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Consumer Categorization

Part 3. Consumer Behavior

  1. Barbara Loken

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem03021

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Loken, B. 2010. Consumer Categorization. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 3.

Author Information

  1. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Consumer categories include both taxonomic categories (e.g., product and brand categories) and goal-derived categories (e.g., “ways to chat with my friends”). The properties of consumer categories are similar to other types of categories studied in psychology. For example, consumer category members have graded structure; they vary in their prototypicality or how good an example they are of the category. They also exhibit flexibility in membership and representation, and the various consumer characteristics (such as mood, expertise, and culture) and category differences (e.g., broad versus narrow categories) influence flexibility. Consumers also use categories to generate inferences about new category members (e.g., a new brand extension) and revise their beliefs about the category on the basis of information about the new category members. Subtypes or subgroupings of categories are also frequently generated by consumers and sometimes developed by marketers to differentiate product types. Consumer characteristics (e.g., satiety) and marketing characteristics (e.g., assortment and number of category members) influence how consumers develop categories, how much they like category members, and the product choices they make.


  • consumer;
  • categorization;
  • psychology;
  • brand extension;
  • typicality;
  • subbrand