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EMAC 2023 Annual

Understanding Norms in Subcategory Retrieval Cue Associations

Published: May 24, 2023


Alicia Barker, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute; Steven Dunn, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute; Kirsten Victory, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute; Magda Nenycz-Thiel, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute


Subcategory growth is of increasing interest to companies as a means to grow revenue sales. At present, there is little evidence to explain how subcategories compete in the minds of consumers, but this is important to understand given memory is the first barrier to purchase subcategories face. This study therefore examines the nature of the brand-based marketing theory of Mental Availability in a subcategory context. We do so by benchmarking subcategory retrieval cue associations amongst macro category buyers. Our preliminary findings suggest companies growing subcategories may benefit from strategising to build wider associative networks amongst more buyers. Work is ongoing to understand the generalisability of this outcome across different categories and markets.