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Alexander Chernev and Ryan Hamilton

Price image reflects customers’ perception of the overall level of prices at a given retailer. The authors propose a conceptual framework delineating price image antecedents and consequences, and discuss factors that are likely to influence the formation of price image. In doing so, the authors challenge the conventional wisdom that price image is determined solely by the prices of the items carried by a particular retailer and, consequently, that managing (lowering) price image merely involves managing (lowering) this retailer’s prices. Simply lowering prices without managing the other price image drivers might not be sufficient to produce a significant change in a retailer’s price image. To effectively manage price image, retailers must also optimize non-price factors, such as the dispersion of prices across the different offerings carried by the retailer, the rate and magnitude of price changes over time, price-related communications, the physical characteristics of the store, the level of service offered, and the retailer’s policies. In addition, the authors delineate two basic ways in which price image can influence consumers: by influencing consumer beliefs about the competitiveness and fairness of a retailer’s prices and by influencing such consumer behavior as which store to patronize, whether to make a purchase from a given store, and how much to purchase.