Regression analysis is used to explore which of several hierarchy of effects predictors determine the formation of brand versus dealership purchase intentions. A between-subjects design exposed retail consumers to comparative versus noncomparative newspaper advertisements featuring an existing dealership and domestic versus imported luxury sedan brands inventoried by this dealership. Results indicate a separate set of decision variables might become engaged when the sample determines its brand purchase intentions versus dealership purchase intentions. These results are discussed, and additional regression analysis explores the respective roles played in decision formation by (1) consumer involvement with this type of automobile and (2) consumer ethnocentric tendencies.
The Hierarchy of Effects Model, which conceptualizes purchase decisions as the result of cognitive and affective activity, has long been accepted as an appropriate representation of consumer decision making (Lavidg & Steiner, 1961; Ray, 1975). The model has been widely used to measure the effectiveness of various advertising formats, including comparative versus noncomparative (Wilkie & Farris, 1975; Barry, 1993). There have been four competing explanations proposed concerning exactly how the hierarchy of effects operates during consumer decision making (MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986 Homer, 1990) and a multitude of published studies concerning brand selection in this context. However, "research on how store environment cues influence consumers' store [emphasis added] choice decision criteria... is sparse" (Baker, Parasuramon, & Voss, 2002).
Some recent research has established links between a consumer's emotional state and that person's retail store purchase/shopping intentions (Babin & Babin, 2001; Mano, 1999). Sirgy, Grewal, and Mangleburg (2000) present a model entailing interactions between both the consumer's cognitive (i.e., rational) and affective (i.e., emotional) states, environmental attributes at the retail level, and retail store patronage-then suggest a broad research agenda. This analysis explores the impact of two consumer traits product type involvement and ethnocentric tendencies-on brand versus dealership purchase intention formation. Test advertisements describe merchandise value and evoke the domestic versus imported issue as well.
The Role of Product Type Involvement
Consumer involvement is a widely known construct representing the importance of a product or service to a consumer (e.g., one early discussion was provided by Antil, 1984). The impact of involvement on purchase intentions is important to understand for marketers (Stone, 1984), and there is ample evidence that involvement does impact behavior (Belk, 1982; Bunn, 1993). In fact, one "would expect an involvement measure to bear a strong relationship to purchase intent" (Pucely, Mizerski, & Perrewe, 1988, p.41).
Although models for predicting purchase intentions conflict (e.g., Droge, 1989; Homer 1990; MacKenzie et al. 1986, & Miniard, Bhatla, & Rose 1990), central cues related to brand beliefs and attitudes are generally considered to exert the most immediate impact on purchase intentions under high involvement conditions (Petty, Cacioppo, & Schumann, 1983). Further, Laroche and Sadokierski (1994) propose "that intention is related to the attitudes toward all [emphasis added] the brands in the evoked set" (p. 3). Intention to purchase a specific brand has been shown to be more accurate when attitudes toward competing brands are included in the model (Woodside & Clokey, 1974). Since "attitude confidence moderate[s] the attitude-behavior relationship" (Berger & Mitchell, 1989, p. 269), if the confidence consumers place in their attitude toward a specific brand is weak because they have little knowledge about it or competing brands, its impact on purchase intentions might be weak when involvement is low. …