a goal based view of product evaluation
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Understanding how consumers evaluate products is of great interest to market researchers. Different approaches focus on how consumers compare, combine or process attributes (Bettman, Luce and Payne 1998, 2008; Chen and Chaiken 1999; Cohen, Fishbein and Ahtola 1972). While attribute evaluation is clearly central to these approaches, what makes particular product attributes influential to consumers’ overall evaluation of the product is not entirely clear. One of the central goals of the current work is to examine why certain product attributes are appealing or unappealing, and to explore the implications of this for product evaluation research, including work on choice and persuasion, and more focused investigations on the role of trivial attributes. I structure this framework around two broad issues: First, I suggest that product evaluation is based on an attribute’s ability to fulfill a particular goal. Furthermore, I examine the specific processes by which activated goals influence the role of product features on the evaluation of the product itself. Specifically, I suggest that goals are more likely to influence the impact of product attributes on product evaluation when goals are activated and perceived to fit with the product. Second, I focus on three product related features within the consumption environment that are likely to activate certain goals, especially extra-consumption goals (i.e. goals that are not directly relevant to the function of the product, but that may nevertheless exert an important influence on product evaluation). Those aspects include the context in which the product is evaluated (e.g. choosing between multiple products versus evaluating an individual product), product category associations (e.g. fair trade and coffee), and even specific features of the product being evaluated (e.g. shampoo with “eco-friendly” ingredients). These aspects can activate goals that influence the role of the product’s specific features on overall evaluation.