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Keywords:

Evaluative
criteria,
information
cues, attributes,
expertise,
familiarity,
brand
consciousness,
jewellery
Dr A. Jamal
Lecturer in
Marketing,
Cardiff Business
School, Abercon-
way Building,
Column Drive,
Cardiff CF10 3EU,
UK
Tel: 029
20407837
e-mail: jamala@
cardiff.ac.uk
Webpage: http://
www.cardiff.
ac.uk/carbs/mark/
jamal.html
Consumers' product evaluation:
A study of the primary evaluative
criteria in the precious jewellery
market in the UK
Received: 21st June, 2001
Ahmad Jamal
received his PhD in marketing in 1997 from the Management Centre, University of
Bradford and is a lecturer in marketing at the Cardiff Business School, Cardiff, UK. His
research interests include exploration of the interaction among marketing, consumption
and ethnicity, studies of consumers' self-concept, satisfaction and brand evaluation, and
the use of the Internet by consumers. He has published papers in the Journal of Marketing
Management, Advances in Consumer Research, the International Journal of Bank Marketing and
the British Food Journal.
Mark Goode
is a lecturer in quantitative methods and marketing at the Cardiff Business School. His
research interests include the modelling of consumer satisfaction with the use of
techniques such as LISREL, NN and ordered probit models. He has published a number
of articles on consumer satisfaction in the International Journal of Bank Marketing, Journal of
Retailing and Services Marketing, International Journal of Consumer Marketing and
International Journal of Commerce and Management.
Abstract
It is normally argued that consumers make their purchase decisions on the basis of their
evaluation of, and knowledge about, the product attributes. This paper reports ndings from a
research study, which was conducted to determine the nature and type of evaluative criteria
used by an individual while purchasing a piece of precious jewellery. In doing so, the study
looked into the signicance of product category knowledge, brand familiarity and brand
consciousness in product evaluation. A questionnaire was sent to 500 consumers of precious
jewellery in ve major cities of the UK. Results indicate that, in general, subjective attributes
are more important for people buying precious jewellery than the objective attributes. The
signicance of specic attributes during product evaluation could vary according to one's level
of product category knowledge, brand familiarity and brand consciousness. The paper
discusses implications for the marketers.
INTRODUCTION
Decisions about product characteristics
or attributes are important elements of
marketing strategy, since, by changing
the product attributes, marketers can
make their products more attractive to
consumers (Peter and Olson, 1996;
Stephen and Simonson, 1997). In this
context, marketers are often interested
in identifying the product attributes that
are considered as most important by
consumers during their evaluation and
purchase of products. By doing so, they
can identify different target audiences
with different attribute importance
structures (Chao, 1989a). They can then
position their brands on the basis of
attributes that are relevant, meaningful
and valuable to each of the target
audiences. Product attributes are also a
140 Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817
starting point for the `means-end chain'
(see, for example, Gutman, 1982), which
is an important consumer behaviour
construct. The notion of means-end
chain suggests that consumers see most
product attributes as a means to some
end that end could be a consequence
and/or a more abstract value (Claeys
and Swinnen, 1995; Gutman, 1982; Peter
and Olson, 1996).
Consumer researchers have long been
interested in exploring the evaluative
criteria (or product attributes) against
which each choice alternative is
evaluated by a consumer (Bettman,
1970; Fishbein, 1963; Fishbein and
Ajzen, 1975; Rosenberg, 1950). The
evaluative criteria can include objective
attributes such as price, brand name,
country of origin or subjective attributes
such as quality, comfort and design (see,
for example, Grapentine, 1995; Myers
and Shocker, 1981). In particular,
previous research suggests that brand
name is a signicant product attribute
in product evaluations as consumers are
more likely to be familiar with the brand
name than with all other product
attributes (see, for example, Bettman
and Park, 1980; Dodds et al., 1991;
Peterson and Jolibert, 1976). Previous
research also suggests that country of
origin is an important product attribute
during brand evaluation (see, for
example, Ahmed and d'Astous, 1996;
Bilkey and Nes, 1982; Johansson et al.,
1985; Ulgado and Lee, 1993).
