Competition for memory retrieval between private label and national brands
Perceptions of private label brands (PLBs) reside in consumer memory along with national brands (NBs). When a consumer engages in a choice situation, both PLBs and NBs rely on links to retrieval cues in consumer memory to give them a chance of purchase. This study examines the underlying competition between NBs and PLBs across different retrieval cues. The findings show that PLBs link to the same attributes as NBs and so compete with NBs for retrieval. However, while any brand typically competes most with the brands more commonly associated with any specific cue, the study finds evidence of PLB sub-categorization. That is, if a consumer elicits one PLB for a certain cue, he/she has four times the propensity to elicit other PLBs than elicit a NB for that same cue. This heightened propensity suggests that when a consumer learns that one PLB has a particular quality, the consumer generalizes that quality to other PLBs. Therefore, retailers should realize that the image of competitor retailers' PLBs affects the image of their own PLBs.
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