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Consumer choice: between explicit and implicit reference points

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The purpose of this study is to review the literature relating to explicit and implicit reference points in consumer choice, and to bring together, in a constructive way, the main findings that have been advanced. A theoretical approach is followed in order to examine what different authors have to say about reference points. The main findings suggest that consumers simultaneously use both explicit and implicit reference points (Dholakia and Simonson 2005). The former arise mainly in terms of the perspective of the seller (e.g., rewards, product attributes, assortments, framing effects and reference prices) and become explicit in advertisements and promotional material. The latter arise mainly from the perspective of the consumer (e.g., goals, time or point of purchase, distinct preferences, reference groups and culture). This study is significant because of its unique focus on the use of reference points, drawing from the findings of the existing literature. The main limitation of this approach is that it looks at the effects of reference points in general, without drawing any conclusions about reference points in specific product categories.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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