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The low stability of brand-attribute associations is partly due to market research methodology


  • Dolnicar, Sara
  • Rossiter, John R.


Using an experiment built into a longitudinal survey, we demonstrate that the low stability of consumers' brand-attribute associations [see Rungie, C., Laurent, G., Dall'Olmo Riley, F., Morrison, D.G., & Roy, T. (2005). Measuring and modeling the (limited) reliability of free choice attitude questions. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 22(3), 309–318.] can be partly explained by the prevailing methods used in market research, which can often lead consumers to construct temporary associations. To increase the proportion of stable brand-attribute associations, we recommend the following improvements in market research methods: use of a shorter, brand-prompted attribute association task; inclusion of an “don't know this brand” option to isolate ratings of brands unknown to the individual; omission of the standard instruction to guess when uncertain; and, in cross-cultural studies, translation of instructions and attribute descriptions into appropriate first languages. Even with these improvements, however, the maximal stability of associations that brands can achieve is less than 100% after correcting for methodological influences. This imperfect stability may mean that consumers learn brand-specific attribute associations that are temporary but stable enough to lead them to try or re-try the brand, after which consumers replace the specific brand associations with a summary brand attitude.

Suggested Citation

  • Dolnicar, Sara & Rossiter, John R., 2008. "The low stability of brand-attribute associations is partly due to market research methodology," International Journal of Research in Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 104-108.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ijrema:v:25:y:2008:i:2:p:104-108
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijresmar.2007.10.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lynch, John G, Jr & Marmorstein, Howard & Weigold, Michael F, 1988. "Choices from Sets Including Remembered Brands: Use of Recalled Attributes and Prior Overall Evaluations," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 169-184, September.
    2. Zaichkowsky, Judith Lynne, 1985. "Measuring the Involvement Construct," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(3), pages 341-352, December.
    3. Mazursky, David, 1990. "Temporal instability in the salience of behavioral intention predictors," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 383-402, September.
    4. Gilles Laurent & Cam Rungie & Fransesca Dall'Olmo Riley & Donald Morrison & Tirthankar Roy, 2005. "Measuring and modeling the (limited) reliability of free choice attitude questions," Post-Print hal-00818684, HAL.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rossiter, John R., 2010. "Consumer protocol evidence against Ehrenberg’s “stochastic” theory of brand associations," Australasian marketing journal, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 36-40.
    2. John R. Rossiter, 2013. "Scientific progress in measurement theory?," AMS Review, Springer;Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 3(3), pages 171-179, September.
    3. Anja Plumeyer & Pascal Kottemann & Daniel Böger & Reinhold Decker, 2019. "Measuring brand image: a systematic review, practical guidance, and future research directions," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 227-265, April.

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