Although the signicance of brand
name and country of origin has been
tested across many product categories
(such as shoes, clothing, cars, cameras,
soft drinks, beer, credit cards, and so
on), it has never been tested in the
precious jewellery market, which can be
considered to be a distinctive product
category. For the purpose of this study,
precious jewellery is dened as
jewellery made of precious metals such
as gold, silver or platinum with or
without gemstones. According to Mintel
(1999), branding in the precious
jewellery market largely exists in the
mid to higher end of the market taking
the form of designer names (such as De
Vroomen or Elsa Peretti), fashion
houses (such as Chanel or Gucci) and
well-established jewellery design
retailers (such as Cartier, Tiffany and
Georg Jensen). Also, retailers such as
H. Samuel, Ernest Jones and QVC's
Diamonique use their retail brand
names to differentiate their products on
the basis of their retail and distribution
style. At the same time, precious
jewellery is likely to be considered by
many as a very personal and cherished
belonging with high levels of
satisfaction attached to its possession.
Precious jewellery is also likely to be
considered to be a discretionary and
expensive purchase by most of its
consumers. Consumers are also likely to
use precious jewellery to enhance their
self-images while treating it as a very
special personal belonging. Thus, it
makes sense to explore the impact of
brand name and country of origin on
consumers' evaluation of precious
jewellery.
Some earlier studies have also
suggested that the effect of objective
product attributes in product
evaluations can be moderated by factors
like consumer individual differences
and consumers' familiarity with and
knowledge about the product category
(Bettman and Park, 1980; Oliver, 1980).
To the best of the authors' knowledge,
however, no recent study has
specically looked into the effect of
different levels of expertise, familiarity
and brand consciousness, and the use of
subjective and/or objective attributes
during product evaluations. In this
context, a number of research questions
can be raised. For example, `what is the
effect of a consumer's expertise,
familiarity and brand consciousness on
his or her utilisation of subjective and/
or objective attributes in product
evaluations?' Also, `do individuals with
different levels of expertise, familiarity
and brand consciousness use subjective
and/or objective attributes differently in
Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817 141
Consumers' product evaluation
their product evaluations?' More
specically, `do consumers with higher
levels of expertise, familiarity and brand
consciousness, in comparison with
others, pay more attention to objective
attributes than the subjective attributes?'
This paper is based on a research study,
which was carried out with these
research questions in mind, on the
precious jewellery market in the UK.
Furthermore, one part of the study
looked into the effect of self-image
congruity on brand preference and
satisfaction in the precious jewellery
market in the UK. The material related
to the effect of self-image congruity on
product evaluation has been reported
elsewhere. In this paper, therefore, the
focus is on the material related to the
effects of different levels of expertise,
brand consciousness, familiarity and
consumers' use of subjective and/or
objective attributes in product
evaluations.
The remainder of this paper is
organised into six sections. The second
section discusses the conceptual
background of the study and
development of the hypotheses. This is
followed by a section, which discusses
the methodology adopted for the
current study. Data analysis and
ndings are reported in the fourth
section, which is followed by a
discussion of ndings in the fth
section and a conclusion in the sixth.
CONCEPTUAL BACKGROUND AND
HYPOTHESES DEVELOPMENT
Product Attributes and Cue Utilisation
in Consumer Product Evaluation
A number of theories have been
proposed to explain how and why
consumers choose a particular product
(Bettman, 1970; Fishbein, 1963; Fishbein
and Ajzen, 1975; Mitchell and Olson,
1981; Rosenberg, 1950). Among the
many attempts at formulating these
theories, researchers have studied
extensively how a consumer develops
an attitude towards a product, as
attitudes are believed to be linked to
behaviour and purchase. For instance,
according to Fishbein and Ajzen (1975),
there are two important components
that inuence attitudes towards a
product: belief structure and evaluative
criteria (Lee and Um, 1992). First, a
consumer might believe that a product
possesses certain characteristics, which
in turn could be inuenced by his or her
direct personal experience with the
brand and indirect means such as
interpersonal and mass media sources.
Secondly, the consumer could judge a
product by certain product attributes
that he or she feels are pertinent to the
purchase decision of that product. This
constitutes the primary evaluative
criteria for consumers' attitudes
towards a product. In this context, it is
often argued that consumers make their
choices on the basis of their evaluation
of, and knowledge about, the product
attributes (Geistfeld, et al., 1977; Peter
and Olson, 1996; Wahlers, 1982). In
certain cases, consumers can compare
alternatives across various product
attributes and choose the one they most
prefer. In other situations, consumers
may evaluate each option separately
and then pick the one that suits them
best (Stephen and Simonson, 1997).
