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Methods for measuring the objective factors that are associated with the existence of markets have improved over the years. This is because of the multiplication of studies of the population distribution, incomes, trading areas and retail outlets. New methods are being applied and there is more access to information that would otherwise not be available as easily. Knowledge of the subjective factors that profoundly influence the marketability of products has failed to show comparable progress.
Very little is known of the mental process of the people who buy goods. Isolated studies on the attitudes, wants needs, prejudices and interests of consumers have been made, but the general information on these points remains inadequate mainly because the observations are not very well interpreted. They do not draw inferences to their motives.
Using the approach of indi- 13 14 THE JOURNAL OF MARKETING rect, a new form of questioner is used in order to determine the attitudes of consumers towards well-known brands and publications. This technique involves presentation of word pictures of two individuals of different classes. One of high esteemed and superior position and one of low esteemed and despised class.
The correspondents are required to report which publications and brands are more likely to be used by the hypothetical subjects. The correspondents did not however answer the questions as asked since the focus was more on the personality or class of the subjects. Their response was corresponding to THE JOURNAL OF MARKETING 15 which regarded it as an interesting and novel exercise in judgment and had a little thought in personal application.
A second table of results,showing frequency with which subjects judged that the same brand would appeal to both the gangster and the business man is shown. While the standing of the various brands cannot be regarded as established by this small sample of public opinion, the degree of agreement from group to group is such as to suggest that considerable reliance may be placed upon the rankings. It seems probable, for example, that the very definite tendency to judge Chesterfield cigarettes to be appropriate for the business man, but not for the gangster, is not peculiar to this group of judges but would be found to be widespread. This brand seems to be surrounded by a halo of respectability. Apparently this is recognized, even by those who do not prefer this brand. Logically, there ought to be some relationship between the attitude thus revealed, and the tendency to buy or not to buy the product
Responses of correspondents comparing their judgment of references of inferior and superior individuals show that, percentages based upon small number of cases are meaningless or of little significance. Products the converse may be true. Monthby- month studies of the trend of these attitudes toward products as compared with their waxing or waning popularity should give much needed information as to the influences at work in determining what people will or will not accept.
Per unit of those who prefer brand who think business man would prefer it. TABLE V.—showing degree of association between preference for product and belief that inferior and superior will prefer it. The journal of marketing 19,of certain products because they themselves prefer them.Specifically, does the man who prefers Chesterfield cigarettes think that they appeal to superior people because he smokes them, or does he smoke them because (among other reasons) he feels that they are for the time being the preferred smoke of superior individuals, whose prestige he desires to emulate? The present data do not give a satisfactory answer to this question but they do afford a point of departure in seeking an answer. Over a period of several years it should be possible to compare the trend of attitudes toward various products with the trend of sales for those products, and to derive from such studies a general notion of the extent to which attitudes influence buying.