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   2011, Vol. 43 Issue (02) : 175-187     DOI:
Impacts of Construal Level on Brand Association and Brand Extension Evaluation
CHAI Jun-Wu;ZHAO Guang-Zhi;HE Wei
(1 School of Economics and Management, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 610054, China)
(2 School of Business, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA)
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Abstract  Construal level theory posits that individuals construct different representations of stimuli in their environments, which vary in terms of the degree of abstraction. Individuals who use more abstract mental models construe stimuli with relatively simple, decontextualized, superordinate, and coherent representations that extract the gist from available information. In contrast, individuals who use concrete mental models construe stimuli with relatively complex, contextualized, subordinate, and incidental representations. Construal levels can be determined by situational or individual factors. Research have shown that psychological distance is a primary determinant of construal level, and construal level can also vary at the individual level with individuals having a chronic tendency toward different levels of construal. Construal levels influence individual’s judgement and decision making by a preference for information, experience, or events that match the individual’s abstract or concrete mindset. Recently, researchers have linked construal levels to important aspects of consumer behaviour, this research adds to this line of inquiry by examining the role of construal level in consumer response to brand association and brand extension evaluation.
Study one examines the differences in consumer brand association (i.e., brand thoughts activated in consumers’ mind in encountering with the brand) as consumers shift their construal levels. The relative number of exemplars and prototypes evident in the free association task is analyzed, and the results show that consumers with high-level construal retrieve more prototypes of a brand than consumers with low-level construal, and consumers with low-level construal retrieve more exemplars of a brand than consumers with high-level construal. Study two examines the differences in consumer extension evaluation as consumers shift their temporal perspectives (near vs. distant future) by conducting a 2 (temporal perspective: near vs. distant future orientation) x 2 (fit type: prototype fit vs. exemplar fit) between subject factorial experiment. Repeated-measures ANCOVA is employed to assess the effects on extension evaluations, with temporal distance as between-subject factor and brand attitude as covariates. The results show that participants assigned to the distant future condition (with an extension launch expected in six months) evaluate a prototype fit extension more favourably than an exemplar fit extension, and the participants assigned to the near future condition (with an extension launch expected in one day) evaluate a exemplar fit extension more favourably than a prototype fit extension.
The findings mean that construal level is an important determinant of brand association and a new moderator of the relationships between different perceived fit and brand extension evaluations. Construal level theory can provide integrated, elegant and simple explanation in consumer brand evaluation and response to branding strategy.
Keywords construal level      temporal perspective      psychological distance      brand association      brand extension     
Corresponding Authors: CHAI Jun-Wu   
Issue Date: 28 February 2011
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ZHAO Guang-Zhi
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CHAI Jun-Wu,ZHAO Guang-Zhi,HE Wei. Impacts of Construal Level on Brand Association and Brand Extension Evaluation[J]. , 2011, 43(02): 175-187.
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