The primary evaluative criteria can be
either objective, such as the price of a
product, or subjective, such as the
emotional benets derived from the use
of the product (Lee and Um, 1992). The
primary evaluative criteria, however, is
often also conceptualised as information
cues and can fall into two broad
categories: intrinsic and extrinsic (Lee
and Lou, 1996; Monroe and Dodds,
1988; Peter and Olson, 1996; Rao and
Monroe, 1989; Richardson et al., 1994;
Schellinck, 1983). Intrinsic cues are those
that are specic to a particular product
and include the physical attributes such
as shape, design, style and ingredients
of a product (Lee and Lou, 1996; Ulgado
and Lee, 1993). On the other hand,
extrinsic cues are considered to be not
part of the physical product itself
(although they are product-related).
142 Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817
Ahmad Jamal and Mark Goode
Previous research suggests that
consumers utilise both intrinsic as well
as extrinsic information cues during
product evaluations (Lee and Lou, 1996;
Monroe and Dodds, 1988; Peter and
Olson, 1996; Rao and Monroe, 1989;
Richardson et al., 1994; Schellinck, 1983).
It is often argued that extrinsic cues are
more general in nature and can include
brand name, price, packaging and
country of origin (see, for example, Lee
and Lou, 1996; Richardson et al., 1994).
Previous research suggests that
consumers are more aware of extrinsic
cues and thus rely more heavily on
them while evaluating products,
compared with the intrinsic cues (see,
for example, Bettman and Park, 1980;
Dodds et al., 1991; Han and Terpstra,
1988; Lee and Lou, 1996). Richardson et
al. (1994), for instance, examined the
relative importance of extrinsic versus
intrinsic cues in determining
perceptions of store brand quality for
ve products in the USA (regular potato
chips, french onion chip dip, chocolate
chip cookies, cheese slices and grape
jelly). Their ndings suggested that US
consumers' evaluations of store brand
grocery items were driven mainly by
the extrinsic factors associated with the
products rather than intrinsic
characteristics.
This paper argues that consumers'
preference for utilising extrinsic cues
might be related to the nature of the
product. For instance, products like
regular potato chips, french onion chip
dip, chocolate chip cookies, cheese slices
and grape jelly are frequently purchased
in the USA, and are low-value items.
Consumers are less likely to engage in
extensive information search and
deliberation while purchasing these
items. Rather, consumers are very likely
to use heuristics to make their choices.
Heuristics are quick rules of thumb,
which can involve the use of price,
brand name and country of origin (all of
them are extrinsic factors) to make a
judgment (for further discussion see
Chaiken, 1980; Furse et al., 1984; Sheth
et al., 1999). In the case of less frequently
purchased and high-value items (such
as precious jewellery) however,
consumers are likely to avoid using
heuristics to make their choices. That is,
they may engage in an extensive search
for information and evaluate various
attributes in detail before making a
choice. This leads to the rst hypothesis
of this paper:
H1: For people purchasing jewellery
products, the subjective evaluative
criteria are more important than the
objective evaluative criteria.
The literature suggests that consumers,
while buying precious jewellery items,
pay considerable attention to certain
specic attributes such as the quality of
material and design and appearance,
compared with all other attributes
(Mintel, 1999). This leads to the second
hypothesis of this paper:
H2: For people purchasing jewellery
products, the quality of material,
and the design/appearance of the
product are of paramount
importance as compared with all
other factors in the primary
evaluative criteria.
Consumer Expertise and Consumer
Product Evaluation
Consumers' product evaluation is a
function of a number of factors, which
include consumer expertise (see Sheth
et al., 1999 for a discussion). In a
landmark paper on consumer expertise,
Alba and Hutchinson (1987) identied
two major and distinctive components
of consumer expertise: expertise and
familiarity. They dened expertise as
`the ability to perform product related
tasks successfully' whereas familiarity
was dened as `the number of product
related experiences that have been
accumulated by the consumer' (1987:
411). More specically, expertise or
product class knowledge represents `the
understanding of the attributes in a
product or service class, and knowledge
Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817 143
Consumers' product evaluation
about how various alternatives stack up
on these alternatives' (Sheth et al., 1999:
533).
Previous research suggests that expert
customers are likely to have a superior
knowledge of existing alternatives; they
are also likely to have a superior ability
to encode new information and to
discriminate between relevant and
irrelevant information (Alba and
Hutchinson, 1987; Johnson and Russo,
1984). Furthermore, consumers'
knowledge about the product category
is likely to inuence the use of extrinsic
factors in product evaluations (Bettman
and Park, 1980; Lee and Lou, 1996;
Oliver, 1980). For instance, Bettman and
Park (1980) reported that consumers
with more knowledge of a product (in
this case, microwave ovens) tended to
rely more on brand name in their
product evaluation as compared with
those with less knowledge. Previous
research also indicates that consumers
with higher levels of product
knowledge, as compared with those
with less knowledge, tend to rely more
heavily on other extrinsic factors such as
price (Rao and Monroe, 1989) and
country of origin (Chao, 1989a, 1989b;
Han, 1988). This leads to the following
research hypotheses of the paper:
H3a: For people displaying higher
levels of product category
knowledge, brand name will be of
more importance than to people
displaying lower levels of product
category knowledge.
