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The paper discusses the problems encountered in developing the definitions and describes the results of an empirical test of the operationalization.
The advertising-as-information perspective has been given the most impetus by the work of Nelson 19, O, and Darby and Karni Central to their work is the concept that goods, or more precisely the attributes of goods, have "search," "experience" or "credence," hereinafter referred to as SEC properties.
These properties describe the point in the purchase process when, if ever, consumers can accurately assess a product's performance. In the years since Nelson and Darby and Karni published their now classic articles, several studies have appeared in the marketing literature that have relied on the SEC framework Bloom and Krips ; Orsini ; Sheffet ; Smith ; Zeithaml et al.
Even more importantly, policy makers at the Federal Trade Commission use concepts drawn from the Nelson and Darby and Karni works as a basis for establishing advertising regulation policy Federal Trade Commission Policy Statement on Deception ; Ford and Calfee Yet, a review of the extant literature reveals that there have been few attempts to rigorously examine the validity of the search, experience credence framework Bond This research represents a start in that effort.
The manuscript is organized as follows. In the next section we provide a summary of important concepts from the advertising-as-information literature, paying particular attention to defining search, experience and credence.
Then, we describe difficulties encountered in our efforts to operationalize the SEC framework. Finally, we present the coding scheme and preliminary results of attempts to categorize product claims using the SEC framework. AN OVERVIEW Nelson and Darby and Karni began with the assumption that consumers are aware that the purpose of advertising is to persuade and consequently, are aware that advertisers have an incentive to Theoretical conceptual framework dissertation, if not mislead consumers, about the characteristics of goods.
Thus, consumers are inherently skeptical of advertising claims and will continually attempt to assess whether advertising is truthful.
Nelson asserts that the amount of information in advertising varies directly with consumers' ability to verify advertising claims at reasonable cost prior to purchase.
If consumers can assess the truth of the claim through prepurchase "search" activities, advertisers' incentive to lie about the characteristics of their goods is reduced considerably. If on the other hand, consumers cannot accurately assess the truthfulness of claims prior to purchase, or perceive that the cost of prepurchase inspection exceeds its expected value, manufacturers have a greater incentive to dissemble and consumers have less reason to believe the advertising.
Nelson coined the term "search qualities" to describe those qualities of a brand that "the consumer can determine by inspection prior to purchase" and "experience qualities" to refer to those that "are not determined prior to purchase.
These qualities were termed "credence". As examples of credence attributes Darby and Karni describe complex automobile repairs or medical services such as gall bladder surgery. In both eases the consumer is unlikely o know with absolute certainty whether the diagnosis was correct and is unlikely to have the technical expertise to assess the quality of the service provided.
As noted in the introduction, little empirical information exists concerning whether consumers perceive advertising and behave in this way.
An analysis of the existing literature reveals that the validity of the SEC framework has not been empirically tested with consumers, nor have the terms "search," "experience" and "credence" qualities been defined precisely. Therefore any attempt to complete research using the SEC attribute framework, must begin by developing operational definitions of search, experience and credence attributes.
This is the topic of the next section. First, in the past, researchers have often referred to "goods" or "attributes" of goods as having either search, experience or credence qualities.
More appropriately, the focus must be on the advertising claim, rather than the attribute of the product.
That is the position taken in this paper.
Second, from our perspective, the keys to having workable definitions for a SEC typology were to adhere to the conceptual definitions provided in the economics of information literature while simultaneously incorporating a "real world" perspective about how advertising claims are made, about levels of consumer expertise, about the extent of information available in the environment and our judgments about how consumers react when faced with certain advertising claims.
We return to these concerns in the discussion section. Search qualities are those that can be verified easily prior to purchase by actual inspection of the good; experience qualities are those that can only be verified after purchase and consumption of the product; and credence qualities are those that cannot be verified even after purchase and consumption.
The SEC framework appears to have a great deal of face validity. Consumers can readily visualize advertising claims that can be determined prior to purchase, such as the price of the product. Likewise, they can identify claims that can only be assessed after purchase, such as whether a restaurant meal offers good value or whether a pair shoes is comfortable.
Furthermore, consumers can also identify claims they have no way of assessing, such as the quality of care provided by a local automobile mechanic.
Despite this face validity, an attempt to actually use these reasonably appearing definitions in empirical research, reveals that their operationalization is much more difficult than appears on the surface. The following paragraphs address the most difficult problems we encountered in two economics of information studies.
To realize these objectives, claims had to be categorized as search, experience or credence. This categorization activity was complicated by three general factors:There is a choice of routes through the qualification. You can start your studies with any of the compulsory modules.
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