Mapping the Bounds of Incoherence: How Far Can You Go and How Does It Affect Your Brand?

Kayande, Ujwal; Roberts, John H.; Lilien, Gary L.; Fong, Duncan K. H.
July 2007
Marketing Science;Jul/Aug2007, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p504
Academic Journal
Consumers often have to evaluate products comprising a combination of attributes that is not expected by them, given their beliefs about how attributes normally co-vary in the product category. Such an attribute combination implies that the claimed level of a product attribute is then different from what the consumer might infer, given the level of another attribute, resulting in what we call product incoherence. We develop a model to calibrate the effect of incoherence on perceptions, uncertainty, preference, and ultimately purchase. Our model can allow managers to determine consumers' acceptance for different positions in the multiattribute space, so they can optimize their product's positioning. Our model implies that a product that combines positively valued attributes might increase some elements of preference for the product, but if those attributes occur in unexpected combinations, incoherence will also increase uncertainty which in turn might lower other elements of preference. The net risk-adjusted preference for a product in our model accommodates both the benefit from the expected attribute levels and the uncertainty associated with incoherence. We derive implications from the model and provide an empirical test that supports those implications.


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