H3b: For people displaying higher
levels of product category
knowledge, country of origin will
be of more importance than to
people displaying lower levels of
product category knowledge.
On the other hand, familiarity `refers to
the history of purchase and
consumption and information obtained
with respect to that product or service'
(Sheth et al., 1999: 533). This reects
one's level of direct and indirect
experiences with a brand or product
(Alba and Hutchinson, 1987). In other
words, familiarity is based on prior use
of the brand and/or the extent to which
the consumer has heard about a
particular brand or has received
relevant information. Thus familiarity is
not the same as expertise, as expertise
requires familiarity, but familiarity does
not guarantee expertise (Alba and
Hutchinson, 1987; Perkins and Reyna,
1990). Research indicates that increased
brand familiarity results in different
effects in brand evaluation and in
information processing (Alba and
Hutchinson, 1987; Johnson and Russo,
1984; Ratneshwar et al., 1987). In the
case of familiar brands, consumers are
likely to rely on brand name during the
evaluation as brand-related experiences
and associations are extensive (Bettman
and Sujan, 1987). This leads to the
following research hypotheses of this
paper:
H4a: For people displaying higher
levels of brand familiarity, brand
name will be of more importance
than to people displaying lower
levels of product category
knowledge.
H4b: For people displaying higher
levels of brand familiarity,
country of origin will be of more
importance than to people
displaying lower levels of product
category knowledge.
Brand Consciousness and Consumers'
Product Evaluation
In this study, the authors propose that a
consumer's brand consciousness is also
likely to have inuence on his or her
product evaluation. Brand
consciousness is a shopping orientation
which is characterised by the degree to
which a consumer is oriented towards
buying well-known branded products
(see, for example, Shim and Gehrt, 1996;
Sproles and Kendall, 1986). A shopping
orientation is a general predisposition
towards the act of shopping by an
individual and characterises his or her
144 Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817
Ahmad Jamal and Mark Goode
mental/cognitive approach to making
choices in the marketplace (Shim and
Gehrt, 1996). A brand-conscious
consumer is likely to perceive well-
known brands as symbols of status and
as reectors of his/her own personality.
This is backed up by a great deal of
literature in consumer research, which
suggests that consumers often perceive
purchase and consumption of products
to be good vehicles for self-expression
(see, for example, Belk, 1988; Ericksen,
1996; Graeff, 1996; Onkvisit and Shaw,
1987; Sirgy et al., 1997). A brand-
conscious consumer is very likely to
place different importance on attributes
like brand name and country of origin
than one who is not very keen on
buying well-known branded products.
It is important to note here that brand
consciousness, although related to
brand familiarity, is a different concept.
This is because brand consciousness is
based on a person's personality trait
whereas brand familiarity relates to
one's prior experiences with a brand.
Hence, the paper proposes the following
research hypotheses:
H5a: For people displaying higher
levels of brand consciousness,
brand name will be of more
importance than for people
displaying lower levels of brand
consciousness.
H5b: For people displaying higher
levels of brand consciousness,
country of origin of design will be
of more importance than for
people displaying lower levels of
brand consciousness.
METHOD
Questionnaire and Measure
Development
Several stages were involved in the
process of questionnaire formulation.
First, an extensive review of the
literature in the areas of attribute
evaluation, cue utilisation, brand
familiarity, consumer expertise,
shopping orientation, and general
consumer behaviour was carried out. A
questionnaire was then developed,
which included measures for a number
of variables that were investigated.
Measures for expertise or product class
expertise were adopted from Mishra et
al. (1993). Measures for brand
familiarity were adopted from previous
brand familiarity literature (Alba and
Hutchinson, 1987; Bettman and Sujan,
1987; Bettman and Park, 1980; Huffman,
1997; Johnson and Russo, 1984).
Measures for brand consciousness were
adopted from previous research dealing
with shopping orientations (Shim and
Gehrt, 1996; Sproles and Kendall, 1986).
The research instrument included a list
of 17 items representing the subjective
as well as objective evaluative criteria.
The subjective attributes were quality,
design, workmanship, durability and
comfort. The objective attributes
included items like price, variety,
information provided, brand name,
antique value and country of origin.
