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How does the object reputation influence the consumer perception

I just read about an amazing study carried out by a French scientist (Claudia Fritz, University of Paris VI) on one of the most mythic and mysterious object of all times, Stradivarius violins.

The secret of Stradivarius has long been sought after. All possible kinds of analysis were done, for instance on the materials used, the veneer, the shape of the different parts, the wood origin, you name it.

Most violinists believe that instruments by Stradivari and Guarneri “del Gesu” are tonally superior to other violins—and to new violins in particular. Many mechanical and acoustical factors have been proposed to account for this superiority; however, the fundamental premise of tonal superiority has not yet been properly investigated.
Player’s judgments about a Stradivari’s soundmay be biased by the violin’s extraordinary monetary value and historical importance, but no studies designed to preclude such biasing factors have yet been published.

For the first time a researcher had the idea to study the consumer part (i.e. the musician playing the violin) and not the object itself.

On the occasion of an international music contest in Indianapolis in September 2010, she run an experiment with musicians and asked them to play and rate 6 violins (3 Stradivarius and 3 modern instruments). Musicians had their senses impaired on purpose (they had to wear welding glasses for instance) to avoid their recognizing the violin with any of their senses but their ears.

They were then asked to rate several “performance indicators” and in the end, you had already guessed, the “worst” instrument was a Stradivarius and the best one a modern violin.

My take:

This experiment is a classic one (applied however in a new and innovative way) and reminds us for instance of other studies which were carried out on the brand – price relationship or, most recently in the wine industry, on the link between pleasure (measured by Magnetic Resonance Imagery) and the price of the wine.

As most of you know already, pricing low is not always a good option because it shapes customers expectations and perceptions of quality.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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