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Socio-Cognitive Dynamics in a Product Market

Authors/Editors: Rosa, J.A.
Porac, J.F.
Spanjol, J.
Saxon, M.
Published: 1999
Type: Articles in Refereed Journals (International)
ISBN/ISSN: 0022-2429
Published by: Journal of Marketing, 63 (Special Issue), 64-77


In this article, the authors explore the origins and evolution of product markets from a sociocognitive perspective. Product markets are defined as socially constructed knowledge structures (i. e., product conceptual systems) that are shared among producers and consumers-sharing that enables consumers and producers to interact in the market. The fundamental thesis is that product markets are neither imposed nor orchestrated by producers or consumers but evolve from producer-consumer interaction feedback effects. Starting as unstable, incomplete, and disjointed conceptual systems held by market actors-which is revealed by the cacophony of uses, claims, and product standards that characterize emerging product markets-product markets become coherent as a result of consumers and producers making sense of each other's behaviors. The authors further argue that the sensemaking process is revealed in the stories that consumers and producers tell each other in published media, such as industry newspapers and consumer magazines, which the authors use as data sources. Specific hypotheses pertaining to the use of product category labels in published sources and the acceptability of different product category members throughout the development process are tested for the minivan market between 1982 and 1988. The findings suggest that category stabilization causes significant differences between consumers and producers in how they use product category labels for emerging and preexisting categories. The findings also show that, as stabilization occurs around a category prototype, the acceptability of particular models changes without any physical changes to the models.

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