Respondents in the study were asked to
indicate the importance of each of the
attributes in the evaluative criteria in
making their choices while buying a
piece of precious jewellery. Measures
for other constructs such as self-image
congruity, brand preference and
consumer satisfaction, which are not the
focus of this paper, were included
(Naser et al., 1999; Sirgy et al., 1997).
Measures were also included to capture
the demographic prole of the
respondents. Two academic researchers
in the eld of consumer behaviour as
well as market research were then
employed as expert judges to assess the
face validity of the items selected.
Subsequently, the questionnaire was
pre-tested with ten consumers of
precious jewellery and rened to
achieve content validity.
Data Collection
A stratied random sampling method
was used for collecting the primary data
for the study. This involved a number of
stages. First, the population was divided
Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817 145
Consumers' product evaluation
into non-overlapping groups of
consumers from ve different cities
(stratas) in the UK. The choice of these
cities was based on existing literature,
which showed that these cities
comprised customers who generally
had a high-income level with more
preference towards precious jewellery
as a product category. Secondly, the
sample frame was selected randomly
from each strata using the customer
proles of three precious jewellery
companies' database mailing lists. In
total, a sample of 500 consumers was
randomly selected from the many
thousands of consumers of these three
rms and, in the summer of 1999, the
questionnaire was mailed out. The three
companies in this study were chosen for
their length of experience and extensive
knowledge in the jewellery industry.
However, for condentiality reasons,
the names of these companies have been
withheld. The questionnaire was then
mailed to 500 consumers of precious
jewellery in these cities. To encourage a
higher and quicker response rate, the
respondents were offered an
opportunity to enter into a prize draw
for a set of precious jewellery priced at
300 by responding by a certain date.
The number of questionnaires returned
was 118 or 23.6 per cent, which is
broadly in line with other postal studies.
Out of the 118 questionnaires only one
was not correctly completed, which left
a sample size of 117. Although the
sample size is not particularly high, it
was felt it was high enough to test the
four hypotheses stated earlier.
ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
According to the data, a large majority
of the respondents (87 per cent) were
female. Apparently, the gender
distribution was quite unevenly
distributed which might result in
sampling errors caused by gender bias
reducing the reliability of the data. The
data is in line with previous research
(see, for example, Mintel, 1999), which
indicates that 95 per cent of the precious
jewellery customers in the UK are
female. Furthermore, understanding the
evaluative criteria of female consumers
is essential for marketers of precious
jewellery. This is due to the fact that,
with the rise in levels of self-purchase, a
female consumer's preferences are
likely to be directly translated into a
purchase, rather than being interpreted
by a male buyer. Most of the
respondents (80 per cent) belonged to
the age group of 2554. Sixty-two per
cent of the respondents were married.
The respondents came from reasonably
diverse occupational backgrounds; a
signicant majority of them were
educated; 50 per cent of them had
university education, while a further 33
per cent had college education. Table 1
reports ndings in relation to the
Table 1 The signicance of subjective and objective attributes while buying a piece of precious jewellery
The importance of the Not
following when buying Very Not important
a piece of precious important Important No view important at all
jewellery n (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) Mean SD
Quality of material 117 67.5 30.8 1.7 0.0 0.0 4.66 0.51
Design 117 64.1 35.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 4.64 0.48
Workmanship 117 55.6 37.6 5.1 0.1 0.1 4.46 0.71
Durability 116 47.9 43.6 7.7 0.0 0.0 4.41 0.63
Warranty 115 50.4 36.8 11.1 0.0 0.0 4.40 0.69
Comfort of wearing 116 51.3 37.6 6.0 3.4 0.9 4.36 0.82
Price 117 57.3 27.4 10.3 2.6 2.6 4.34 0.95
Variety 116 41.0 47.0 11.1 0.0 0.0 4.30 0.66
Information provided 117 21.4 41.0 26.5 8.5 2.6 3.70 0.98
Brand name 116 17.1 37.1 24.8 15.4 4.3 3.48 1.08
Antique value 116 28.2 17.1 34.2 12.8 6.8 3.47 1.23
Country of origin of the 114 17.1 34.2 27.4 15.4 3.5 3.47 1.07
design
146 Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817
Ahmad Jamal and Mark Goode
importance of both subjective and
objective evaluative criteria while
buying a piece of precious jewellery for
the respondents.
