Putting consumer behaviour under the spotlight

Companies devise brand names in order to persuade consumers to buy their product. Brand names are labels that communicate a product’s attributes or its appeal and the best brands use “goal-based labelling” – a positive image which encapsulates a product’s consumer appeal.

Business practitioners increasingly believe goal-based labelling has the power to drive consumer choice and satisfy “consumption goals”. Nokia, for example, coined the label ‘XpressMusic’, to describe one its new cell-phones, recognizing that listening, downloading and transferring music is a key consumption goal of cell-phone users. Acer introduced ‘TravelMate’ as a goal-based brand label to meet consumer demand for mobile computing. 

Theoretically, a company uses goal-based labelling to drive consumer aspiration and meet consumption goals. Despite this, little research has been conducted on the effect of goal-based labels on consumer satisfaction.

Consumer choice boils down to identifying from an abundance of alternatives the item that is most likely to satisfy a consumption goal. But consumers first have to assess to what extent specific product attributes contribute to their consumption goals.

The Vlerick study looks at the impact of goal-based brand labelling on consumers’ choice and choice satisfaction. The researchers also analyzed how far brand name (goal based labelling) influenced how certain consumers were that they made the right choice given their consumption goal.

The study seeks to tackle questions such as whether consumers are influenced by a positive brand name or did they make their choice based on the product’s performance or their own expertise. It explores the issue of whether competing brands make choosing an item more difficult or uncertain.

Among the findings of the Vlerick study were that the success of goal based brand labelling depends crucially on the level of consumer expertise and familiarity with a type of product. The study found that the more experienced consumers rely less on brand or label and more on their own knowledge. For inexperienced consumers, a goal-based label can signal which specific consumption goal a product serves, just as price often acts as an indicator of quality.

Goal based labels, therefore, were found to be a great help to inexperienced consumers or novices because they guide consumers to those products that best serve their needs, which ultimately increases consumers’ satisfaction. .

Source: "Increasing choice satisfaction through goal-based labelling" by Frank Goedertier (Professor Vlerick Business School) and Kristof Geskens (Researcher Vlerick Business School) together with Maggie Geuens (Professor Ghent University) and Bert Weijters (Professor Ghent University). Journal: ‘Marketing Letters’; 23 (1), 119-136.

Putting consumer behaviour under the spotlight

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