Catching consumers by surprise

Date of publication: September 14, 2003


Category management is mainly applied within food categories. Very few examples can be found of categories that are managed across food and non-food products. Although the role of the shopping environment may be much more important in the buying process of consumer durables, few efforts have been made to gain insight in the processing of information and the formation of attitudes at point of purchase. The paper explores the impact of presenting small domestic appliances in the context of related fast moving consumer goods on information processing and attitudes. Creative, but unconventional, methods were used (protocol analysis and creative expression). Experiment 1, using a quantitative approach, shows that a category-based retail setting a) induces surprise in the perceiver, b) triggers holistic attending instead of comparative attending, and c) the retail environment affects the way small domestic appliances are perceived.Experiment 2, using a qualitative approach, shows the way in which consumers deal with the situation depends upon personality traits. Results are discussed with respect to both the impact of retail environment upon information processing, and the methods used.

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