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Market Mavens: Model Building for Measuring Consumer Expert Knowledge

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Market Mavens: Model Building for Measuring Consumer Expert Knowledge

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  1. Market Mavens:Model Building for Measuring Consumer Expert Knowledge Wolfgang Grassl, St. Norbert College James E. Harris, St. Norbert College

  2. Why this topic? • importance of conceptual progress in the theory of consumer behavior • empirical studies largely confirmatory • major theoretical innovations date of 1980s or earlier • literature on market mavens relatively new and still surveyable • Feick and Price 1987 • good example for a weakness of the discipline • misplaced empiricism without sufficient conceptual clarity

  3. Approach

  4. Literature 1 • two strands to be merged • literature on expertise (from 1960s) • literature on market mavens (from 1987) • market mavens characterized as consumer experts • different from marketing mavens • largely ignores studies on expertise in other domains • cognitive science on expertise • experts differ from novices by having a highly organized base of knowledge and skills that permits them to process complex information

  5. Literature 2 • extra knowledge, abilities and skills of experts • decision-making styles are different • seven characteristic differences of experts • more specialized  domain-specific • more synthetic vision of their domain (superior information • process information faster than novices • utilize memory more efficiently (< organization) • process information at deeper level • process information more intensively • remember errors and learn from them

  6. Literature 3 • literature treats expertise as a cognitive disposition with behavioral effects • difference from literature on market mavens • market mavens • “individuals who have information about many kinds of products, places to shop, and other facets of markets, and initiate discussions with consumers and respond to requests from consumers for market information” (Feick and Price 1987) 3 2 1

  7. Literature 4 • most studies conducted at the level of product categories • central: knowledge of consumers • two categories: familiarity with products (depends on level of accumulated experience) vs. “true” expertise (depends on ability to accomplish tasks related to products) • motivational and social-psychological conditions • behavioral correlates and market outcomes • information seeking, frequency of purchase, number of referrals, coupon redemption, complaints, etc. • demographic variables are generally not good predictors of “mavenism”

  8. Literature 5 • alternative to demographics: psychographic variables • purchasing involvement, innovativeness, consumer self-confidence, etc. • focus on marketplace behavior to the neglect of psychological constructs

  9. Weaknesses • arbitrary fixation on definitional criteria • (mere) opinion leaders (product-specific or category-specific information) vs. market mavens • true vs. perceived expertise (definition by others or self) • construct of market mavens defined as knowledge but operationalized on behavior • circular reasoning • the existence of market mavens has been asserted but not established, and yet we claim to know the characteristics defining their identity

  10. Circular reasoning

  11. New approach • making consumer knowledge pivotal • cognitive dimension must be measured independently of behavioral correlates • only objective knowledge is relevant • distinction between propositional and reflective knowledge • draws on tradition in epistemology • knowing that vs. knowing why (Russell) • statements about knowing how cannot be reduced to ones about knowing that (Ryle) • propositional knowledge is a relation between a person and a true proposition whereas know-how is an ability

  12. What is consumer knowledge? • epistemology since Plato: “true” knowledge must be distinguished from “mere” belief • classical definition: A knows that p if (i) A believes that p; (ii) p is true; and (iii) A has sufficient evidence for believing that p • (iii) has commonly been understood to entail self-reflexivity: ‘S knows that p’  ‘S knows that he knows that p’ • true knowledge requires that the knower is aware of it • true knowledge in this sense is what in consumer psychology is referenced as objective knowledge

  13. A new model • market experts must have explicit and socially recognized knowledge ( expertise) • not only propositional knowledge (about accidental facts relating to products) • deeper knowledge about how markets work is required • market mavens are consumers who have an enhanced interest in and understanding of market situations, based of which disposition they influence other consumers through the dissemination of information

  14. Variables Indicators Consumer Enthusiasm Frequency of Consultation + Objective Product Knowledge Propositional + Frequency of Recommendations + + Consumer Market Expertise + + Cross-Category Recommendations + Objective Product Knowledge Reflective + + Evocable Market Structure/System Learning style Conceptual model of market mavens

  15. And now? • scale development • literature has developed two scales • development of a more complex scale that emphasizes the cognitive dimension (= “working theory” of marketplace behavior) • validation of scale