It can be seen from Table 1 that, in
general, the subjective criteria items
such as quality and design were rated
much higher in importance by the
respondents than the objective criteria
items such as brand name and country
of origin. In order to test the rst
hypothesis, H1, both subjective and
objective evaluative criteria were
calculated as the sum of items
constituting each of the evaluative
criteria. The rst hypothesis, H1, was
then tested utilising a Student `t' test.
The results from comparing the average
means of subjective and objective
evaluative criteria support the rst
hypothesis, H1, and are signicant
( p , 0:001). Thus, the rst hypothesis,
H1, was accepted. This means that
while purchasing a high-involvement
product such as precious jewellery,
respondents generally considered
subjective attributes to be more
important than objective attributes.
In order to test the second hypothesis,
two new constructs were calculated.
First, the average of the summation of
quality of material and design was
calculated. Secondly, the summation of
all the remaining subjective and
objective evaluative criteria items was
calculated and averaged. The second
hypothesis, H2, was tested utilising a
Student `t' test. The results from
comparing the average means of the
two new constructs support the
hypothesis and are signicant
( p , 0:001). Thus, the second
hypothesis was accepted. This means
that while purchasing precious
jewellery, respondents appeared to
consider quality and design to be the
most important product attributes.
Expertise was measured using one
single scale ranging from one to ve.
This construct had a minimum value of
one and a maximum value of ve. The
construct appeared to be symmetrically
distributed about the middle point of
three as dened by the median. Brand
consciousness and brand familiarity
were measured using multi-item scales
each comprising three single scales
which each ranged from one to ve.
Therefore, each of them had a minimum
value of three and a maximum value of
15. Both brand consciousness and brand
familiarity were tested for reliability
using the Cronbach alpha score; both of
them easily passed the minimum level
recommended by Nunnally (1978) of
0.70. Both of them appeared to be
symmetrically distributed about the
middle point of ten as dened by the
median. It was therefore decided to use
the median point of ten to divide the
distribution for both of them, each in
two equal parts.
In the case of expertise, respondents
displaying a level below three were
categorised as those with lower levels of
product category knowledge, whereas
respondents displaying a level above
three were considered to be those with
higher levels of product category
knowledge. In the case of brand
familiarity, respondents displaying a
level below ten were categorised as
those with lower levels of brand
familiarity, whereas respondents
displaying a level above ten were
considered to be those with higher
levels of brand familiarity. In the case of
brand consciousness, respondents
displaying a level below ten were
categorised as those with lower levels of
brand consciousness, whereas
respondents displaying a level above
ten were considered to be those with
higher levels of brand consciousness.
Using these denitions of high and low
levels of brand consciousness, brand
familiarity and product category
knowledge, Mann-Whitney U tests were
applied to all variables appearing in
Table 1. The results are shown in Table
2. The Mann-Whitney U test is
applicable in situations where the data
is nonparametric in nature, as is the case
with the use of rating scales for this
Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817 147
Consumers' product evaluation
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.
148 Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817
Ahmad Jamal and Mark Goode
research. The Mann-Whitney U test also
makes no assumption of the distribution
of the data as is the case with the
Student `t' test; in this situation the
Mann-Whitney U test is preferred and
will give more robust results.
The results reported in Table 2
provide evidence in support of the
hypotheses H3a, H3b, H4a, H4b, H5a
and H5b. The difference between
respondents displaying higher and
lower levels of product category
knowledge in terms of the importance
of brand name and country of origin
was signicant ( p , 0:05). Similarly, the
difference between the respondents
displaying higher and lower levels of
brand consciousness and brand
familiarity in terms of the importance of
brand name and country of origin was
also signicant ( p , 0:001). Thus, the
hypotheses H3a, H3b, H4a, H4b, H5a
and H5b were accepted. This means that
the respondents with higher levels of
expertise, brand familiarity and brand
consciousness appeared to pay more
importance to brand name and country
of origin compared with those with
lower levels of expertise, brand
familiarity and brand consciousness.
From Table 2, it is also interesting to
note that the respondents with higher
levels of brand familiarity, in
comparison with those with lower
levels, appeared to attach more
importance to the antique value
(signicant at the 1 per cent level) and
information provided (signicant at the
5 per cent level) while making purchase
choices. The respondents with higher
levels of brand consciousness, in
comparison with those with lower
levels, also appeared to attach more
importance to antique value (signicant
at the 10 per cent level). Also, the
respondents with lower levels of brand
familiarity, in comparison with those
with higher levels, appeared to attach
more importance to design and
durability (both signicant at the 5 per
cent level). It is also clear from Table 2
that the respondents with lower levels
of brand consciousness, in comparison
with those with higher levels, appeared
to attach more importance to comfort of
wearing (signicant at the 1 per cent
level), design (signicant at the 5 per
cent level) and durability (signicant at
the 10 per cent level). The respondents
with lower levels of product knowledge,
in comparison with those with higher
levels, also appeared to attach more
importance to comfort of wearing
(signicant at the 10 per cent level).
