Here, attributes are distinguished according to how directly they relate to product performance. Product-related attributes are defined as the ingredients necessary for performing the product function sought by consumers. Hence, they relate to a product’s physical composition or a service’s requirements. Product-related attributes vary by product category. Non-product-related attributes are defined as external aspects of the product that relate to its purchase or consumption.
The four main types of non-product-related attributes are:
(1) price information,
(2) packaging or product appearance information,
(3) user imagery (i.e., what type of person uses the product or service), and
(4) usage imagery (i.e., where and in what types of situations the product is used).
Because product-related attributes are more commonly acknowledged, only non-product-related attributes are elaborated here. The price of the product is considered a non-product-related attribute because it represents a necessary step in the purchase process but typically does not relate directly to the product performance or service function. Price is a particularly important attribute association because consumers often have strong beliefs about the price and value of a brand and may organise their product category knowledge in terms of the price tiers of different brands (Blattberg and Wisniewski 1989). Similarly, packaging is considered part of the purchase and consumption process but, in most cases, does not directly relate to the necessary ingredients for product performance. User and usage imagery attributes can be formed directly from a consumer’s own experiences and contact with brand users or indirectly through the depiction of the target market as communicated in brand advertising or by some other source of information (e.g., word of mouth). Associations of a typical brand user may be based on demographic factors (e.g., sex, age, race, and income), psychographic factors (e.g., according to attitudes toward career, possessions, the environment, or political institutions), and other factors. Associations of a typical usage situation may be based on the time of day, week, or year, the location (inside or outside the home), or the type of activity (formal or informal), among other aspects. User and usage image attributes can also produce brand personality attributes. Plummer (1985) asserts that one component of brand image is the personality or character of the brand itself. He summarises research demonstrating that brands can be characterised by personality descriptors such as “youthful,” “colourful,” and “gentle.” These types of associations seem to arise most often as a result of inferences about the underlying user or usage situation. Brand personality attributes may also reflect emotions or feelings evoked by the brand.
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