INST 352 Lecture 3: INST352 Lecture 3: Buying goods
SchoolUniversity of Maryland
Course CodeINST 352
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INST352 Lecture 3: Buying goods
Research on these questions is accomplished by a variety of scientists working in industry and in
universities; most have training in psychology or business (or both). When their reports are not
proprietary, they may be published in the Journal of Consumer Research , the Journal of Marketing
Research , the Journal of Advertising Research , or in more general publications.
Product makers are not the only ones who do research. There are other organizations that, for both
profit and public service, provide the research and testing that the consumers do not (and indeed
often cannot) do for themselves. In North America, an example is the monthly magazine Consumer
Reports , published by Consumers Union. A nonprofit organization founded in 1936, Consumers
Union reviews goods and services and publishes investigative reports intended to help consumers
make intelligent purchase decisions. Consumers Union reinforces its independence (unlike some
other “consumer guides”) by not accepting advertising and not allowing their published opinions to
be used in advertising. Other publications of this type include Consumer Digest and Consumers’
Research Magazine , neither of which undertake the extensive testing programs of Consumer
Reports . Similar consumer publications and evaluation processes exist in other countries, as well.
The UK’s Which? report was established in 1957, while Australia’s Choice reports have been
published regularly since 1960.
Publications such as Consumer Reports offer a prime example of what the consumer needs to know
to make an informed purchase. The magazines and websites of these organizations present
comparative tests of many brands and styles of a product, presenting the results in simplified tables
with accompanying text.
Whether the cost of the purchase is small (e.g., toothpaste) or large (e.g., a new car), the goal is to
reduce the often massive amount of salient information into a few key factors, which are rated or
described in the simplest way possible.
Let’s consider a hypothetical review of passenger cars (Table 2.1).
Imagine a consumer (we’ll call her Julie) is shopping for a new car. Like many consumers, she
already has some background information regarding cars: their makes, models, styles, cost,
popularity, and perhaps a sense of their mechanical reliability. She has seen the models that interest
her driving about town, and she has shared opinions about them with friends and relatives.
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