Paper by Rob Smith accepted for publication in the International Journal of Research in Marketing
Rob Smith his paper “If All Their Products Seem the Same, All the Parts within a Product Seem the Same Too: How Brand Homogeneity Polarizes Product Experiences” (co-authored with Kevin Keller from Dartmouth college) has been accepted for publication at the International Journal of Research in Marketing.
This research shows that when a brand has many products that seem similar, the products themselves receive more polarized reactions from consumers. That is, people tend to really like or dislike products from homogeneous brands and have more muted reactions when a brand's products seem more distinct from each other.
Many different factors affect brand homogeneity, including the different products associated with a brand, how they are made, and how they are branded. How does the perceived homogeneity of a brand’s offered products, in turn, affect consumers’ experiences with those products? Nine experiments reveal that consumers have more polarized judgments of product experiences when the sampled products are perceived to belong to more homogeneous brands. When a consumption experience is positive, the consumer has an even more positive experience when they think the sampled product came from a homogeneous brand; however, when a consumption experience is negative, the consumer has an even more negative experience when they think the sampled product came from a homogeneous brand. This polarization occurs because the individual product inherits the brand-level quality of perceived internal consistency—when a brand seems homogeneous (i.e., consisting of homogeneous products), consumers also perceive any individual product from the brand as similarly consisting of homogeneous ingredients or parts. We suggest that brand homogeneity leads to selective processing of individual product experiences, which makes products seem more coherent, products rated faster, and ratings of different product ingredients or features more highly correlated. The perception that all of the parts within the individual sampled product are homogeneous in quality polarizes judgments of the product experience.