DISCUSSION
The ndings suggest that, in general,
subjective attributes are more important
for people buying precious jewellery
than objective attributes. Also, the
quality of material and design appeared
to be the most important product
attributes. The ndings also suggest
that, in the case of precious jewellery,
brand name, country of origin (objective
attributes) and antique value (subjective
attributes) can be important purchase
criterion for people with high levels of
brand consciousness (see Table 3). On
the other hand, design, durability and
comfort (all subjective attributes) are
likely to be important purchase criterion
for people with lower levels of brand
consciousness. This is not the case when
a person's brand familiarity and/or his
or her product category knowledge are
considered. For persons with higher
levels of brand familiarity, brand name
and country of origin remain important
purchase criterion. Available
information also emerges as an
important purchase criteria along with
the antique value (both subjective
attributes). At the same time, design and
durability (and not the comfort) remain
important purchase criterion for people
with lower levels of brand familiarity.
From these ndings a clear pattern
emerges. There are two objective
attributes (brand name and country of
origin) and one subjective attribute
(antique value) that are considered to be
important by persons with higher levels
of brand consciousness as well as brand
Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817 149
Consumers' product evaluation
familiarity. There are two subjective
attributes (design and durability) that
are considered to be important by
persons with lower levels of brand
consciousness as well as brand
familiarity. On the basis of this, one
could argue that the constructs of brand
consciousness and brand familiarity
appear to be closely associated. But, in
the case of persons with higher product
category knowledge, there remain only
two objective attributes (brand name
and country of origin) that are
considered to be important purchase
criterion.
CONCLUSION, IMPLICATIONS AND
LIMITATIONS
In general, the results conrm previous
research ndings, which suggested that
consumers do make their choices on the
basis of their evaluation of and
knowledge about the product attributes
(Geistfeld, et al., 1977; Peter and Olson,
1996; Wahlers, 1982). The ndings also
conrm the notion that consumers do
utilise both subjective as well as
objective evaluative criteria while
evaluating products and services (Lee
and Lou, 1996; Monroe and Dodds,
1988; Peter and Olson, 1996; Rao and
Monroe, 1989; Richardson et al., 1994;
Schellinck, 1983). The ndings,
however, do not support the notion that
consumers generally rely more heavily
on the objective evaluative criteria, in
comparison with the subjective
evaluative criteria, during evaluation
and purchase of products (Bettman and
Park, 1980; Dodds et al., 1991; Han and
Terpstra, 1988; Lee and Lou, 1996). The
authors conclude that, within the
precious jewellery market, consumers'
preference for utilising objective
product attributes appears to be related
to the nature of the product. In this
paper it has been shown that, for
consumers purchasing precious
jewellery products, the subjective
attributes are more important than the
objective attributes. A number of
reasons can be identied in this
connection. First, it might be due to the
fact that the importance of specic
subjective and/or objective attributes
during product evaluation varies
according to the nature and type of
product under investigation. This is
partially supported by the ndings in
this paper, which suggest that for
consumers purchasing precious
jewellery products, the quality of
material and the design/appearance are
the most important factors and are more
important than any other subjective or
objective attributes.
This study focused on the evaluative
criteria of precious jewellery, which is
obviously conspicuous in nature, high
in price and represents a relatively high
degree of risk. More research is needed
to study the exact effect of the nature
Table 3 Attribute importance according to knowledge, familiarity and brand conscious levels of the
respondents
High product class knowledge High brand familiarity High brand consciousness
Important attributes: Important attributes: Important attributes:
Brand name Brand name Brand name
Country of origin Country of origin Country of origin
Antique value Antique value
Information provided
Low product class knowledge Low brand familiarity Low brand consciousness
Important attributes: Important attributes: Important attributes:
Comfort Design Design
Durability Durability
Comfort Comfort
150 Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817
Ahmad Jamal and Mark Goode
and type of product on the utilisation of
subjective and/or objective attributes
during product evaluation. Secondly,
the greater importance of subjective
attributes might be due to the nature
and type of method used in this study to
elicit responses. Previous research
suggests that consumers utilise objective
attributes such as brand name and
country of origin in their overall
evaluation when subjective product
attributes are not present. When they
are presented with all attributes, they
tend to assign different importance to
different attributes (Ahmed and
d'Astous, 1996; Ulgado and Lee, 1993).
