The Effects of Typicality of Product Type on Schema Change

EXTENDED ABSTRACT - In the present study family brands are regarded as a category (Boush, 1991). As a category, family brands can evoke schematic evaluations of the brands without detailed attribute information. The present study examined how to change these schematic beliefs consumers have on family brands at a categorical level and proposes that the typicality of a product type in which incongruent information is presented plays an important role in inducing schematic changes on family brands.



Citation:

Sowon Ahn and Young-Won Ha (2005) ,"The Effects of Typicality of Product Type on Schema Change", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, eds. Yong-Uon Ha and Youjae Yi, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 271.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, 2005      Page 271

THE EFFECTS OF TYPICALITY OF PRODUCT TYPE ON SCHEMA CHANGE

Sowon Ahn, Sungkyunkwan University, Korea

Young-Won Ha, Sogang University, Korea

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

In the present study family brands are regarded as a category (Boush, 1991). As a category, family brands can evoke schematic evaluations of the brands without detailed attribute information. The present study examined how to change these schematic beliefs consumers have on family brands at a categorical level and proposes that the typicality of a product type in which incongruent information is presented plays an important role in inducing schematic changes on family brands.

This study defined typicality somewhat differently from the previous studies on schema change: typicality was applied to a product type and the pattern of incongruent information was manipulated separately from typicality. In the studies of schema change, the pattern of incongruent information (dispersed vs. concentrated) has been one of the major variables and has also determined the typicality of a sample. That is, when incongruent information is dispersed across samples, each sample is regarded as typical. When incongruent information is concentrated in a sample, the sample is regarded as atypical. This definition of typicality was because group membership has been determined by the characteristics of the group members. Thus typicality has been determined by the degree to which the group members share the group characteristics.

In the present study, however, we use well-known family brands as stimuli. Participants know which product is typical of which brand without any feature information. Adopting Boush’s view (1993), family brands are regarded as a category and some product types are perceived as more typical of the brand than are others. For example, a TV or a walkman is much more representative of Sony than is a notebook or a telephone.

In our study, typicality is defined somewhat differently from the previous studies; typicality is applied to a product type and the pattern of incongruent information is manipulated separately from typicality. Previously, group membership has been determined by the characteristics group members had. Thus typicality has been determined by the degree that group members shared the group characteristics. In the present study, however, we use well-known family brands as stimuli. Participants know which product is typical of which brand without any feature information. Adopting Boush’s view (1993), family brands are regarded as a category and some product types are perceived as more typical of the brand than are others. For example, a TV or a walkman is much more representative of Sony than is a notebook or a telephone.

In study 1, we examine the proposition that family-branded products vary along a continuum in the extent to which they are typical of the brand and brand categories have prototypical products. Then, in study 2, we show the effects of typicality of a product type on schema change. Both in study 1 and 2, the status of a family brand (a high vs. low quality brand) is expected to make a difference.

The results of study 1 show that various product types are different in representing the family brands. In addition, people know more about the product types of a high quality brand and the typicality of product types is more differentiated in the high quality brand (e.g., Sony) than in the low quality brand (e.g., Sanyo). Confidence in the quality judgments is also higher for Sony than for Sanyo.

In study 2, we compare two family brands by three products and present incongruent information in three different ways. In the typical condition, three products are all from the typical product type of Sony (e.g., walkman). In the atypical condition, three products are all from the atypical product type of Sony (e.g., telephone). In the mixed condition, three products are from three different product types, which differ in typicality (e.g., walkman, VCR, telephone). Because there is not a salient typical product type of Sanyo in study 1, we manipulate typicality of product types in regard of Sony. The amount of incongruent information is kept constant across the conditions and it is dispersed evenly among three products.

Because people have high confidence in their judgment on a high quality brand, we reason that schema on a high quality brand would be difficult to change. And this would be especially so, if incongruent information is presented in a typical product type of the brand. Because people’s beliefs in a high quality brand are rather firm, people would resist incongruent information presented in a typical product type of the brand. Therefore, to induce schema change in a high quality brand, it would be more effective to present incongruent information either in an atypical product type of the brand or across different product types. On the other hand, beliefs in a low quality brand are not as strong as those in a high quality brand and they would be easier to change. Therefore, it would be more effective to provide incongruent information in the product type which is perceived as relatively typical of a low quality brand, if any, or the product type which is perceived as atypical of a high quality brand.

Results confirm our predictions. First, schema change occurs differently depending on the status of family brands in the market. For Sony, schema changes either in the atypical condition or in the mixed condition. In the typical condition, there is no change. For Sanyo, however, schema changes when incongruent information is presented in the telephone, which is the typical product type of the brand, but the atypical product type of Sony.

The results suggest that for a low quality brand to change schema it needs to build up a typical product type and enhance the quality of it. This may provide an explanation for 'silver bullet effects’, which have been observed occasionally in the real market, but rarely supported in the empirical studies. The reason might be that in the real market a product not only provides incongruent information but also is established as a typical product type of the brand, while in the experiments a product provides incongruent information only.

Consumers may engage either in category-based processing or in attribute-based processing when they encounter various products of family brands.

REFERENCES

Boush, David M. (1993), "Brands as Categories," in Brand Equity and Advertising: Advertising’s Role in Building Strong Brands, David A. Aaker and Alexander L. Biel, eds. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 299-312.

Hilton, James, L. and William von Hippel (1996), "Stereotypes," Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 237-71.

Sujan, Mita and James R. Bettman (1989), "The Effects of Brand Positioning Strategies on Consumers’ Brand and Category Perceptions: Some Insights from Schema Research," Journal of Marketing Research, 26 (November), 454-67.

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Authors

Sowon Ahn, Sungkyunkwan University, Korea
Young-Won Ha, Sogang University, Korea



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6 | 2005



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