Prendergast, Gerard and Marr, Norman E. (1997) Perceptions of generic products: a macro and micro view. Journal of product and brand management, 6 (2). pp. 93-108. ISSN 1061-0421

Branding has traditionally been viewed as an essential tool for marketers to establish an identity for their products. Even products among the commodity range make use of branding to establish a position for themselves in the market. Unbranded or “generic” products, therefore, tend to go against this branding principle. These products, which are usually sold at a price which is lower than their branded equivalents, are most often found in the area of low-involvement grocery items. Previous studies of consumer perceptions of generic products tend to be broad in their scope by looking at generic products as a product category, rather than seeking consumer views on individual generic products. This paper identifies the characteristics of generic purchasers, and their broad perceptions of generic products as a group; and, the research extends previous work in the area by comparing a range of individual generic products to each other in terms of their value, quality and packaging. In addition, the research identifies how much importance consumers attach to value, quality and packaging when buying these individual products - in generic form or otherwise. A mail survey of 1,000 New Zealanders revealed that, in contrast to previous studies, generic consumers tend to be older and on a lower household income. In general, consumers do not believe that generics are substandard products. However, when looking at individual generic products, the less standardized generic products are not performing as well as others when it comes to consumers’ perceptions and demands. Proposes that if generic products are to have a recognizable future, it may be necessary to embark on a program which enhances consumer perception of the quality and value of the less standardized generic products.

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