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From a commodity to an experience: The moderating role of thematic positioning on congruity-based product judgment

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Abstract

Research in positioning strategy suggests that a product schema, when presented in a moderately incongruent fashion, can evoke a greater degree of positive evaluation than if presented congruently with consumer expectations. This phenomenon has been coined the schema congruity effect. To date, one of the limitations of the phenomenon is that it has been applied almost exclusively to taxonomic stimuli, with little reference to thematic, eventlike stimuli. Two experiments verified that taxonomic and thematic product categories differ with respect to their unique characteristics. Consequently, despite successful replication of the schema congruity effect during taxonomic interpretation, when pushed thematically, the schema congruity effect failed to manifest. Furthermore, both experiments confirmed that, unlike taxonomic product categories that benefit from abstract and moderately incongruent positioning, thematic product categories benefit from concrete and congruent positioning. Implications for understanding the moderating role of thematic positioning on congruity-based product evaluation as well as the differences between taxonomic and thematic stimuli are discussed. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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