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Abstract

This study compares experienced and inexperienced consumers’ patterns in cue utilisation in product evaluations in the arts market. Borrowing the notion of high- and low-scope cues introduced by the cue-diagnosticity framework, we differentiate between the two most readily discernible extrinsic cues in the fine arts market – an art gallery’s brand reputation (a high-scope cue) and certificates of authenticity (a low-scope cue). These two cues are different in nature; the former is more abstract, intangible, and rich in content, so is more difficult to interpret than the latter. Given the differences in experienced and inexperienced consumers’ information processing styles, we hypothesise that experienced arts consumers form perceived credibility of and purchase intentions towards artworks based on high-scope cues, whereas inexperienced consumers do so based on low-scope cues. To test our hypothesis, we conducted a consumer intercept study at Korea’s two most representative art fairs. The survey participants were categorised into either experienced or inexperienced consumers based on their prior purchase experience, and their responses to a set of attribute combinations about two artworks created by the same artist were collected. The results indicate that experienced participants show higher purchase intentions when an art gallery’s reputation is very high, whereas inexperienced participants show higher purchase intentions when artworks are accompanied by certificates of authenticity. This congruency effect between prior experience and cue type is mediated by the perceived credibility of the artworks. The findings suggest a correspondence between a consumer’s prior experience and the types of extrinsic cues that are important in product evaluations. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first attempt ever to investigate the role of prior experience in determining when to use high- or low-scope cues. It also provides a useful frame of reference to advise marketers on the effective sales approach based on a client’s prior purchase experience.

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