Consumer Evaluations of Competing Brands: Perceptual versus Predictive Validity


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Arch G. Woodside, Department of Marketing, Carroll School of Management, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467 (


This study applies the concepts of consumer predictive and confidence values of information to consumer evaluations of food quality. Examining hypothetical findings from a thought experiment, the study offers advances in cue utilization, predictive validity, and achievement of consumer's perceived quality and actual quality. Separately, metrics for these concepts were applied in a consumer product-quality evaluation study of three brands of peanut butter. Actual quality was operationally defined in terms of Consumers Union ratings of the peanut butter. Using a between-groups, posttest only experimental design, female graduate students (n = 98) tasted and rated one of three peanut butters on the basis of quality and nine product attributes. These informants received no knowledge of brand names or comparative qualities prior to the test. The analysis indicates a nonsignificant correlation between actual quality of the brands and quality as perceived by the informants. The major cues used by informants in making their qualitative judgments (cue utilization) differed from the significant dimensions associated with actual quality (predictive validity). The findings inform the suggestion for consumer training in the process of making accurate quality evaluations.