Attribute Upgrading Through Across-Class, Within-Category Comparison Advertising

Stuart Van Auken
California State University, Chico, CA.
Arthur J. Adams
University of Louisville

Product classes such as generic cigarettes, midpriced sporty cars, or department-store toy sections reside within overall product categories (i.e., cigarettes, cars, and toy retailers). These classes are often used as the focal point for market segmentation and strategic market development. One of the more common objectives of this focus is to achieve a competitive advantage over within-class rivals. Thus an attempt is made to achieve distinctiveness on the attributes that define the class. In turn, purchasers are drawn to a class based on attribute tradeoffs. To illustrate, generic cigarette buyers are willing to tradeoff the quality and image of full-priced brands for a lower price. Relative to luxury sporty-car purchasers, mid-price buyers look to tradeoff certain benefits for a better purchase value. In some cases no tradeoffs may be necessary. For instance, a product class such as a large specialty toy store may possess a strong attribute bundle that serves to injure or kill other within-category classes, such as department-store toy sections.