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Sweet lemons: illusory quality, self-deceivers, advertising and price

Author: Parker, Philip M. INSEAD Area: MarketingIn: Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 32, no. 3, August 1995 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 291-307.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: This study suggests that competition can lead to low-quality advisers competing against and gaining market shares from lower-priced, high-quality non-advisers. Evidence in support of this market outcome comes from a service which has experienced advertising deregulation over the past two decades: optometry. Various explanations of this outcome are discussed including the possibility that self-deceiving consumers relying on "illusory qualities" believe they can judge product quality as measured by the firm, but cannot, and end up being satisfied with low-quality products at high prices - "sweet lemons"
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This study suggests that competition can lead to low-quality advisers competing against and gaining market shares from lower-priced, high-quality non-advisers. Evidence in support of this market outcome comes from a service which has experienced advertising deregulation over the past two decades: optometry. Various explanations of this outcome are discussed including the possibility that self-deceiving consumers relying on "illusory qualities" believe they can judge product quality as measured by the firm, but cannot, and end up being satisfied with low-quality products at high prices - "sweet lemons"

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