of two items that examined the respondent’s actions before going shopping, including making lists (Moore-Shay and Lutz, 1988) and going through the house in order to figure out what he/she needs (r=.47, p<.00).

Three items, created by Van Tripp et al. (1996), measured the variety-seeking construct. The items focused on issues pertaining to the respondent’s level of caution when choosing purchases, and one’s aptitude for switching to other brands. When factor analyzed, the items revealed a unidimensional structure, accounting for 77% of the variance (alpha=.68; factor loadings all above .70).

The impulse buying items focused on the respondent’s willingness to make purchases on the spur of the moment. Eight items covered issues pertaining to acting without previous intention (Moore-Shay and Lutz, 1988) and having a "just do it" attitude (Rook and Fisher, 1995). All items loaded on one factor, with coefficient alpha of .89; factor loadings ranged from .65 to .81.

The price search construct measurements came from two items created by Urbany et al. (1996). They focused on whether or not one generally compares store prices, and whether or not one compares the prices of fruits and vegetables from store to store (r=.51, p<.00).

Six items, taken from the work by Feick and Price (1987), were used for the market maven scale. These items focused on the respondent’s willingness and interest in gathering and sharing information with others. As expected, a factor analysis on these items showed a unidimensional solution (coefficient alpha=.88; one factor loadings all above .60).


Table 2 shows the correlational results between the timestyle dimensions and the shopping style dimensions.

Behavioral orientation is positively correlated with variety-seeking, and negatively correlated with deal proneness, price search, and the number of shopping trips per week. Relatively more polychronic people variety-seek while shopping, make less shopping trips per week, and are less likely to undertake extensive price comparisons. These results support H1-H3.

A relatively more analytic timestyle is positively associated with pre-purchase planning, supporting H6. However, there was no relationship between planning orientation and price search, as expected from H5. The more analytic one’s planning style, the less one is likely to make impulse purchases, offering support for H4. We did not find support for H7, but supporting H8, we found that variety-seekers are less likely to be analytic planners. An unexpected finding was the positive association of an analytic planning orientation and market mavenism.

The more one prefers to spend time with others, rather than alone, the greater the likelihood of impulse buying while shopping, supporting H10. Socially oriented individuals are more likely to be market mavens, as predicted in H9, and generally undertake less pre-purchase planning, supporting H11.

Finally, we found no relationship between temporal orientation and pre-purchase planning, as we expected in H12. However, an unexpected finding was that the more future oriented a consumer, the less shopping trips per week they take.

We also looked at the relationships between timestyle and shopping style by regressing the timestyle dimensions onto the various shopping styles. Results confirmed our bivariate correlational results, and demonstrated that timestyle taken as a whole, does influence shopping styles, however, the amount of variance explained by timestyle is low.


Our study has the potential to illuminate the role timestyle plays in consumer shopping behavior, a topic previously overlooked in consumer research. The exploration of timestyle offers consumer researchers the opportunity to study an aspect of the consumer that pervades his or her behavior and decision-making. From a more substantive perspective, retailers and other marketers can use knowledge of the link between temporal and shopping styles to target appeals for time-related offerings like one-stop shopping (Kaufman and Lane, 1996) and on-line shopping.

One of our interesting findings is that polychronic people, those more likely to combine multiple activities simultaneously, actually do less when it comes to traditional shopping behaviors. While variety-seekers, these consumers are less likely to engage in price search, and they make less shopping trips per week. American customers are increasingly facing time pressures and adopting innovative strategies for dealing with time pressures (Hochschild, 1997; Kaufman and Lane, 1996; Schor, 1991)Bthus it is likely that polychronic behavior will increase, not decrease over time. This has implications for understanding changes in retail formats. For example, we can now posit a theoretical reason for why traditional department stores seem more and more like dinosaurs in a world increasingly populated with one-stop shopping centers. Simply put, polychronic people reduce their traditional shopping behaviors. As time pressures mount, polychronicity becomes more common, leading to less traditional shopping patterns and the development of more hybrid stores, where a pharmacy morphs into a small grocery store and Walmart carries everything from lawn and garden to beauty supplies. More speculatively, increased polychronicity, with its attendant reduction of shopping trips, bodes well for increased on-line transactions.

Our finding that market mavens are more analytic in their planning styles suggests that these socially driven individuals are perhaps also driven to be "correct" in the information they pass on to others. Planning time quite carefully may allow these shoppers the opportunity to carefully assess stores, prices, and other features of the retail environment before they share information with others. This adds another layer of understanding of this important opinion leader.

From a retailing perspective, our finding that social orientation correlates with impulse-buying could justify an actionable merchandising strategy. Knowing this association, retailers could structure displays so that those who are likely to shop with friends would be more attracted, for example, to displays that encourage shoppers to examine items and get others’ feedback. Socially-oriented displays could thus encourage the impulse-buying tendency.

In this research, we used the concept of an individual timestyle to explore differences in shopping behaviors due to individual perceptions and treatments of time. With our data, we offer some preliminary explanations for emerging retail trends and behaviors, and posit an important role for temporal perception in the retail domain. Future research could explore the positioning and segmentation opportunities possible using timestyle as a variable, or more ambitiously could place our current American perceptions of time in a more historically situated context.


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June Cotte, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Mark Ligas, Fairfield University, USA


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6 | 2003

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Featured papers

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Influence of Visual Crowding and Space Between Products on Consumer Choice

Ana Scekic, HEC Paris, France
Selin Atalay, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Germany
Cathy Liu Yang, HEC Paris, France
Peter Ebbes, HEC Paris, France

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The Ex-Money Effect: When and Why People Feel Connected to Outcomes that Involve Money They Previously Had

Charis Li, University of Florida, USA
Yanping Tu, University of Florida, USA

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Predicting Consumer Brand Recall and Choice Using Large-Scale Text Corpora

Zhihao Zhang, University of California Berkeley, USA
Aniruddha Nrusimha, University of California Berkeley, USA
Ming Hsu, University of California Berkeley, USA

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