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• Product familiarity is positively related to perceived versatility of use.
• Product familiarity increases perceived appropriateness for most use situations.
• Effects are generalizable across multiple foods and beverage categories.
• Product appropriateness is also contingent on product specific characteristics.
Appropriateness of use evaluations can be used to explore consumers’ associations between products and usage situations. The degree of familiarity consumers have with a certain product has recently been suggested as a mediator of these evaluations, influencing both the number and the type of associations consumers hold with food and beverages. In this work, we extend previous results across multiple product categories, hereby generalizing the findings. Four consumer studies were conducted using fruit names (N = 246), white wine images (N = 112), chocolate bar images (N = 192), and kiwifruit images (N = 302) as test stimuli. In each study, consumers rated their perceived familiarity with each stimulus and evaluated the appropriateness of use in a range of situations relevant to the product category. Familiarity was confirmed as a moderator of appropriateness of use evaluations, and was positively linked to product versatility. Since familiarity is related to an individual’s exposure to a product, this could indicate that consumers use past experience with a product as a heuristic for their appropriateness evaluations. The variance in appropriateness evaluations explained by familiarity alone was, however, limited, and product-context associations were also contingent upon specific product characteristics. Taken together, the four studies reported here confirm that product familiarity is related to usage versatility, and indicate that consumers may find it challenging to envisage how unfamiliar food products can be incorporated into their existing dietary practices.
Journal: Journal of Economic Psychology - Volume 55, August 2016, Pages 120–138