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Would you believe it? A detailed investigation of believability in comparative price advertising

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The construct of believability has been shown to be a key variable in consumers' evaluations of comparative price offers. This paper provides a detailed investigation of believability in the context of such offers. In particular, it investigates the impact of the presence of, level of, and type of advertised reference prices (ARPs) on believability across a range of product contexts. An experimental methodology is adopted for the study. Findings show that the presence of an ARP does not enhance believability but that the presence of a time limit does. Believability is also shown to vary inversely with the level of ARP but is not related to semantic cues, such as list prices, contained within the offer. The study provides evidence that the product context of the offer impacts on believability. Two interaction effects are also identified. The paper contributes to the extant literature by providing new insights into how consumers' believability is influenced by how a comparative price offer is presented. Such insights will be of interest to academics interested in pricing, practitioners seeking to ensure that their promotions have maximum impact, and policymakers hoping to ensure that consumers are not misled by dishonest comparative price advertising.

Keywords: advertised reference price; believability; comparative price advertising

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2013

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