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Full Access The impact of imagery-evoking category labels on perceived variety

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The impact of imagery-evoking category labels on perceived variety

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For more content, see Multisensory Research and Spatial Vision.

Does sensory imagery influence consumers’ perception of variety for a set of products? We tested this possibility across two studies in which participants received one of three alternate coffee menus where all the coffees were the same but the category labels were varied on how imagery-evocative they were. The less evocative labels (i) were more generic in nature (e.g., ‘Sweet’ or ‘Category A’), whereas the more evocative ones related either (ii) to the sensory experience of coffee (e.g., ‘Sweet Chocolate Flavor’ or ‘Smokey-Sweet Charred Dark Roast’) or (iii) to imagery related to where the coffee was grown (e.g., ‘Rich Volcanic Soil’ or ‘Dark Rich Volcanic Soil’). The labels relating to where the coffee was grown was included as a second control to show that merely increasing imagery does not increase perceived variety; it is increasing the sensory imagery relating to the items that does so. As expected, only category labels that evoked sensory imagery increased consumers’ perception of variety, whereas imagining where the coffee was grown did not enhance perception of variety. This finding extends recent research that shows that the type of sensory information included in an ad alters the perceptions of a product (Elder and Krishna, 2010) by illustrating that the inclusion of sensory information can also alter the perceived variety of a set of products. Thus, the inclusion of sensory information can be used flexibly to alter perceptions of both a single product and a set of choice alternatives.

Affiliations: 1: University of Michigan, US

Does sensory imagery influence consumers’ perception of variety for a set of products? We tested this possibility across two studies in which participants received one of three alternate coffee menus where all the coffees were the same but the category labels were varied on how imagery-evocative they were. The less evocative labels (i) were more generic in nature (e.g., ‘Sweet’ or ‘Category A’), whereas the more evocative ones related either (ii) to the sensory experience of coffee (e.g., ‘Sweet Chocolate Flavor’ or ‘Smokey-Sweet Charred Dark Roast’) or (iii) to imagery related to where the coffee was grown (e.g., ‘Rich Volcanic Soil’ or ‘Dark Rich Volcanic Soil’). The labels relating to where the coffee was grown was included as a second control to show that merely increasing imagery does not increase perceived variety; it is increasing the sensory imagery relating to the items that does so. As expected, only category labels that evoked sensory imagery increased consumers’ perception of variety, whereas imagining where the coffee was grown did not enhance perception of variety. This finding extends recent research that shows that the type of sensory information included in an ad alters the perceptions of a product (Elder and Krishna, 2010) by illustrating that the inclusion of sensory information can also alter the perceived variety of a set of products. Thus, the inclusion of sensory information can be used flexibly to alter perceptions of both a single product and a set of choice alternatives.

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1. Elder R. S. , Krishna A. ( 2010). "The effects of advertising copy on sensory thoughts and perceived taste", Journal of Consumer Research Vol 36, 748756. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/605327
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/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x648189
2012-01-01
2016-12-05

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