Donald Lehmann

What Is It? Categorization Flexibility and Consumers' Responses to Really New Products

Coauthor(s): C. Moreau, Arthur Markman.


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To understand really new products, consumers face the challenge of constructing new knowledge structures rather simply changing existing ones. Recent research in categorization suggests that one strategy for creating representations for these new products is to use information already contained in familiar product categories. While knowledge from multiple existing categories may be relevant, little research has examined how (and if) consumers process information drawn from more than one domain. We use two experiments to demonstrate how consumers use cues from multiple categories to develop expectations about and preferences for new products. Our findings suggest that the first plausible category label provided to the consumer significantly influences their categorizations, expectations, and preferences. Only when advertisers place limits on the type of information to transfer from each existing category can consumers use information from multiple categories effectively.

Source: Journal of Consumer Research
Exact Citation:
Moreau, C., Arthur Markman, and Donald Lehmann. "What is it? Categorization Flexibility and Consumers' Responses to Really New Products." Journal of Consumer Research 27, no. 4 (March 2001): 489-98.
Volume: 27
Number: 4
Pages: 489-98
Date: 3 2001