In order to achieve these effects, the
researchers have resorted to conducting
experiments whereby they can
manipulate the effect of one on the
other. In the case of this study, a
questionnaire was utilised whereby a
list of subjective as well as objective
attributes was clearly presented to the
respondents to elicit a response. The
reality, however, can be different from
the one projected, either through the use
of experiments or a questionnaire. For
instance, in reality, a consumer might
not recall all the attributes of a given
product in a given context due to the
limited cognitive capacity. Furthermore,
different persons are likely to come up
with a different list of attributes each
time a choice task is presented to them.
The research in this paper has also
demonstrated that, in a specic product
category such as precious jewellery, not
everyone is going to attach the same
level of importance to the subjective
and/or objective attributes during
product evaluation. More
knowledgeable, familiar and brand-
conscious consumers are likely to
consider brand name and country of
origin as really important product
attributes during product evaluation.
This conrms the notion that consumers
in certain circumstances utilise brand
name and country of origin as heuristics
to make their choices (Chaiken, 1980).
On the other hand, less brand-conscious
consumers and those with less brand
familiarity are more likely to consider
quality of material and general design/
appearance as their most important
evaluation and purchase criteria.
The ndings reported here have
important implications for marketing
management. For instance, if the brand
managers of precious jewellery are
targeting a wider audience, they need to
make sure that not only the intrinsic
quality of their product is of the highest
standard but also that they make high
investments in developing a strong
brand image. Hence, development of a
strong brand image without delivering
a corresponding high quality may lead
to dissatisfaction with the brand. This is
particularly signicant in the sense that
due to their knowledge and abilities,
expert customers in comparison with
novice customers are very likely to have
high expectations from brands.
Richardson et al., (1994) made a similar
argument by suggesting that `success
depends on not only maintaining a high
level of intrinsic product quality but
also making investments to develop a
strong brand image' (1994: 34). The
brand managers of precious jewellery
can also look at ways of improving the
level of product knowledge, brand
familiarity and brand consciousness
among their target audiences. This can
be achieved using an integrated media
campaign involving the mass media
(such as television and the Internet), as
brands advertised in the national media
tend to be highly familiar (Kent and
Allen, 1993, 1995; Stewart, 1992).
Alternatively, the brand managers of
precious jewellery can follow a
segmentation strategy by promoting
their brands on the basis of the
characteristics that are most highly
salient to specic target audiences. They
can position their brands to different
segments of the market on the basis of
levels of consumers' knowledge,
familiarity and brand consciousness.
This is due to the fact that the study has
demonstrated that several consumer
Journal of Consumer Behaviour Vol. 1, 2, 140155 #Henry Stewart Publications 1472-0817 151
Consumers' product evaluation
individual characteristics give rise to
differences in the utilisation of
evaluative criteria. This is in line with
the conventional marketing wisdom,
which dictates that one can differentiate
new products and improved products
from existing alternatives by targeting
different segments of the market. Lee
and Lou (1996) made a similar
argument by suggesting that brand
managers can segment their markets on
the basis of different consumer
characteristics and manipulate product
attributes differently for different
segments to position their brands.
One should, however, note that the
ndings reported here are limited to the
type of product category that was
investigated; consumers are likely to
attach different importance to different
attributes in different product
categories. One can, however, expect
similar ndings in products like luxury
cars, luxury watches, sunglasses,
designer clothes, branded clothes,
antiques and special collectibles.
Marketers of such products may note
that the success of their products often
depends on maintaining a high level of
intrinsic product quality as well as
building a strong brand image. For
instance, Ulgado and Lee (1993) cite the
example of General Motors (GM), which
emphasises both the brand as well as
vehicle performance in its
advertisements. By doing so, marketers
can expect to please different segments
within their total target audience. One
should also note that the ndings
reported here are limited in the sense
that the study looked into global
evaluations of products before making a
purchase within a particular product
category. The situation is likely to be
different when two or three specic
brands in a product category are
evaluated at a given time. Also, the
study did not look into the emotional
value that a consumer places on a
particular product while buying it.
Information about important attributes
and information cues make a good
starting point, but marketers should not
stop here; consumer products have a
signicance that goes beyond their
utilitarian, functional and commercial
value (Holt, 1995; Levy, 1959;
McCracken, 1986). Consumer products
are thus not only bundles of attributes
that yield particular benets but they
are also capable of having a symbolic
meaning for consumers.
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