Effects of product categorisation in marketing
The more innovative a product is, the larger the risk is that consumers will not be able to clearly categorize the product. Previous research demonstrates that consumers’ evaluations of products that cannot be easily categorized can be negatively affected. The main objective of this thesis is to obtain a better understanding of categorization and its effects in cases where consumers or other market actors are undecided about the categorical membership of a product or producer. This thesis focuses on products or producers that cannot be easily categorized because they are new. Insight from studies in organization theory and marketing literature on categorization are structured in thsis thesis through four themes. The first theme involves the consequences of spanning multiple categories. Theme 2 relates to the phenomenon that different types of market actors might disagree on the categorical membership of the same product or producer.
Theme 3 deals with the fact that categories are dynamic and evolve over time. The fourth theme relates to communicating categorical membership by providing – or not providing – visual and textual category cues. These four themes are addressed in four different studies. The findings of these studies provide interesting theoretical and practical implications that will help producers to manage categorization issues, during the development and marketing phase of new products.