research@hec - Issue #15 - (Page II)
Understanding Categorisation as a Guide to Marketing Strategy
Lajos holds a doctorate in management from INSEAD and has been professor of marketing at HEC Paris since 2009. Through his work, which focuses on consumer behaviour, he is particularly interested in how consumers classify these so-called “hybrid” products.
Joseph Lajos and his co-authors are interested in how consumers categorise hybrid products such as smart phones— products that combine such different features that it becomes difficult to define whether they are phones, MP3 players, cameras or PDAs. But why study this process of categorisation? Because it directly affects consumer purchasing behaviour. For example, Joseph Lajos cites the commercial failure of the first personal digital assistant (PDA), Motorola Envoy, in the mid-1990s, which can be attributed in large part to Motorola's inability to understand consumer perception of this hybrid product.
WHY CLASSIFY A PRODUCT? From the early 1990s, it has been recognized that categorisation is a fundamental cognitive phenomenon in the consumption process because it enables consumers to differentiate between products. Joseph Lajos explains that this categorisation consists of “maximising the similarities inside a class while minimising those between classes to enable individuals to store and use better the information encountered in their consumption experience.” And while it is known that consumers tend to create sub-categories when faced with hybrid products (e.g. this is what leads a consumer
Mobile phones for taking pictures and listening to music, touch pads for surfing the Web and watching videos ... for several years, consumers have been bombarded by a range of hybrid products that are difficult to categorise. This is something that of failure when launching this type of product!
businesses need to take into account, says Joseph Lajos, to minimize the likelihood
UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS OF CATEGORIZATION Researchers are therefore trying to understand why, when faced with a product which could belong to several categories, an individual will choose one of them rather than the others. To answer this question, they presented a sample of 96 students at the Eötvös Lörand University in Budapest, and then 371 students at the Sorbonne University in Paris, with a hybrid product called “exercise buddy.” Designed to be used by athletes, it is both a music player and a physical activity monitoring device (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature ). It is a product which thus combines the features of two categories: health and entertainment. The exercise for students is to create a sub-category for the device, and then specify which main category (entertainment or health) it should be assigned to.
to consider a smart phone as a phone or a computer ), few studies have so far helped to explain how these sub-categories are integrated into the main categories. A process that companies should have an interest in understanding, observes Joseph Lajos, because they will need to adapt their distribution, pricing and advertising strategies according to the ways consumers categorise products.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of research@hec - Issue #15
Cover & Contents
- Understanding Categorisation as a Guide toMarketing Strategy
- Small Countries and Risks of Deindustrialization
- Teams: How to Develop Feelings of Safety and Social Ties
- “HEC-Dow Jones Private Equity Fitness Ranking™”
research@hec - Issue #15