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Embodied Location Effects: Affecting Consumer Product Attributions Through Location-concept Associations

A large number of marketing decisions (e.g., where to place products on a shelf; where to place information on product packages or within advertisements; how to organize product listings on online shopping sites) involve choices related to location. However, because particular locations can convey symbolic and conceptual meanings (e.g., “up” implies power), in order to choose the best location, marketers must understand what meaning is being communicated through a placement. Drawing on embodied cognition theory, which suggests that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are shaped through our interactions with the surrounding world and grounded in sensorimotor systems, this dissertation explores conceptual associations with various locations, identifying a new location-concept association (up and chronological newness) and providing insight into how marketers can utilize location effects to better promote product attributes and improve consumer well-being. Specifically, Essay 1 explores how marketers can use location-number associations to most effectively communicate nutrition information on food packages. Drawing on the number-location association literature (i.e., small numbers-left, large numbers-right), three experimental studies show that consumers estimate a higher nutrient content when nutrition claims are placed on the right (vs. left) side of the package, which has a subsequent impact on perceived healthfulness of the product. Also, Essay 1 examined the moderating role of product-nutrient associations and nutrient type (negative vs. positive). Essay 2 examines how marketers can use shelf location combined with a conceptual metaphor between verticality and power to increase consumers’ beliefs about green products’ effectiveness and consequent purchase. Findings from three experimental studies show that placing green products on a higher (vs. lower) shelf can improve perceived product effectiveness, which in turn increases purchase intention of the target product. Essay 2 also discusses the role of choice criteria (choosing strong and powerful products vs. mild and gentle products) as a moderator. Finally, Essay 3 identifies a hitherto unexplored conceptual association between up and chronological newness and demonstrates how marketers can utilize this association to better market products. Six studies find support for this association that consumers conceptually associate the chronological newness construct with up and that consumers use this association to infer newness-related information such as product novelty, newspaper credibility, and food freshness. Together, this dissertation contributes theoretically to the understanding of embodied cognition, particularly location-concept associations, in the marketing domain. Additionally, this dissertation provides managerial and public policy implications.
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