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Focal and contextual components of price history as determinants of expected price

Rajesh Chandrashekaran (Silberman College of Business, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 23 August 2011




This paper aims to investigate how consumers adjust their price expectations for brands in response to previously encountered prices. The effects of two distinct components of price history, focal and contextual, are examined. The focal component represents the role of a brand's own previous price(s) in determining future price expectations. In contrast, the contextual component represents the impact of the prices of previously considered competing brands.


A total of 60 subjects were enrolled to participate in a longitudinal, quantitative, survey‐based study that required them to provide information on brand perceptions, price expectations, brand consideration and choice.


Empirical comparison of several model formulations confirms that both components are crucial in explaining how consumers adjust their price expectations in response to the prices of considered brands. Consistent with a wide body of research, a brand's own previous price exerts the greatest influence on price expectations. However, the extent to which contextual prices are assimilated depends on the composition of consumers' consideration sets. Avenues for future research and implications for brand pricing and positioning are discussed.


The results offer several unique perspectives that stand out from (and build further on) previous research. First, although previous research has examined the effects of competing brands' current prices on brand choices, it has not incorporated the prices of competing brands that may have been observed on previous shopping occasions. Second, measures and assesses the perceived variability within the consumers' consideration sets influences the impact of the contextual component on a brand's current reference price.



Chandrashekaran, R. (2011), "Focal and contextual components of price history as determinants of expected price", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 408-419.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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