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Profit Maximizing Perceptual Positions: An Integrated Theory for the Selection of Product Features and Price

  • John R. Hauser

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  • Patricia Simmie

    (York University)

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    An important component of marketing strategy is to "position" a product in perceptual space. But to realize a perceptual position we must model the link from physical characteristics to perceptual dimensions and we must use this model to maximize profit. This paper integrates psychological theories on how consumers process information with economic models and psychometric measurement, and it develops a theory for selecting physical features and price to achieve a profit maximizing perceptual position. The theory begins with a Lancaster-like transformation from goods space to characteristics space and investigates the implications of a mapping to a third space, perceptual space. We show that all products efficient in perceptual space must be efficient in characteristics space but not conversely. But consumers vary in their preference and the way they perceive products. Thus we introduce distributional components to the theory and derive both geometric and analytic methods to incorporate this consumer heterogeneity. Next, we investigate costs and derive a perceptual expansion path along which a profit maximizing position must exist. Conjoint analysis and quantal choice models provide the measurements to implement the theory. The theory is illustrated with a hypothetical example from the analgesics market and some of the potential psychometric measurements are illustrated with an empirical application in the communications market.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.27.1.33
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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 27 (1981)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 33-56

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:27:y:1981:i:1:p:33-56
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