Is it worth focusing on product details? How consumers use abstract product information in direct response to product alternatives
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This paper proposes a model showing how response self-relevance shapes the use of abstract product attributes in the consumer response (i.e., evaluation and choice) to a set of product alternatives perceived directly (i.e., with no accompanying verbal message). The related existing literature scarcely studied the above relationship, focusing instead on consumer response to a verbal message about a single product alternative. The model developed in this paper is examined in multi-stage research, including the main survey on product evaluation and choice, and a preliminary study, using Exploratory Factor Analysis to identify the structure of direct product perception. The results suggest that, for the high self-relevance response (i.e., choosing alternatives for own usage), consumers who process more analytically respond more consistently with the evaluation of abstract attributes. On the other hand, for the low self-relevance response (i.e., mere evaluation of product alternatives), consumers who process more analytically respond more consistently with the evaluation of attributes perceived as important. This paper extends the current views on the relationship between self-relevance and the use of abstract attributes into the domain of the consumer direct response to a set of product alternatives. The findings may support managers in allocating their focus on product attributes between the abstract ones and those perceived as important.
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