The authors empirically explore how consumers update beliefs about a store's overall expensiveness. They estimate a learning model of store price image (SPI) formation with the impact of actual prices linked to category characteristics on a unique data set combining consumers' store visit and purchase information with their price perceptions. The results identify characteristics that drive categories' store price signaling power for different store formats. "Big ticket" categories with a narrow price range strongly shape consumers' store price beliefs, whereas (volatile) prices of frequently or deeply promoted categories are less influential. At traditional supermarkets, consumers anchor and elaborate on prices of storable categories bought in large quantities and for which quality differentiation is high. For hard discounters, however, SPI is mostly shaped by frequently bought categories with narrow assortments. Notably, categories' SPI signaling power is not proportional to their share of wallet at either type of chain. Managers can use these results to identify "Lighthouse" categories that signal low prices, yet make up a small portion of store spending, and in which price cuts do not overly hurt revenue.

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Keywords Bayesian learning, Price perceptions, Product category characteristics, Store price image
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Journal Journal of Marketing Research
da Silva Lourenço, C.J, Gijsbrechts, E, & Paap, R. (2015). The impact of category prices on store price image formation: An empirical analysis. Journal of Marketing Research, 52(2), 200–216. doi:10.1509/jmr.11.0536