The Role of Generalizations in the Marketing of Consumer Goods

by Joe Kerby



Generalization, a principle developed in psychology, appears to have important implications for the student of consumer behavior. Numerous experiments conducted by psychologists provide convincing evidence that generalization does occur. The article presents a two-phased study related to the role of generalization in the marketing of consumer goods. Although the causal system remains unknown, the implications for marketers are quite clear. To begin with, a marketer should probably not expect his customers to transfer a set of attitudes developed toward one product to other products simply because these products carry the same brand name. It may be easy to overestimate the consumer's ability or willingness to employ semantic generalization. On the other hand, if the products under consideration are relatively similar in terms of physical characteristics, or are relatively unimportant in terms of dollar or emotional investment, the likelihood that such a transfer will occur should be substantially increased.

California Management Review

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Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

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